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West Volusia provides many diverse platforms to come together among family and friends.

Although 2019 has come upon us without any hesitation, 2018 will always be remembered for its unity.

On Dec. 29, the African American Museum of the Arts in DeLand offered a Kwanzaa celebration that was quite memorable and informational for those in attendance.

Kwanzaa is celebrated nationwide and beyond, and is observed from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1. It culminates with a feast and gift-giving.

Created by Maulana Karenga and first celebrated 1966-67, Kwanzaa has seven core principles. (The principles are listed above, at right.)

“This presentation made me want to get more involved in the community,” DeLand resident Anthony Williams said.

The program began with an ancestral roll call to the elders in the room.

Iris Scotland, a 90-year-old Deltona resident, was in the audience and answered the call by stepping forward to assist with the lighting of the candles.

Many children were able to assist, as well.

“This is the time for families to get together, talk and enjoy each other. It is a good time to sit back to think about yourself, of where you are going and where you have been,” said Mary Allen, AAMA executive director.

The celebration continued with a presentation by local historian Michael Brown, who shared the many principles and a cultural expression with the audience.

Sean King, West Volusia NAACP vice president, gave an in-depth look at UJAMAA (cooperative economics) by sharing the importance of supporting local businesses to ensure that the dollars earned in the community are used in the community.

He talked about how the minority dollar does not necessarily remain in the minority community, which often takes away from the enhancement of the community.

“The mentality is often ‘I make it, I spend it.’ We must own our businesses and own our homes,” said Felicia Benzo, founder of CATALYST Mentoring Program.

“This presentation was a reminder that we must not only look at the past, but must look at our future,” said attendee Mercedes Gray.

To learn more about the African American Museum of the Arts, visit www.africanmuseumdeland.org.

A new exhibit, “Natural Black: The Nature Quilts of Lauren Austin,” is opening at the museum Jan. 16, with an opening reception 4-6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12.

The museum is at 325 S. Clara Ave. in DeLand. Admission to the opening reception and to the exhibit is free and open to the public.

— Cameron, a longtime educator, lives in Orange City. Send email to cameronchronicleslive@gmail.com.


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