Suitland Kwanzaa Festival will go virtual Saturday

The weeklong Kwanzaa festival will begin Saturday, and at the Creative Suitland Arts Center in Prince George’s County, Maryland, the celebration will happen online.

The Creative Suitland Arts Center was just a month old in March, when the coronavirus pandemic closed the space and forced programs online. At 5 p.m. Saturday, it will post a two-hour Kwanzaa celebration on YouTube.

“It was either not have this event because of COVID or to shift everything into a virtual program because of COVID,” said Malachi Robinson, the center’s director, who said that the fledgling arts center has found welcoming online audiences for its programs.

“We are a new arts center that opened in February of this year; we are located right across from the Suitland Federal Center, and our goal is to uplift and define the culture of the greater Suitland community and beyond,” said Britt Barbour, program director of Creative Suitland.

The center has joined hands with an Alexandria-based company to present a program of music, storytelling and performing arts.

“It is going to be a multigenerational program that’s catered to families young and old,” said Rachelle Etienne-Robinson, co-CEO of Substantial Art & Music, the producers of the program that’s titled “It’s a Kwanzaa Celebration.”

Rachelle Etienne-Robinson and Stan Robinson and family. (Courtesy the Robinson family)

The production even has a segment on seated yoga.

“It’s a great way to relax and settle yourself, ground yourself during this time, which is very much needed for everyone,” Robinson said.

Kwanzaa is the African American and Pan-African celebration of family, community and culture. It starts Dec. 26 and concludes Jan. 1.

The holiday celebrates community and culture and promotes seven principles, one each day: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

“It’s just about refocusing our energies and really focusing on things that essentially everyone cares about, not just the Black community, everybody cares about what these principles are about. These principles are important to everyone’s lives,” said Stan “Substantial” Robinson, co-host of the Kwanzaa program and co-CEO of Substantial Art & Music.

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