YOUNGSTOWN - As Youngstown native Rose Wilkins filed out of Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday afternoon following the Kwanzaa celebration of Ujamaa, she had very simple advice for community members, young and old alike.
"These are the principles that we live by all throughout the year, not just on the seven days of Kwanzaa," Wilkins said.
Wilkins was among dozens of Mahoning Valley residents in attendance for the service, which included ministerial interpretations of the seven principles of Kwanzaa, music and cultural expression.
Tribune Chronicle photos / Ashley NewmanThe Rev. Lewis Macklin II speaks during a celebration of the fourth day of Kwanzaa on Sunday afternoon at Holy Trinity Baptist Church in Youngstown. The ceremony focused on Ujamaa, which is the Swahili word denoting cooperative economics.
"It's not really a religious celebration," Wilkins, who is a member of Beulah Baptist Church in Youngstown, said. "It's more about these are the principles we want to live by and to keep our community together."
Ujamaa, the fourth principle, is Swahili for ''cooperative economics.''
Speakers during the celebration encouraged attendees to build relationships with local businesses in their community in an effort to build from the inside out.
"There are enough black churches, businesses and organizations in this community to pool our resources together and take care of the people at home," the Rev. Kenneth Simon of New Bethel Baptist Church told the crowd.
The Rev. Lewis Macklin II, pastor of Holy Trinity Church, identified several business leaders on hand at the Ujamaa service.
"You should all share business cards," Macklin said. "It may not even be for you. Maybe it's for somebody else. But keep in the spirit of today's principle."
The seven days are Umoja (unity) which was Thursday, Kujichagulia (self-determination) on Friday, Ujima (collective work and responsibility) on Saturday, Ujamaa (cooperative economics) on Sunday, Nia (purpose) today, Kuumba (creativity) on Tuesday and Imani (Faith) on Wednesday.
"Yesterday was Ujima, which is collective work and responsibility," Wilkins said. "We talked a lot about things like littering, when people just throw stuff on the ground. Even little kids walk around just tossing stuff on the ground. If everyone throws down one little piece of paper, how much trash do you think will be on our streets?"
Wilkins said keeping the community safe and clean all year long is the goal. She said, when she was growing up, there was no real reason for members of the community to fear for their safety.
"I can remember when we didn't even lock our doors," Wilkins said. "You drive around now and see all of these bars on the windows. What happened? That's what I want to know. It's like we went to sleep one night, woke up and it's a different world."
In addition, Carlena Patton, a Youngstown resident and member of Holy Trinity, said she only recently came to know the value of Kwanzaa and how to apply the principles to her life.
"I didn't know too much about Kwanzaa until maybe five years ago," Patton said. "I just started learning about it and I thought the principles were really good. I just love (the community) coming together for a great cause."
The local Kwanzaa celebrations will come to an end at 6 p.m. tonight at Mount Sinai Baptist Church in Youngstown.