With a brand new year ahead of them, about a dozen people gathered Friday to celebrate the final day of Kwanzaa, a weeklong African-American holiday that offers a chance to learn more about one’s heritage and reconnect with the community.

The Kwanzaa event was organized by the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African-American History Museum and held at New St. Luke Baptist Church.

Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa, which takes place between Christmas and New Year’s Day, has a principle, or theme, said Sadie Roberts-Joseph, curator of the museum. Among them are unity, which is celebrated on the first day, and faith, which is celebrated on the last day.

Kwanzaa, which started in 1966, is important because people in America, including African-Americans, typically do not know much about African history, Roberts-Joseph said.

Another principle highlighted during Kwanzaa is creativity, which attendees of Friday’s program heard about as local artist Eugene “EDA” Wade discussed his work. He showed them a large canvas painting featuring historic figures such as Rosa Parks, Winnie Mandela, Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey.

Wade is also working on a colorful mural on a building in Scotlandville, where he grew up, that showcases African symbols, including a queen and pharaoh.

“It’s not only to beautify, but to bring a message,” he said.

The gathering ended with participants standing and stretching their hands up high while shouting “harambee,” a Swahili word meaning to pull together.

“Let’s pull together and make our community better,” Roberts-Joseph said. “All of us can do something, so let us do what we can and let us make Scotlandville, south Baton Rouge, north Baton Rouge, Eden Park — let’s make our city better.”

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