One does not cut off the roots from which one is born. From an arboreal viewpoint, trees cut off from their roots die. Katrina helped expose “forgotten people” of color in this nation. As a people, we have received another “wake-up” call for critical analysis. Among the many lessons to be learned from the devastations, number one should be awareness and preparedness for self-reliance. Therefore, I dedicate this article to Cliff Kelley and John Daye of black-owned radio station WVON, The Honorable Baba Hannibal Afrik, Delores McCain, Malcolm Crawford and others I don’t have space to name. All have the knowledge and understanding of our Afrikan heritage, most take children and people on trips to our Motherland; and also all are pro-black, not anti-white.

In every human social order, there are sacred symbols of deep respect. Traditions establish a foundation for adherence to ancestral rituals, mores and joyful ceremonies. The historical and inspirational moment was the unfurling of the tri-color red, black and green flag of Afrikan pride and redemption before the thousands of people in Madison Square Garden, New York City, on Aug. 12, 1920.

At this opening of the First International Convention, the provisional government, Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), raised the flag, proclaimed the right honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey as the first president general, and gave the ode, “Here’s to this flag of mine.” Veteran Garveyites explained that their flag was resurrected from history since the red, black, and green first flew over the Zengh Empire in northwest Afrika (now known as Mauritania) over 10,000 years ago. It is presumably the oldest flag of a civilized people and has endured through time as a revered symbol of true Afrikan pride and accomplishment.

Even today, those three colors, or a combination, appear in every country’s flag in Afrika and in the flag of those nations established by Afrikan people throughout the Caribbean and other parts of the Diaspora. Interestingly enough, the tri-colors are also engraved on mummy covers by ancient Khamites (Egyptians).

There is a historical importance to symbols, images and icons from our ancient heritage that have become institutionalized by our ancestors. For over 80 years now, the red, black and green tri-colors represented the aspirations of a freedom-loving people based on the right of self-determination and self-reliance through sacrifice and struggle. Truly, we have come this far by the faith of our ancestors and the belief that we will build a new society of harmony, prosperity, power and pride with the foundation of self-governance.

In 1997, The National Leadership Council of Elders (NLCE), a viable consortium of noble, respected men and women across the country, proclaimed that Kujichagulia, (self-determination), the second day of Kwanzaa, on Dec. 27 be red, black and green day, to demonstrate Afrikan self-determination and redemption. The entire community is encouraged to wear, display and illustrate our historic colors through unfurling the flag at every Kwanzaa ceremony.

Here in Chicago, Malcolm X College on the West Side has the longest (seven days) celebration in the city. Kwanzaa is now the only non-heroic, non-religious, Afrikan-American holiday being celebrated in this country during the period Dec. 26 and Jan. 1 each year.

Latinos and Mexicans are not ashamed to display or fly their flags. In fact there is a permanent Latino flag on display near Western Avenue that stretches across Division Street. The Confederate flag is not only flown in most southern states, but is also on display in lounges in Chicago and New York where mostly policemen hang out.

We must remain vigilant to educate and mobilize our youth and community against the vulgar commercialization and economic types of exploitation of the Kwanzaa movement by alien conspirators and their collaborators (not everything black represents us). The National Leadership Council of Elders declared that Kwanzaa is not for sale to the corporate establishment which allows the insidious manipulation of our ancestral symbols and heritage. We must preserve the cultural heritage of the Kwanzaa movement.

We can use the seven principles of Kwanzaa as guidelines to survival in our daily lives.

An excellent example is Ujama (Cooperative Economics), the fourth principle of Kwanzaa. At least once a month purchase products from a black-owned business in your community or from Matah Network (www.matah.com), the only black-owned and operated distribution channel. Happy Kwanzaa. Pamoja Tutashinde (together, we will win).