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Jacksonville Kwanzaa events go mostly virtual in 2020 due to COVID-19

Normally about 500 people would pack the Ritz Theater in Downtown Jacksonville for the first day of Kwanzaa.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Saturday marks the first day of Kwanzaa, but it looks much different this year on the First Coast. 

Normally the Ritz Theater in Downtown Jacksonville would be packed with about 500 people to kick off Kwanzaa, the annual celebration of African American culture. However, this year it's mostly virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“It’s always a message of hope, a message of unity, a message of community," said Ryan Sinclair, President of African Village International. 

That's a message Sinclair says is much needed during these times for Kwanzaa, which started in 1966. 

“During this pandemic, we’ve been forced to kind of do some of those things to be together as families, so I see some type of positivity in this locking down and quarantining kind of setting back from the normal routine," Sinclair said. 

Sinclair says Kwanzaa is traditionally an African American event, but everyone is welcome. Each day represents a different principle, beginning with "unity" on day one. Organizers say the principles apply to people from all walks of life. 

“I’m hoping that in the future this can be combined with in-person and can also be live-streamed or Zoomed across the state, country, around the world," Sinclair said. 

Here's the list of Kwanzaa events African Village International is organizing for Kwanzaa:

  • Day 1 - Dec. 26 Umoja= Unity. 1Bridge Connect. Regency Mall 4- 6 p.m. Zoom celebration with African Village 7 p.m.
  • Day 2 - Dec. 27 Kujichagulia= Self Determination, Teaposh Naturals 1-4 p.m. 8th and Davis.
  • Day 3 - Dec. 28 Ujima= Collective work and responsibility, AlkaVita 1102 Murray Dr. 7-10 p.m.
  • Day 4 - Ujamaa= Cooperative Economics Dec. 29 The Cookbook Restaurant 1827 N. Pearl, 7-9 p.m.
  • Day 5 - Dec. 30 Nia= Purpose Herbun Energy, 121 E. 8th Suite 2, 5-7 p.m.
  • Day 6 - Kuumba= Creativity Dec.31st Palm Tree Spa and Cafe, 1274 State St.W. 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Day 7 - Imani = Faith Jan.1 St. Johns Lutheran Church 1950 Silver. 7-9 p.m.