Legendary Artist Synthia Saint James Dishes About Her Career and USPS 50th Anniversary Kwanzaa Stamp

Screenshot via Facebook. Original Photo by Leroy Hamilton

In 1966, pan-African scholar and activist Maulana Ndabezitha Karenga created Kwanzaa as a way to reconnect African-Americans with their West African roots.

The term “Kwanzaa” derives from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanzaa” which translates to “first fruits of the harvest.” From Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, families adhere to seven core principles such as Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility) and more. They typically create art and music, celebrate Black history, and wear traditional West African clothes like Kente cloth during the week-long holiday.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Kwanzaa, the United States Postal service released a new stamp on Oct. 1.

“I was commissioned by the Postal Service to paint the first Kwanzaa stamp in 1996, which was released as a 32-cents stamp on Oct. 22, 1997,” painter Dr. Synthia Saint James told Atlanta Black Star in an exclusive sit-down. “Nearly 19 years later in 2015, I was commissioned again by the USPS. This time to create/paint a Kwanzaa Forever Stamp.”

Read more here.

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