Kwanzaa Celebration To Honor Dorothy Stewart and Isaac Byrd

On Wednesday, December 26, enjoy free live music, dancing, and poetry during the 2018 Kwanzaa Celebration in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium at the Two Mississippi Museums. Organized annually by Women for Progress, Inc., the program honors community leaders that embody Kwanzaa principles. A light reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the program will start at 6 p.m.

"We are overjoyed to again be celebrating Kwanzaa at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum,” said museum director Pamela Junior. “Our partnership with Women for Progress for last year’s program was a great success, and this year, we’ll celebrate Dorothy Stewart and Isaac Byrd—great pillars of the community whose work has reached an international level."

“This is our first Kwanzaa without my mother, Dorothy Stewart Samuel, who started this tradition through Women for Progress more than thirty years ago,” said Angela Stewart, event organizer and co-host of the program. “Over the years, we have held this program at the Stringer MW Grand Lodge, the home of Jackson attorney Isaac Byrd—who we are also honoring along with my mother—and now at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.”

Dorothy Stewart Samuel, a founding member of Women for Progress, Inc., died on July 6, 2018. She was an educator, historian, and political activist. A supporter of the arts and humanities, Samuel served on the boards of numerous organizations, including the Margaret Walker Center, the Jackson Urban Guild, the Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center, and Mission Mississippi. She initiated the observance of Kwanzaa to increase cultural awareness in the community.

Isaac Byrd has worked as an attorney and political consultant in Jackson for more than forty years. Byrd was involved in William Winter’s 1979 campaign for governor and Harvey Johnson’s 1997 campaign for mayor of Jackson. He later served as a chancery court judge and is a board member of several community organizations.

Jackson State University instructor C. Liegh McInnis will serve as co-host with Stewart and recite original works of poetry. Also performing will be Deanna Tisdale-Johnson, Cynthia Goodloe Palmer, and Pastor Tonya Ware.

Created by Maulana Karenga in 1966, Kwanzaa is based on year-end harvest festivals that have taken place throughout Africa for thousands of years. The holiday, which honors African heritage through seven core principles, is celebrated annually from December 26 to January 1 by more than 18 million people.

Women for Progress, Inc. was founded in 1978 as a non-profit to become a major agent of change in the state of Mississippi. Today, it is a grant-making and advocacy organization that supports programs for women and girls. In addition to organizing the Kwanzaa celebration, the group also hosts a weekly radio show, Women for Progress Radio, to discuss issues that impact women in the community.

The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum opened alongside the Museum of Mississippi History in December 2017 in celebration of the state's bicentennial. The Museum of Mississippi History explores the entire sweep of the state's history. The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, the first state-operated civil rights museum in the country, explores the period from 1945 to 1976, when Mississippi was ground zero for the Civil Rights Movement nationally. The museums are open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.

For more information, call 601-576-6800 or visit http://www.mcrm.mdah.ms.gov.