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New cultural center hosts Kwanzaa celebration

Written by on Sunday, January 7, 2024

The recently opened Leonard Reid House was the place to celebrate Day Seven.

By Arlene Sweeting

Original Air Date: Jan. 5, 2024

Host: To celebrate the seven days of Kwanzaa, the Friends of the Betty Jean Johnson North Sarasota Public Library and the African American Cultural Resource Center held a series of family friendly activities that started on Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2023 and wrapped up with  an event at the Leonard Reid House on Monday, Jan. 1, 2024. Arlene Sweeting was there and filed this report.

Arlene Sweeting: The Friends of the Betty Jean Johnson North Sarasota Public Library wrapped up their celebration of Kwanzaa on Monday with an event at the Leonard Reid House.

The national theme for the 2023 Kwanzaa celebration was “Kwanzaa — Freedom, Justice and Peace, principles and practices for a new world”. The Kwanzaa events provided community members a time to reflect on the seven core principles and practices of Kwanzaa, to share gifts, to celebrate family and community, to reflect on history, and to recommit to the achievement of a better life now and for future generations. Each day of Kwanzaa, the following seven core principles were highlighted. Day One: Umoja, which means unity; Day Two: Kujichagulia, self determination; Day Three: Ujima, collective work and responsibility; Day Four: Ujamaa, cooperative economics; Day Five: Nia, purpose; Day Six: Kuumba, creativity; and finally Day Seven, a celebration of Imani or faith.

It was also a celebration of all that the Sarasota African American cultural coalition has been able to accomplish, with the Leonard Reid House now moved to its new location on Orange and MLK and open for festivities. Medallia Glover, the events coordinator at the cultural center, shared some of the history of Leonard Reid and the excitement that the community feels to finally have a space to celebrate history, arts and culture of the African American community.

Medallia Glover: [inaudible] This home that we’re in right now was built in 1926. It has been changed or altered in a way, but the structure, the roots, and the spirit are intact. [inaudible]

AS: Queen Meccasia Zabriskie, a board member of the Friends of the North Sarasota Public Library, was on hand and shared why this celebration was especially important at this time.

Queen Meccasia Zabriskie: All around the country, there are anti DEI bills happening. I went to a workshop and they said already for this legislative season, they count 530 bills against the right. So we know that we are in a moment in our history, when what’s happening is not acceptable. So this holiday is an affirmation of the rich history, affirming the struggle right now, affirming what we know our ancestors did [inaudible]. Every element of this holiday is intentional.

AS: To learn more about the African American Cultural Resource Center located at the Betty Jean Johnson North Sarasota Library, you can visit BettyJJohnsonFriends.org. For information about the Leonard Reid House, go to thesaacc.com.

This has been Arlene Sweeting, reporting for WSLR News.


WSLR News aims to keep the local community informed with our 1/2 hour local news show, quarterly newspaper and social media feeds. The local news broadcast airs on Wednesdays and Fridays at 6pm.