Kwanzaa start delayed, but stronger than ever

Dec 28, 2020

COVID-19 has made many holiday celebrations different this year, but record snowfall over the weekend complicated things even more for the start of Kwanzaa.

The seven-day celebration of family, community and culture actually started Saturday, but the raising of the Liberation Flag at Buffalo City Hall had to be postponed until Sunday afternoon.

Dewitt Lee of the Canadian Kwanzaa Association joined Sunday's flag-raising ceremony, as Buffalo's celebration goes international this year.
Credit Credit Screenshot from ceremony / Byron Brown / Facebook

Kwanzaa is a time of unity, and also a time to recognize the elders and ancestors in the community.

Mayor Byron Brown used the opportunity to remember former Common Council President George K. Arthur, who died at the age of 87 on Christmas Day. Arthur was a pioneering politician who championed civil rights his entire life.

"We lost one of our elders, former Council President George K. Arthur, and I just want to remember him today, as we raise the flag," Brown said. "His life's work made Buffalo a better place for all people.”

Buffalo Blues Singer Count Rabbit (l) and George Arthur recorded a conversation about how Rabbit got his name for NPR's StoryCorps.

This year marks the 54th annual Kwanzaa celebration in the city, but there will be collaborations with Rochester, Toronto, South Carolina and Jamaica. The theme is “Reframing the Legacy of Mother Afrika” and most events are online because of the pandemic.

"What we're finding is that this region is rich in history that has helped shape the nation and the world, and Buffalo wants to make sure we tell our story and also be in unity with freedom fighters and others seeking justice around the world," said Buffalo Kwanzaa Committee Co-chair Ras Muata. "Buffalo Kwanzaa is making sure that we play our part in making this world better than we found  it."