The Annual Kwanzaa Celebration at The Doug

By Dawn Scotland
The Truth Reporter

The Frederick Douglass Community Association along with Kwanzaa House hosted its annual Kwanzaa celebration from December 26- January 1 at the Frederick Douglass Community Association at 1001 Indiana Ave.  The free weeklong celebration featured activities for adults and as well as for children and included vendors, food, speakers and performances celebrating African American culture and heritage.

“The importance of Kwanzaa is really just everyone coming together as a community and the seven principles,” stated Rodney Gordon, executive co-chair of the Kwanzaa House. “I believe [the principles] are all things that you can use in your everyday life and it will make your life better.”.

Gordon is the grandson of Diane Gordon whose family first started the local Kwanzaa celebrations in Toledo in 1967 in her home. Ms. Gordon now serves as a Kwanzaa elder and has passed the baton to executive co-chairs Rodney Gordon and Rashid Spencer.

Day 1 of the celebration, December 26, kicked-off with the first principle of Kwanzaa: Umoja (unity). “We’re going to talk about how to come together and how to be productive with each other and be on the same page,” remarked Rashid Spencer. ”Really, I would like to keep that year-round  – unity and peace – because that’s something that keeps everybody afloat.”

“It is our duty to fight for our freedom! It is our duty to win! We must love each other and protect each other! We have nothing to lose but our chains!” led Brother Washington Muhammed of Muhammed’s Mosque #91 in a call and response chant. Participants throughout the night sang songs, participated in Kwanzaa traditions and commemorated the past while looking to the future discussing tangible ways to promote the principle of unity within our community.

The program opened with a procession into the auditorium, the acknowledgement of elders, libation ceremony, singing of the Black National Anthem, lighting of the Kinara, and concluded with speakers and the opportunity throughout the night to support black vendors.

The Kwanzaa celebration concluded January 1 with the Karamu, the communal feast at the end of Kwanzaa, providing free food to the community. Each night highlighted a new speaker and elder: Monday December 26, 2023 –  Host AHC School of Excellence Dianne E-Lane; Tuesday December 27, 2023 – Host Toledo Kwanzaa House Committee (2023); Wednesday December 28, 2023 Host ACES Ms. Tracee Ellis; Thursday December 29, 2022  Host Imagine Madison Avenue Art School- Allen Richardson; Friday December 30, 2022 – Host Dianne E-Lane; Saturday December 31, 2023 – Host Toledo Kwanzaa House Committee (2023) and Sunday January 1, 2024 – Host Toledo Kwanzaa House Committee (2024).

Created in 1966 by Maulana Ron Karenga, Kwanzaa is an African American and Pan-African holiday that celebrates history, values, family, community and culture. The ideas and concepts of Kwanzaa are expressed in the Swahili language, one of the most widely spoken languages in Africa. The seven principles which form its core were drawn from communitarian values found throughout the African continent…Kwanzaa gets its name from the Swahili phrase, “matunda ya kwanza” and is rooted in first fruit celebrations which are found in cultures throughout Africa both in ancient and modern times. (

The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa (Ngoza Saba) are :
1. Umoja (unity) 00-MOH -jah: To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation. And race.
2. Kujichangulia (Self-determination) KOO-gee-CHA-goo-LEE-ah: To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves instead of being spoken for by others.
3. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) 00-GEE-mah: To build and maintain our community together to make our sister’s and brother’s problems our problems, and to solve these problems together.
4. Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) 00-jah-MAH: To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses, and to profit from them together.
5. Nia (Purpose) Nee-ah: To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
6. Kuumba (Creativity) KOO-00M-bah: To do always as much as we can, in the way e can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than when we inherited it.
7. Imani (Faith) ee-Mon-EE: To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousnes and victory of our struggle.

To learn more about Kwanzaa visit:

To learn more about the Frederick Douglass Commuitity Association visit: