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The YMI Cultural Center, located at 39 South Market Street, will hold its annual Kwanzaa Celebration on Thursday, December 30, from 3-5PM. The celebration will include a presentation on the Kwanzaa principles, the origins of Kwanzaa, and an opportunity to learn about the significance of Kwanzaa to the African-American community.
This year’s featured artist is “The Magic of African Rhythm,” an African-American dance and drum troupe from Raleigh, NC.
A traditional Kwanzaa feast will be provided by The Ritz Family Restaurant, which is located at 42 South Market Street. The “first fruits” menu will include peas and rice, catfish nuggets, chicken drummettes, mixed greens salad, cornbread, and sweet potato pie.
YMI Cultural Center will accept $3 donations per person for the event, which will go to support the YMI’s outreach efforts.
Kwanzaa in an African-American and Pan-African holiday that celebrates family, community, and culture. Celebrated from December 26 through January 1 each year, its origins are in the first harvest celebrations of Africa from which it takes its name. The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. Kwanzaa was created to serve as a regular community celebration to reaffirm and reinforce the bonds between people. It was designed to strengthen community and reaffirm common identity, purpose, and direction as a people and a world community.
The YMI Cultural Center has been a mainstay of Asheville’s African-American community since its construction in 1892. The building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is an 18,000-square-foot, multi-level Tudor structure, and was commissioned by George W. Vanderbilt for the several hundred African-American craftsmen who helped construct his phenomenal Biltmore Estate in the 1890s. The building soon came to house the Young Men’s Institute – the YMI.
Very quickly, the YMI developed into the center of social, cultural, civic, commercial, and religious life for local African-Americans, and it remains the same today as it has over the past many decades. Even in 21st century Asheville, the YMI Cultural Center remains at the nostalgic heart of the African-American culture – much of the energy and focus for the resurgence of “The Block” today can be attributed to the spirit of the YMI.
Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday, not a religious one, so the public is invited to share in the rich heritage and celebration of African and African-American culture.
For more information, please call the YMI Cultural Center at 828-252-4614.
(Logo provided by YMI Cultural Center)