Crowds turn out for celebration ahead of Kwanzaa

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ROOSEVELT -

Crowds of people turned out at the Roosevelt Public Library auditorium Saturday for a celebration of heritage ahead of Kwanzaa.

The event was hosted by the Long Island Chapter of advocacy group the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.

The celebration of black heritage began in the 1960s. Its name comes from the Swahili word for "first fruits of the harvest," and it's celebrated over seven days. Each night, a candle is lit to represent one of seven principles.

Those who attended Saturday's event participated in a candle-lighting ceremony and reflected on each of the principles, including collective work, responsibility, cooperative economics and creativity. The event also included a libation ceremony, in which alcohol is poured to pay homage to African ancestors.

Barbara McFadden, president of the Long Island chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, says the values of Kwanzaa serve as a reminder in a tense political climate.

"Have faith, have unity, because we will survive," McFadden says. "Those are the things that have helped particularly those of African descent survive until today."

Kwanzaa starts Dec. 26 and is observed through New Years Day.

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