Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday celebrated from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1. It was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga on Dec. 26, 1966.
On Friday, Dec. 28, the third day of Kwanzaa “Ujima”, or co-operative work and responsibility, the Austin African American Business Networking Association, Inc. hosted its celebration at the all new and beautiful Sankofa Cultural Arts and Business Center, 5820 W. Chicago Ave.
Hosts Malcolm and Stacia Crawford, proprietors of African Accents, located next door to the center, each year celebrate Kwanzaa by acknowledging community leaders, and by providing a venue where friends and family all come together.
This year’s celebration featured Chicagoan and Grammy Award winning gospel artist Darius Brooks. Brooks has also received the Stellar and Dove awards, and his studio, Deb Dash, is located in Forest Park, 7630 W. Madison. Brooks’ label is JMG (Journey Music Group).
Brooks began his career playing, singing and writing with the late Rev. Milton Brunson and the Grammy Award-winning Thompson Community Singers in 1986.
Following Brooks performance, Larry Williams of State Farm Insurance was awarded “Businessman of the Year.”
Prior to his performance, Brooks talked to the audience about growing up on Chicago’s West Side and how important it is that we honor and support our children.
“My mother died at age 51, and I am one of 15 children,” he said on stage.
During a brief interview before performing, Brooks talked about his background.
“I went to Frederick Douglas Middle School. I went to Duke Ellington, and we lived at Lockwood and Washington where my mother was very prominent in this area. This is where I grew up. This is where the Grammy’s came from. I’m really proud of the West Side and would never leave it.
Brooks also offered words of wisdom for children.
“I do a lot of seminars and I tell people, ‘If you think education is expensive you should try ignorance. Life is not about learning yourself; life is about creating yourself. What we have to do at this point is create avenues that we can allow them to grow, nurture and mature, so that their tomorrows can be better than ours.
“We have to create things, we can’t look in the past no more,” Brooks added. “We can’t say what they don’t have. We can’t say what we don’t have – we have to create it… Rev. Jesse Jackson taught me that if we don’t learn how to live with each other, we’re going to parish as fools. And collectively, we really do have a lot of information that we can share if we get together to help plan tomorrow.”