Sorority Honors Six at 20th Anniversary Kwanzaa Celebration


  Businesswoman Irma Pickering accepts the congratulations of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority President Annette Henderson Friday night in Franklin Powell Park. Pickering was among six persons chosen for their commitment to improve their community in the spirit of Kwanzaa.


Retired educator Larry Sewer was among six men and women honored Chapter Dec. 26 in Franklin Powell Park. After the ceremony Sewer spoke about the meaning Kwanzaa held for him, his travels to Ghana and the things he learned as he explored the history of his native St. John.

CRUZ BAY — A colorful, cultural night was enjoyed by visitors to Franklin Powell Park Dec. 26 as the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Sigma Theta Omega Chapter hosted their 20th Annual Kwanzaa celebration.

Honored at the event were six men and women from St. John and St. Thomas. Each was chosen to represent one of the seven principals of the ancient text used by Kwanzaa originator, Dr. Maulana Karenga. The seven principals of the Nguzo Saba are invoked for each day of the first fruits festival, which starts the day after Christmas.

Because the seventh principal – faith – did not have its own honoree, AKA soros designated the people of the Virgin Islands.

Retired educators May Richardson and Lawrence Sewer represented the principals of Umoja (unity) and Nia (purpose). Businesswoman Irma Pickering represented the principal of Kugichagulia (self-determination).

To represent the principal of Ujima (collective work and responsibility), soros chose engineer Felicia Blake. They presented retired senior services provider Edna Freeman as the embodiment of Ujamaa (cooperative economics).

Artist and sculptor Afreekan Southwell was honored for devoting his talents to the principal of Kuumba (creativity).

Southwell thanked AKA for making him a part of the annual celebration. Freeman spoke of her continuing devotion to the seniors of St. John, years after retiring from the Department of Human Services.

Richardson extended the tidings of the season to the crowd and wished them God’s blessings. Sewer thanked his family and spoke about his formative years living on St. John.

Pickering’s children and grandchildren, members of the Inner Visions Reggae Band, sent a letter that was read at the Friday ceremony. They praised their matriarch for her dedication to their family and her community.

Blake, herself a member of AKA, thanked her sorors for their dedication to upholding the Kwanzaa tradition year after year.

“I am also a Pan Africanist and we serve our community,” she said. One person can’t make a difference, all of us can make a difference together.”

As the ceremonial portion of the program wrapped up and the Mungo Niles dancers swirled in a quelbay performance, Sewer told what Kwanzaa meant to him. He said he lived in California in the late 1960s when Dr. Karenga invoked the Kwanzaa concept.

There were those at the time expressing fear that Kwanzaa would become a replacement for Christmas but Sewer said he remembered Karenga saying the festival of the first fruits was meant to build the community through application of the seven principals.