The red, black and green African Liberation Flag was raised during the noon hour in downtown Buffalo, marking the formal opening of Kwanzaa, the seven-day African-American celebration which honors several principles for restoring culture. This year's overall theme is "The Afrikan Man - The Original Man - In Full Effect."
Day one of Kwanzaa is "Umoja," or Unity, the first of the core principles that will be celebrated over the next week. The remaining principles highlighted throughout Kwanzaa are Self-Determination (Kujichagulia), Collective Work and Responsibility (Ujima), Cooperative Economics (Ujamaa), Purpose (Nia), Creativity (Kuumba) and Faith (Imani).
"We believe if we apply each of these principles to our lives, every single day, that will help us to reconstruct our culture," said Centrell Smith, co-chair of Kwanzaa Buffalo.
This year's theme centers around the African man. Elliott explained the importance of reaching out them.
"It is a way to uplift our men, to uplift black men," she said. "If you look at what's going on, you see that our men are dropping like flies. just through issues with gun violence and police brutality. We want our men to know that they are loved, let our men know they are respected, let our men know they are held in high esteem. We call black men the original men because it is out of us that all people have come."
Dr. Maulana Karenga founded Kwanzaa in 1966. He is scheduled to appear in Buffalo and deliver the keynote address at the evening program December 30, Nia day, at East Community School on Northampton Street.
"It's always exciting. He chooses to come to Buffalo every year," said Elliott. "The only time he does not come is if he is sick or if the weather is really bad."
Buffalo mayor Byron Brown was among those present to mark the start of Kwanzaa and raise the flag in Niagara Square.
"Buffalo is one of the cities in the nation that has celebrated Kwanzaa the longest," he said. "Today, we will raise the African Liberation Flag, to begin the seven-day Kwanzaa celebration which runs through January 1."
Organizers say the city has recognized and celebrated Kwanzaa dating back to the early 1970s.
Click here for a link to activities throughout Kwanzaa in Buffalo.