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Long Beach Elementary Teaches Kwanzaa

From Long Beach’s (CA) Press-Telegram:

Diahann “Nzinga” Greenidge’s fourth-grade class puts on a Kwanzaa Celebration for family and faculty at Morrison Elementary in Norwalk on Friday.

Kids celebrate Kwanzaa

Holiday: School lessons culminate in festivities honoring heritage of African-Americans.

By Araceli Esparza, Staff writer

NORWALK – Alasdair Jackson, a fourth-grader at Morrison Elementary School, said he’s gaining valuable lessons about life and mankind.

"I’m learning about other people’s cultures. And the more I learn about other people’s cultures, the more I learn about people," the 9-year-old said.

As a student in Diahann Greenidge’s class, Jackson and his classmates are exploring a new aspect to their traditional holiday season. They’re learning about Kwanzaa, the week-long secular holiday that honors African-American heritage.

Greenidge’s students put their lessons onstage last week, when they performed dances, songs and poetry readings that celebrate African-American contributors to the United States. Friends, family members and school officials filled the Morrison Elementary cafeteria for the special show.

Friday’s performance, which also included a traditional candle-lighting ceremony, was the culmination of months of historical and cultural lessons Greenidge has brought to her students every year since 1999.

"This is just a chance to share another culture that a lot of people aren’t familiar with," said Greenidge, who is of Jamaican descent.

Kwanzaa, created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana

Karenga, is annually celebrated Dec. 26 to New Year’s Day. Each day is dedicated to one of seven principles, including unity, self-determination, responsibility, purpose and faith. Karenga is a professor of Black Studies at Cal State Long Beach.

Greenidge said the holiday brings friends and family together. And in the classroom, it has also empowered her young students.

"Seeing my shy kids, or the really reserved ones, shine on stage has been great," the educator said. "Seeing these kids excel through music and movement, they’re excited to come to school.

"School’s not one-dimensional anymore."

Morrison Elementary Principal Marsha Guerrero said Greenidge has been the catalyst for Kwanzaa celebrations at her school. She coordinates the entire holiday program – making costumes, teaching songs, and developing the choreography mostly on her own.

"We’re doing this to share it with people and tell everyone because maybe they don’t know about it," said 10-year-old Emerson Duckworth.

Greenidge hopes her students will apply their lessons on Kwanzaa to their lessons on life.

"I think they’ll have a sensitivity to a culture that’s not their own – to have a respect for it," she said. "If it does that, then it does a lot."

For the moment let’s leave aside the preposterousness of celebrating a "holiday" made up out of whole cloth by a reprehensibly racist criminal. Can Diahann (sic) explain what is so inclusive of celebrating African roots?

Doesn’t that perforce exclude everyone who isn’t of African descent?

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, December 18th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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