Karibu House welcomes home Kwanzaa

By Jan Stevenson

DETROIT -

Celebration and excitement permeated the annual Pre-Kwanzaa Brunch celebration on Dec. 13, starting with a heartfelt cheer for the "Year of Obama" and continuing with joyous congratulations to new racially-diverse leaders at The Triangle Foundation and Karibu House.

Dr. Kofi Adoma, president of Karibu House, welcomed the crowd of about 60 people to the catered event at the Charles Wright Museum of African-American History, and she announced that she is stepping down as president after serving in that role for all 11 years of the organization's existence. She is being replaced by Reynaldo A. Magdaleno, the group's current vice president.

"I have enormous shoes to fill," said Magdaleno in homage to Adoma. "I am excited and humbled though to have the opportunity to give my energy and commitment to this organization that I believe in so much."

Karibu, which means "welcome home" in Swahili, was selected as the African-American LGBTA community center project's name because their ultimate goal is to get a building for the center. "I feel it will happen sooner than later," Adoma said of obtaining a building for the community center. "Detroit is a big, wide area and we need a community center within the city itself, one where we can have a safe space that we can call home."

Adoma also announced that Karibu House has a new home. The group has moved their operations into the offices of Community Health Outreach Workers, an AIDS service agency in Detroit. The larger space will allow Karibu House to offer expanded programs and more meeting space for the groups that use the center project.

Four awards were presented to community leaders. Alicia Skillman received the Imani Award for community service in recognition of her work in founding S.P.I.C.E. and Healing Detroit. She was also warmly congratulated by the crowd for her being named the new executive director of Detroit's Triangle Foundation, a position she will assume after the first of the year.

Howard Israel and Katie Brisson were both awarded the Clifford Weems award for diversity and equality. Israel and Brisson have worked together at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan to make the Racial Equality initiative a reality. This initiative will fund projects that address issues of race and equality within the LGBT community.

Derek Smiertka, former executive director of Michigan Equality, was awarded the Ujima Award for leadership in recognition of his work in getting the Mayor of Detroit's office to establish an office of liaison to the LGBT community.

Kwanzaa, an African American holiday celebration established in 1968, runs for seven days from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, each day commemorating one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa: Unity, Self-determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith. The Karibu House annual Pre-Kwanzaa event is the kickoff for seven events (see list below).

Kwanzaa Schedule 2008: the Year of Obama

All events begin at 7 p.m. (except when noted otherwise). If possible, bring a handmade wrapped gift. Call for locations at 313-865-2170 ext. 3:

Friday, Dec. 26, Umoja (Unity) Sponsored by American Friends Service Committee and hosted by Khristian Spellman

Saturday, Dec. 27, Kujichagulia (Self-determination) Hosted by Dr. D. Watson, African Naming Ceremony

Sunday, Dec. 28, Ujima (Collective Work & Responsibility) Sponsored by KICK!

Monday, Dec. 29, Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) Sponsored by A.L.O.R.D.E. Collective

Tuesday, Dec. 30, NIA (Purpose) Sponsored by MAPP, hosted by Royale Theus

Wednesday, Dec. 31, Kuumba (Creativity) 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Sponsored by Affirmations, hosted by Tyesha Rodriguez.

Thursday, Jan 1, Imani (Faith) Kids Kwanzaa Klub Party. Co-sponsored by New Birth AJB, Full Truth Church, and Unity Fellowship Church.

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