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Kwanzaa celebrations continue throughout the week in Buffalo

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

This is Day Four of Kwanzaa, the day of Ujamaa or cooperative economics that looks to build and maintain African-American stores and businesses. During this 50th year of Kwanzaa, Buffalo's local celebration remains among the largest in the country.

That's why Maulana Karenga visits most years. He  started the celebration in the Los Angeles area where he is a college professor at Long Beach State. Karenga believes the celebrations promote important conversations for African-Americans.

"A lot of times when you talk about Blacks as victims it ends up a pathology discussion about Blacks," Karenga said.

"But, we must discuss the pathology of racism, the pathology of capitalism, the pathology of sexism."

This week, the first five days of the celebration of Kwanzaa are being held in Buffalo's Performing Arts School. On  Saturday the sixth-day dinner will take place in the Pratt Willert Community Center,  following Kwanzaa for Kids in the Edward Saunders Community Center on Bailey. The seventh day will feature  a dinner at home celebrating African-American roots and history, after an afternoon event in the Rafi Green Center on Fillmore Avenue.

Karenga reminds those who participate and those who don't that this isn't a religious festival, but a celebration of roots and history.

"African-Americans are constantly struggling and there is not a day we have been in this country that we have not been in struggle. We have developed a culture of struggle," Karenga said.

"We are struggling to expand and ramp up freedom and justice, to bring good into the world, to build the society that is inclusive."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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