WVON 1690 AM, held its 15th annual pre-Kwanzaa celebration at the South Shore Cultural Center (7059 South Shore Drive) on Dec. 16 and 17. Admission was free and both days the crowds were enormous.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Kwanzaa, and its creator, Dr. Maulana Karenga, delivered the keynote address Dec. 16, outlining the history of Kwanzaa, which is not a holiday celebrated in Africa. Kwanzaa is strictly an African-American holiday, created in 1966 by Dr. Karenga.

The Nguzo Saba (the seven principles) are: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-determination), Ujima (Collective Work & Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith).

This year two Austin-area notables were part of the awards ceremony that honored seven individuals and their organizations for exemplifying the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa. Austin businesswoman Margaret Garner, president/CEO, Broadway Consolidated, and Ald. Emma Mitts, 37th Ward Organization received the Ujima award (Cooperative Economics). Awards also went to; Patrick Woodtor & Africa International House (Umoja/Unity); Roland S. Martin & The Chicago Defender (Kujichagulia/Self-determination); Zerrie Campbell, president of Malcolm X College (Ujima/Collective Work & Responsibility); Sheila Perry & Southwest Women Working Together (Nia/Purpose); the KCR Ensemble (Kuumba/Creativity); and Fr. Michael Pfleger, pastor/St. Sabina Church (Imani/Faith).

Economist and national media guru, Dr. Julianne Malveaux delivered the keynote address Dec. 17 on the economic power of Kwanzaa. Dr. Malveaux’s current book, Unfinished Business, is a collaborative work with conservative author Deborah Perry that addresses the 10 major issues facing women in the USA today. Dr. Malveaux is president and CEO of Last Word Productions, a multimedia production company. A very popular individual, Malveaux has appeared on many television shows such as CNN, BET, PBS, Fox News, C-Span, and MSNBC, and is a much-sought-after lecturer.

Unfinished Business covers topics women are facing today such as Equal Pay, Education, Race, Crime & Violence, Economic Safety Net, Reproductive Rights and the Environment. Although Malveaux and Perry are from opposite sides of the aisle, politically, their views on women’s issues have a lot of common ground.

The afternoon keynote address was by Dr. Michael Fauntroy, assistant professor of Public Policy at George Mason University in Washington, D.C. Fauntroy is a regular media commentator nationally and locally. He is a weekly contributor to the Cliff Kelley Show on WVON AM in Chicago. His second book, Republicans and the Black Vote, examines how the Republican Party has lost African-American support. He discusses how political symbols and policies have turned African Americans away from the party.

Dr. Fauntroy is also the nephew of legendary civil rights leader Rev. Walter Fauntroy, who served in the U.S. Congress for 10 terms and was one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Rev. Fauntroy was a close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and in 1961 was appointed by King to direct the Washington Bureau of SCLC. Rev. Fauntroy helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, 1965 Selma to Montgomery March, and many other historical events.

A few excerpts from Dr. Fauntroy’s address: “Given the increase in immigration, those among us who have poor skill sets have fewer chances for success than at any time since the end of segregation, and the dropout issue has particularly significant longtime implications. Nearly 70 percent of all prisoners in state prisons around the country right now are high school drops. Those who drop out are more likely to be on the outside of the economy, forever unable to make a sufficient living for themselves and their families. And for them the future is more likely to lead to either prison or a life of dependency for which we all pay. And the prison group is a particularly losing proposition because far too often it serves as a “finishing school” for criminality and dysfunction rather then a place where one can be rehabilitated. And by the way, ladies, black women comprise America’s fastest growing inmate population.”

After Dr. Fauntroy’s address, he took questions from the audience and Cliff Kelley moderated. Questions ranged from Colin Powell speaking up, to “Where is Condoleeza Rice?”

Commenting on a question about Powell speaking out at this time, Fauntroy stated, “Powell knows more and could do more damage to the administration than anything that’s already been done, but he has chosen to play the good soldier, and I think his conscience is weighing on him because there are people in Arlington National Cemetery right now who would not be there if the administration had done the right thing. There are hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis in mass graves all over that country because our government didn’t do the right thing. And it must be tough to sleep at night knowing that perhaps you could have done something to stop it and did nothing.”

E-mail Dr. Julianne Malveaux at lastwordprod@aol.com. Dr. Michael Fauntroy’s e-mail is mike.fauntroy@verizon.net.