The Kwanzaa Expo in Colombia celebrates African American culture | News from Mid-Missouri


COLUMBIA – Columbia Parks and Recreation hosted a Kwanzaa celebration Saturday from 2pm to 5pm at the Armory Sports Center.

The celebrations included a black-run business exhibition, Kunama Mtendaji Entertainment, and a feast.

Kwanzaa is a traditional African American festival of life that begins on December 26th each year and lasts through January 1st. It has been celebrated in the United States since 1966.

Columbia Parks and Rec invited 12 different black-owned companies as well as local artist Kunama Mtendaji to the event.






One of the shop owners tells a customer about his candle shop.



Columbia Parks and Recreation Specialist Jay Bradley said they organized the expo this year in honor of one of Kwanzaa’s seven principles: economic cooperation.

“Parks and Recreation has been hosting the Kwanzaa celebration since the early 1990s,” said Bradley, “but this year we’ve added the Black-owned business expo.”

Many types of businesses attended the event, including candle makers, clinical social workers, and beauticians.

A social worker in attendance said employing colored people was a priority.

“We’re hiring colored clinicians to meet the needs of our Black and Brown community,” said Christine Woods.

Woods said her business, Crowned Counseling, was designed to expand mental health resources and shed light on mental health issues in the black community.

“We know there is an increasing need for black mental health clinicians and an increasing need for therapy, so we are here to meet that need,” she said.

Another business owner, Maronica Kitchen, runs a counseling agency called Ronnie-Beyond, where she offers help with filling out Medicaid information, grocery stamps, employment, and more.

“Sometimes people don’t have the resources they need because they don’t know how to navigate the system and they get frustrated with it,” said Kitchen. “I just tell these people, ‘let’s get together and get what you need,’ and at the same time I teach them to do things for themselves.”

Another business owner, Brittany Hilderbrand, owns Writer’s Block, a small shop that helps people improve their writing and reading skills.

She said she was very grateful to have been invited to the event to promote her work.

“I’m happy to offer typing services to people who need them,” said Hilderbrand. “It’s a very important skill that you need in any job.”

The Kwanzaa celebration ended with a live music performance and a free feast.

Kwanzaa ceremony bags can be purchased for those unable to attend the event. These bags contain the instructions and supplies you will need for your own traditional Kwanzaa celebration. Bags can be purchased from the Armory Sports Center for $ 5 each.


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