LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A parade was held along Crenshaw Boulevard Wednesday to mark the start of the seven-day African American festival of Kwanzaa.

The theme of the 36th annual Kwanzaa Gwaride Parade and Festival was “Freedom from Obesity,” according to R.W. Akile of KwanZaa People of Color, which organizes the parade and festival.

Dr. Mezia O. Azinge Obasi, the owner of Dr. Paul Memorial Medical Center and a provider of family and alternative medicine health care, was the Iyaba (queen) of the parade and Lamar Price, a certified iridologist and practitioner of alternative medicine, was the Oba (king).

The parade began at the corner of Crenshaw and Adams boulevards, then headed south along Crenshaw to Leimert Park, where it concluded. A festival followed in Leimert Park.

Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, now chair of Cal State Long Beach’s Department of Africana Studies, in what he called “an audacious act of self-determination.”

The holiday’s focus is the “Nguzo Saba,” the Seven Principles — unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

“The celebration and season of Kwanzaa is a deeply meaningful and special time of remembrance, reflection and recommitment for us as a people throughout the world African community,” Karenga wrote in his annual founder’s message.

President Barack Obama said in a statement, “To many, Kwanzaa serves as a time of reflection — taking lessons learned from our past and looking forward to a more promising tomorrow.

“It reminds us that though there is much to be thankful for, we must recommit ourselves to building a country where all Americans have the opportunity to achieve their dreams.”

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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