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Indiana Black Expo hosts Kwanzaa celebration in South Bend

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The South Bend Chapter Indiana Black Expo hosted a Kwanzaa celebration on Friday and chose to honor local community members as elders of the community for their achievements.

Kwanzaa is made up of seven principles, or candles, with each one holding a different meaning: Unity, self-determination, cooperative economics, creativity, collective work and responsibility, purpose and faith.

Each candle is lit on a different day, starting with the day after Christmas.

“The meaning of Kwanzaa is just unity and so it’s coming together as a community. To be able to not only come together but to celebrate African American culture,” said Latorya Greene, Chapter President of the South Bend Chapter Indiana Black Expo.

Local Rebecca Johnson was just one of the honorees, and says that she has lived in South Bend since the 40’s. She was with the NAACP for decades and now helps the community through her research.

“You don’t pay attention what you’re doing, you just do it. You don’t say I’m going to do this cause this is going to be cute, everybody going to be proud of me,” Johnson said.

Lifelong local, Lynn Coleman, was also recognized.

“You don’t do it for recognition or for awards, you do it because it’s right to do,” Coleman said.

Coleman earned the Elder Designation for his time on the South Bend Police Department on former Mayor Stephen Leuke’s staff, and for his involvement in several youth organizations.

“We’ve volunteered and been a part of boards and commissions and organizations throughout this community all in an attempt to better somebody else’s life, especially young people to give them a better life than we had,” Coleman said. “We are living in an extremely divisive time right now across this country in a lot of different aspects, and at some point we’re going to have to begin to recognize that we are all a part of one and it makes sense for us to try to unify.”

He believes that integrating the principles into everyday life will help shape the future.

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