Yesterday, on the second day of the celebration of Kwanzaa, I visited the Beck Cultural Exchange Center. While I was there I witnessed  the ceremony of the candle lighting.  The ceremony was performed by the historic civil rights leader  Avon Rollins.  After the ceremony, he spent time with me explaining the principles of Kwanzaa. I then asked him what Kwanzaa meant to him. He stated it is primarily a celebration of coming together as a unit.  A time of celebration. He then directed me to Dewey Roberts Jr. who had just entered the building.

For Mr. Roberts Jr. this year Kwanzaa has a more significant meaning. Recently the City of Knoxville had passed a resolution renaming a street near the Beck Center in honor of Mr. Roberts Jr.’s late father.  Dewey Roberts Sr. was a civil rights pioneer who fought for equal pay for all people regardless of color. Mr. Roberts Jr. has also been very active in the community. He is a former NAACP Knox Chapter President and is currently a volunteer at the Beck Center.   To him Kwanzaa is also about celebrating.  Mr. Roberts stated, “It is a special time of year when we work on  trying to be more harmonious and have more unity in the community atmosphereIt’s something we can all rally around and move the community ahead.”

While Mr. Roberts Jr. was talking about moving the community ahead, I couldn’t help but notice the activity in the Beck Center reaffirming his words. Sitting at the computers were young children learning and taking advantage of programs recently instituted by local government grants. Programs that will help the children and the community move ahead.

Click for information on the Beck Cultural Exchange Center.

Click for more information on Kwanzaa

Dan Andrews reporting.