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Charlotte S. Williams, an Atlanta resident, visits Eastdale Village Community Church where she will take part in a Kwanzaa event. Her father is the pastor at the church.

Blacks in Chattanooga are expected to join thousands throughout the country celebrating their culture and achievements next week by participating in Kwanzaa.

The seven-day celebration runs Sunday through Jan. 1.

"It's an annual reaffirmation of commitment that we as African-Americans should have toward bettering ourselves," said Booker T. Scruggs, local musician and a part-time sociology professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Kwanzaa celebrations are planned at Eastdale Village Community Church on Sunday, the Bessie Smith Cultural Center on Tuesday and Union Hill Missionary Baptist Church on Wednesday.

Kwanzaa focuses on seven principles intended to strengthen the black community -- unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

The observance calls on blacks in America to define themselves and to build and maintain their communities, according to the official Kwanzaa website.

Charlotte S. Williams, who will host Eastdale's Kwanzaa celebration, said youths are killing and fighting each other because they don't know their story.


• Eastdale Village Community Church, 1403 Tunnel Blvd., 3 p.m. Sunday.

• Bessie Smith Cultural Center, 200 E. M.L. King Blvd.; the film "The Black Candle" will be shown from noon-1 p.m. Tuesday

• Union Hill Missionary Baptist Church, 1800 N. Chamberlain Ave., 6 p.m. Wednesday; speakers include state Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga

"The proverb says it takes a village to raise a child, but if the village no longer exists, then this is the repercussion," Williams said.

Josephine Bradley, chairwoman of the African-American Studies Department at Clark Atlanta University, is a scheduled speaker at Eastdale on Sunday.

Williams said the Kwanzaa celebration also will honor people for contributions they have made.

Honorees at the Eastdale Kwanzaa celebration include Bradley, Scruggs and state Rep. Tommie Brown, D-Chattanooga. Also attending are drug and alcohol counselors Patricia Sublett and Carrie Wilkerson and Patricia Lee, who has a ministry focused on empowering women.

These are people who have exemplified the principles of Kwanzaa throughout their lives, said Williams.