Gregory and Kathleen Mitchell light two candles on the kinara, one black and one red, on the second night of Kwanzaa, as their mother Kimberly watches at Flossmoor Park. (Bill Jones/H-F Chronicle)
Feature, Local News

Flossmoor’s Mitchell family lights kinara on Night 2 of Kwanzaa, celebrating self-determination

During the second night of Flossmoor’s public celebration of Kwanzaa, the Principle being celebrated was Kujichagulia, or Self-Determination. And Mayor Michelle Nelson said she was happy the village’s Mitchell family was there to lead the festivities on Tuesday, Dec. 27.

“I’m so honored that you would pick this night, because I know you well enough that I think I can say that you have so much self-determination,” Nelson said. “You know who you are. You are constantly thinking about others and how our actions … affect others.”

On the second night of the Kwanzaa celebration at Flossmoor Park, Mayor Michelle Nelson introduces the Mitchell Family, (left to right) Gregory, Kathleen, Kimberly and Fredric. (Bill Jones/H-F Chronicle)
On the second night of the Kwanzaa celebration at Flossmoor Park, Mayor Michelle Nelson introduces the Mitchell Family, (left to right) Gregory, Kathleen, Kimberly and Fredric. (Bill Jones/H-F Chronicle)

Kimberly Mitchell admitted when she learned about the village’s community Kwanzaa celebration on Facebook and signed up the family, she was not thinking much about which night she selected.

“It’s a coincidence, but it did work out in our favor,” she said. “I’m glad we picked this night. We are actually a very self-determined family.”

The children, Gregory and Kathleen, did the honors of lighting two candles on the kinara, one black and one red. And Gregory spoke to the gathered crowd about the second of the Seven Principles celebrated over the course of Kwanzaa.

“Self-determination to me is you never give up,” Gregory said. “You focus on your goals and believe in yourself.”

Kimberly added, “It’s about doing something maybe you were afraid of doing and going ahead and getting it done.”

“Self-determination is a big part of my life,” Fredric Mitchell said. “I started my business five years ago. It’s always scary to jump out there with mortgages and kids and everything like that. But to be able to maintain it and have another successful year, I’m very happy and feel very blessed to be here with you all.”

Gregory and Kathleen Mitchell light two candles on the kinara, one black and one red, on the second night of Kwanzaa, as their mother Kimberly watches at Flossmoor Park. (Bill Jones/H-F Chronicle)
Gregory and Kathleen Mitchell light two candles on the kinara, one black and one red, on the second night of Kwanzaa, as their mother Kimberly watches at Flossmoor Park. (Bill Jones/H-F Chronicle)

Fredric said he grew up celebrating Kwanzaa with his family.

“We used to do it a lot when I was younger,” he said. “We would sing a lot of different music. We would actually build the kinara and go through the principles, things of that nature, a little bit of history.”

Kimberly said the family does not always celebrate Kwanzaa at home, but they are trying to get better about doing so. The extended family has a group chat, in which they discuss the different days and what they mean, as well as share articles about the meanings and traditions for the children to read.

“I’ve never lit the kinara before,” Gregory said. “I’m pretty new to Kwanzaa, so I appreciate my parents telling me about it and our family sharing the articles and helping us learn.”

Seeing Flossmoor recognize the holiday in a public space helps, too, Kimberly said.

“I find it valuable that they even have this and celebrate it,” she said. “I want to take part in anything that celebrates African-American culture and show our kids that our community celebrates us and embraces it. … Hopefully we’ll continue this tradition of celebrating it and lighting it.” 

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