Fact check: Columnist claims Kwanzaa is “older than” Hanukkah, Christmas – but it was really made up by a felon


The following includes content which is editorial in nature and expresses the opinion of the writer. 

Well, the don’t call it the Atlanta Urinal Constipation for nothing. In a bizarre piece published earlier this month, Ashleigh Atwel of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution made the ridiculous claim that Kwanzaa, which was made up by a convicted felon in 1966, is “older than Christmas and Hanukkah.”

Atwel is apparently trying to give cover to old giggles herself, Kamala Harris, who herself has claimed that as a Jamaican partially of Indian descent, her family celebrated Kwanzaa when she was “a little girl.”

According to the Post Millennial, Atwel published what has got to be an opinion piece in which she made her easily debunked claim.

In fact, Kwanzaa was invented by a black nationalist, Maulana Karenga aka Ron Everett. He was the leader of the group called the United Slaves. He was an avowed Marxist who had been convicted on felony counts of assault and false imprisonment.

The name “Kwanzaa” was taken from a Swahili phrase, matunda y kwanza’ which loosely translates to “first fruits of the harvest.” In her piece, Atwel quoted an interview conducted in 2000 by Belief.net, where Karenga said, “A central model for Kwanzaa is umkhosi or the Zulu first-fruit celebration which is seven days and is celebrated about this time.”

Continuing, Karenga said:

“Other first-fruit celebrations were celebrated at the end of the old year and the beginning of the New Year, such as Pert-em-Min of ancient Egypt. So, Kwanzaa’s model is older than Christmas and Hanukkah and thus does not borrow from them or seek to imitate them.”

Kwanzaa however directly borrows from the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, with the event celebrated across seven (as opposed to eight) with a candle being lit each night.

The candles are representative of feelings and broad ideas such as purpose and unity. At the end of the seven days, gifts are exchanged…just like Christmas.

So, how did Kwanzaa come about? Karenga, a racist, believed that Christmas was “too white.” According to Christian doctrine, the Christmas tradition celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Jesus was of course also a man.

Christianity, which originated in the Middle East is explicitly designed for all nations and is transcends color, ethnicity and creed, the Post Millennial writes.


Atwel however quoted a Time magazine piece in which Karenga claimed he created Kwanzaa because blacks didn’t have a holiday of their own.

In a piece in the Federalist, “Kwanzaa is a Fake Holiday Invented By A Criminal Marxist,” liberals attempt to tout the cultural significance of Kwanzaa despite the rather ominous criminal history of its creator, Karenga.

In a Los Angeles Times op-ed from 1971, “The dark side of Kwanzaa’s founder can’t extinguish the holiday’s beacon,” examines that dark side.

For example, the article quoted testimony given by one of Karenga’s victims:

“Deborah Jones, who once was given the Swahili title of an African queen, said she and Gail Davis were whipped with an electrical cord and beaten with a karate baton after being ordered to remove their clothes. She testified that a hot soldering iron was placed in Miss Davis’s mouth and placed against Miss Davis’s face and that one of her big toes was tightened in a vise. Karenga, head of US [United Slaves], also put detergent and running hoses in their mouths, she said. They were also hit on the heads with toasters.”

The concept of Pert-em-Min touted by Karenga comes from a book called the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

The overview of the book advises Egyptians believed in an afterlife, with instructions for the souls that pass on and enter into the Land of the Gods. It also describes “detailed rituals to be performed for the dead.”

As you can see, Pert-em-Min has absolutely zero to do with celebration of a holiday.

Hanukkah meanwhile dates back to times following the death of Alexander the Great, the ancient Macedonian leader who was responsible for conquering the Persian Empire. The best records show Hanukkah began about 164 BC, which “commemorates the miracle of light that occurred when Judah rededicated the Temple to the Hebrew god, according to National Geographic.

That year, Judah won back Jerusalem and restored the temple. The Seleucids were ultimately driven from Judea in 160 BC. According to one of the holy texts, Talmud, the Seleucids left in place only one intact vial of oil, which was just enough to light the Temple’s candelabrum for one day. However it burned for eight days—enough time for the Judeans to acquire more oil—and the miracle of that event became the foundation for what is now known as Hanukkah.

Meanwhile, according to Christianity.com, Christmas has been celebrated since 336 A.D. That is the first recorded instance of Christmas being celebrated. Up until that time, it wasn’t the birth of Christ that received all the attention, but rather the date of his baptism, the Epiphany on January 6.

While a number of other celebrations and feasts are mentioned in early history, Kwanzaa was not. And that is because up until a criminal made it up in 1966, it never existed…despite what leftists like Atwel claim.

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