On Tuesday, December 26, Women For Progress of Mississippi presented its 45th Kwanzaa celebration in the Craig Nielsen Auditorium of the Two Mississippi Museums. Presiding over the event were historian and Jackson State University professor, Angela Stewart, and poet, writer, and retired Jackson State University professor, C. Liegh McInnis.
The highlights of the nearly two-hour celebration were the naming of the Woman of the Year and the candle-lighting that honored seven community activists, one for each of the seven principles of Kwanzaa.
• For the principle of Umoja (Unity), Dr. Aisha Nyandorowas the honoree selected. That principle was presented with Dr. Anna Arnold Hedgeman serving as the icon for Unity.
• For the principle of Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Dr. Jasmin Owens Chapman was selected as the honoree. It was presented with Bayard Rustin serving as the icon for Self-Determination.
• For the principle of Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Senator Sollie Norwood was honored. That principle was presented with Dr. T.R.M. Howard serving as the icon for Collective Work and Responsibility.
• For the principle of Ujamaa (Collective Economics), Mauda Monger was selected. That principle was presented with Mrs. Thelma Sanders serving as the icon for Cooperative Economics.
• For the principle of Nia (Purpose), Dr. Ardarian Pierre was selected. Mrs. Gwendolyn Loper served as the icon for Purpose.
• For the principle of Kuumba (Creativity), Dr. Anitra Williams was honored. Mrs. Ella Baker served as the icon for Creativity.
• For the principle of Imani (Faith), Attorney Jennifer Riley Collins was selected as the honoree. Rev. Charles Price Jones served as the icon for Faith.
As each individual came forward, he/she lit one of the seven candles.
After those awards were made, there was a musical interlude. The mother-daughter duo, Joanne Bell and Mya Bell, sang “That’s What Friends are For.” It was one of several excellent musical selections that sprinkled the program.
Following in the footsteps of previous “Women of the Year” – Lynette Suttler, Tonya Ware, Dr. Yolanda McElroy, and Monique Montgomery – Waikinya Clanton was presented as Women for Progress’ “Woman of the Year.”
The presentation was followed by this year’s art contest winners. Women for Progress President, Willie Jones, then issued the annual Call to Action. The program closed with the Libation Ceremony and Harambee Circle. Mayor C. Antar Lumumba was invited to lead that segment of the program. With that, Women for Progress’ Kwanzaa celebration was closed until next year, with attendees being encouraged to attend other such programs across the city for the next six nights.