PALM COAST, Fla. (December 27, 2023) – Offering a warm welcome to all in attendance, the African American Cultural Society, Inc. celebrated the unifying message of Kwanzaa on Wednesday.

Marking the second day of the seven-day celebration, members and guests gathered enjoy fellowship through song, dance, and spoken word during the event, emceed by Donna Gray-Banks.

AACS Cultural Committee Chair Imani Kinshasa floated around the cultural center chatting with members and welcoming guests throughout the event, while working closely with her team to ensure the celebration ran smoothly.

The festive energy in the main hall of the African American Cultural Center was familial as attendees spent time catching up after the holiday and shopping with a more than a dozen Black, locally-owned businesses offering everything from traditional attire, handmade jewelry, accessories, books and memorabilia, to handcrafted greeting cards, calendars, reusable shopping bags and more.

Guests enjoyed catered, homestyle fare by HotSpot Cuisine, featuring Maple Cayanne Ribs, Rice with Beans, homemade macaroni and cheese, and chicken wings with pineapple habanero glaze in between programs including the Mt. Calvary Adult Liturgical Dancers’ performance of ‘Celebration’.

“This is our Kwanzaa celebration and it is already a big event,” said Imani Kinshasa. “The vendors are set up, people are buying, there is food, there’s music. It’s exciting. You walk in and you feel the positive energy.”

Opening the celebration with the invocation, the libation ceremony paid special tribute to loved ones who had passed away that guests wanted to remember, before leading into the lighting of the candles in honor of the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

Beginning with the youngest of speakers, it was a representation of the community, as each speaker provided insight into the principle their candlelight symbolized, starting with Umoja (Unity), followed by Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work & Responsibility), Ujamaa (Co-Operative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). Kwanzaa celebrates one principle per day starting on December 26, each year.

“It’s part of our life. Just Imani alone is the faith that we have in Kwanzaa and our people and our leaders, and hopefully in this world because that’s what is missing is faith. We have to bring it forth,” said Linda Epps, a member of the AACS Cultural Committee.

“I think AACS is doing a great job. We do these programs and everything else during the month, so we’re open and we welcome anybody to come be a part of us because we love everybody,” she said.

African American Cultural Society, Inc. President Joe Jones was pleased with the heartfelt welcome extended by the organization’s members to guests from the community.

“Not only is (Kwanzaa) important to the Flagler County community, it’s important to the United States,” said Jones. “These celebrations are just as important to everyone else as it is to us. If you understand the effect that Black history has on everyone, you’ll understand why it’s important to the Black population but to Americans in general.”

“That is what these kinds of celebrations are really all about. That’s really part of our culture, welcoming people.”