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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, May 17, 2024


Sigma Theta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. selected Guy H. Benjamin as this year's honoree at their sixth annual Kwanzaa Celebration in Cruz Bay Park on Tuesday, the first day of Kwanzaa (Dec. 26).
Benjamin, a lifelong educator, has led the way in improving education and educational opportunities for St. Johnians. He was the first St. Johnian to obtain a diploma from Charlotte Amalie High School on St. Thomas.
Because he knew the value of an education, Benjamin convinced the Department of Education to pay St. John high school students' room and board so that they could attend high school in St. Thomas. He demanded that flush toilets be installed in St. John schools, despite resistance from a commissioner of the Public Works Department.
Kwanzaa, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1, is a time when African people celebrate their heritage and achievement, pay reverence to the Creator and creation, commemorate the past, recommit to cultural ideals and celebrate the good.
Miss Lucille Parsons explained "Dr. Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966 so that we as a people could reaffirm the communitarian vision and values of African culture while contributing to the restoration of African peoples in the Diaspora. It is not a religious holiday and it does not take the place of Christmas. "
University of the Virgin Islands Prof. Gene Emanuel, the main speaker, highlighted the importance of Kwanzaa's Nguzo Saba (or the Seven Principles. He said these Principles—unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith—help to build and reinforce family, community, and culture and should be practiced daily and not just during Kwanzaa.
Although the holiday has meaning for people of all ages, Kwanzaa emphasizes the role of children, the hope and future of the world.
Benjamin graciously thanked Kasiem Marsh, a fifth grade student who attends the elementary school that was named in his honor for introducing him. He said he knows much more about Kwanzaa and its purpose after listening to Prof. Emanuel.
Guy H. Benjamin Elementary School students under the direction of Mrs. Lisa Penn paid tribute to the school's namesake with an upbeat choral reading of "Black is Beautiful."
Love City Pan Dragons Steel Band, who played several selections during the program, entertained a crowd that could not get enough of the music.
The pleased honoree said, "Everything was good: the music, the students from my school and the program."
Nguzo Saba (Seven Principles)
Umoja (Unity) "To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race."
Kujichagulia (Self-determination) "To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves."
Ujima (Collective Work & responsibility) "To build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems and to solve them together"
Ujamma (Cooperative economics) "To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together."
Nia (Purpose) "To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness."
Kuumba (Creativity) "To do always as much as we can, in the way that we can in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it."
Imani (Faith) "To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle."

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