The National Black United Front – Kansas City (NBUFKC), in partnership with the American Jazz Museum will sponsor its 41st Annual City-Wide Kwanzaa Celebration from Dec. 26-  Jan. 1.   

Monday thru Saturday’s celebrations will be held at the Gem Theater, 1615 E. 18th St., Kansas City, beginning at 6 p.m. with an African Marketplace featuring vendors, artisans, crafts-person and food.   Each evening the celebration will begin at 7 p.m. and feature programming based on the Kwanzaa Principle of the day.  Each evening will also feature talented performance from groups/organizations in the community.  The celebrations are free and open to the public.  

The final day of Kwanzaa, Jan. 1, 3 p.m. at the NBUFKC office, 7714 Prospect, KCMO.   

All Kwanzaa events will also be available for virtual participation. 

The theme for Kwanzaa 2022 is “Reclaiming Our Community Through Cooperative Economics.”  “The theme acknowledges the current displacement of Black children in the inner city by school closings,” said  Jawanza Hardy, the event coordinator.  “We also acknowledge with our theme the lack of investment in African Centered Education, the displacement of Black residents whose families have lived in the inner city of Kansas City for generations, and the continual delay of action on reparations for Black people.”   

The 2022 Kwanzaa schedule of performers for each night is as follows:  

Dec. 26 Umoja (Unity) will include dance performances by students from the Esoke Cultural Arts Center, a  performing arts organization, dedicated to improving the self-esteem and cultural awareness of Kansas City’s youth through the arts of the African diaspora. 

Dec. 27 Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) programming for this evening will feature scholars from the African Centered College Prep Academy.  Scholars from ACPREP Elementary and Art In Motion Multiple Performing Arts Company will collectively share a variety of dance presentations, poetic expressions, select vocals and drum interpretations.

Dec. 28 Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)this evening will feature a play by Martin Chisolms about the obstacles and struggles Black Farmers face while trying to provide a living and healthy food options to the Black Community.

Dec. 29 Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) will feature a Buy Black Empowerment Initiative Fashion Show.

Dec. 30 Nia (Purpose) will include a performance by the A Flat Youth Orchestra – a community-based youth orchestra founded just 6 years ago as a partnership of conductor  Darryl Chamberlain and St. James UMC.

Dec. 31 Kuumba (Creativity) led by the American Jazz Museum, this evening will feature a selection of performances by jazz singers and musicians.  

Jan. 1, 2022 Imani (Faith) is the Karamu, the celebratory communal feast.  Attendees are asked to bring a dish to contribute to the meal.  

Popular host John Riley will return to host each night of the celebration.  

All Kwanzaa events are free and open to the public. People can join the celebration virtually at home. For more information call 816-645-7303 or

Understanding Kwanzaa 

The celebration of Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga. 

Kwanzaa means “the first fruits of the harvest” in the Kiswahili language. 

By studying ancient and modern African harvest celebrations, Dr. Karenga created a holiday that focused on the African American people as a collective rather than on the individual. During Kwanzaa, people of the community are called together to reflect on the blessings of the past year and prepare for the future. 

The foundation of Kwanzaa is the Nguzo Saba, or Seven Principles. The principles are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. Each night of Kwanzaa one of the principles is celebrated to remind everyone of its significance in the lives of Black people and the good it can bring to the community.