ITHACA, N.Y. — The Southside Community Center kicked off a Kwanzaa celebration Wednesday night in Ithaca, treating attendees to drum and singing performances, readings and the traditional lighting of candles on the kinara.

Celebration hostess Nia Nunn said one of the things that makes the celebration important to her, is that — like the Black Lives Matter Movement and Black History Month — it forces people to analyze their relationship with blackness in ways most people don’t day-to-day.

Part of the Kwanzaa celebration is directly related to one’s celebration of racial pride, heritage and unity. Representing some of the values during this time is the lighting of seven candles on the kinara, which represents Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Kuumba (creativity), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Nia (purpose) and Imani (faith).

Phoebe Brown led the candle ceremony on Wednesday night, calling a group children up to help with the lighting.

The ceremony ended with a long and elaborate display of drumming.

Sam Scott, a 14-year-old intern with The Voice, took all photos in the gallery below.  


Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.