On Thursday, December 6 from 8 p.m. to 12pm Black Students United (BSU) hosted LIU Post’s annual Kwanzaa Ball in the Tilles Atrium. The BSU executive board, President Simone Medley, Vice Presidents Akilah Courtney and Jason Reese, Treasurer Brittany Lucas, Secretary Ashley Noble, Public Relations Chair Tynesha Jones and Student Government Association (SGA) representative Maqueba Javois planned an exceptional formal. All proceeds made were shared with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund, an organization focused on Type I diabetes.
The night started off with the vocal styling of Jason Reese singing the Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice & Sing. Following Mr. Reese was the LIU Post praise dancers Passion for Praise, blessing the dance floor with their grace. The band Something Major provided a unique mixture of Jazz and Rhythm and Blues while the dinner was being served buffet style. Immediately after dinner was served the current E-board lit the candles of the Kinara and introduced Bronx native performance poet, author, and teaching artist, Eboni Hogan.
Then there was the party. Students of all races joined together on the dance floor for the remainder of the night. DJ Sparkx provided oldies, throwbacks, new-aged and a mixture of cultures. Everybody in the Atrium got out of their seats; students and staff alike. There was not a dull moment on the floor!
Kwanzaa is a holiday celebrated by African Americans all throughout the world. It lasts from December 26 – January 1. The holiday was created by Dr. Maulana “Ron” Karenga, a professor in Black Studies, in 1966. The name comes from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits of the harvest.” The holiday celebrates actions of coming together as one. There are seven symbols of Kwanzaa, the Kinara, the Mishumaa Saba, the Mkeka (the mat), Mazao (crops), Muhindi (ears of corn), Zawadi (gifts) and Kikombe Cha Umoja (unity cup). The Kinara, or candle holder, holds seven candles, three red, three green, and one black called the Mishumaa Saba (Swahili for the seven candles).
After a session of drumming or reading, on the first night the black candle is lit representing Umoja or unity. Each night the new candle is lit and is followed by the lighting of the previously lit candles to reaffirm the previous lessons. This candle is significant to those who celebrate Kwanzaa in representing that their people come first. The next three nights consist of lighting the red candles (struggle) from left to right: Kujichagulia (self determination) Ujamaa (cooperative economics) and Kuumba (creativity). The following three nights the green candles (hope) are lit from the one closest to the center outward.
The Kwanzaa Ball allowed students who celebrate the holiday to honor their beliefs, while providing a night of dancing and culture for others.