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Hudson Valley Press

January 9th, 2013

Sorority honors two local Kwanzaa pioneers

Bakari Adeyemi was honored by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. for bringing Kwanzaa to Poughkeepsie at Beulah Baptist Church in Poughkeepsie on Saturday, January 5, 2013. For the Hudson Valley Press/Dana Albon

By Dana Albon

POUGHKEEPSIE - The Mid Hudson Valley Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. proudly honored two local residents recently for their many contributions over the years in bringing Kwanzaa to the Hudson Valley.

Nearly one hundred local residents gathered at Beulah Baptist Church in Poughkeepsie to take part in a traditional Kwanzaa Celebration. "Years ago there was not a widespread Kwanzaa presence in the Mid-Hudson Valley as there is today," explained Bakari Adeyemi - one of the evenings honorees. Over the past twenty-five years he has been very involved with the community in such organization such as Catherine Street Community Center and the Mental Health Association of Dutchess County. Nadine K. Lewis was also honored for her role in expanding the presence of Kwanzaa in the local community, but was unable to attend the event.

Lewis and Adeyemi were honored by the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Alumnae Chapter for first bringing the Kwanzaa celebration to the City of Poughkeepsie in 1983. After graduating from Suny New Paltz, Adeyemi sought out local Kwanzaa celebrations, but his search yielded few results. Having experienced Kwanzaa growing up in New York City, he sought to bring it to the Mid-Hudson Valley.

"Over the years it has continued to grow through both the younger and older generations of the community," explained Adeyemi.

Also participating in the celebration were the Delta Dreamers. The group consists of local girls from ages 11-14. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. members act as both mentors and role models for this group of young ladies, who took part in the setting of the Kwanzaa table and provided entertainment.

Kwanzaa takes place between Christmas and New Years and has seven core values on which it stands: Unity, Self Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith. "Three words on why Kwanzaa is so important to this community: Family, Community, Unity," commented Adeyemi.

Because of community leaders like Nadine Lewis and Bakari Adeyemi, the Kwanzaa celebration is not only flourishing, but is engrained in the community.

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