Since Kwanzaa’s inception in 1966, Philadelphia has been home to some of the most robust Kwanzaa celebrations in the country.
In 2021, that includes the lighting of Boathouse Row with red, green and yellow lights, and special programming at the African American Museum of Philadelphia, Franklin Square, the Free Library of Philadelphia and even Sesame Place.
There are also many quieter family affairs over the course of the seven-day holiday.
Translated as “first fruits of the harvest,” Kwanzaa is an American holiday of African heritage—a celebration of family, community and culture—that Philly has been celebrating for over a half century.
Listen here for the history of Kwanzaa and its food traditions—including a rare interview with Kwanzaa’s founder Dr. Maulana Karenga.
Tonya Hopkins, aka The Food Griot, founded the nonfiction storytelling platform “The Food Griot: Sharing Savory Stories on The Makings of American Cuisine, (Cocktails)…” She has researched and written for several scholarly and consumer publications and appears regularly on radio and television. Her work in culinary history activism aims to help disenfranchised, mostly black and brown food-and-drink industry professionals achieve greater inclusion, equity and wholesome empowerment. Follow @TheFoodGriot on: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and visit her website: thefoodgriot.com.
Photo courtesy J. Fusco / Visit Philadelphia