This year’s Kwanzaa Crawl supports Black-owned businesses for its sixth annual event.

To celebrate Kwanzaa, Brooklyn’s annual Kwanzaa Crawl is amplifying Black-owned businesses in the New York City borough. Its sixth iteration brought over 5,000 attendees to participate.

The event, held on Dec. 26, also helped raise money to help these businesses as they continue into the new year, with over $1 million raised for Black entrepreneurs with 50 establishments in Flatbush, Crown Heights, Bed-Stuy, and Bushwick. For the crawl, which began with a candle-lighting and singing of the Black national anthem, thousands of participants split into teams to take on the expansive bar-hopping experience. The event is meant to celebrate Black entrepreneurship in Brooklyn through this fun endeavor. Local news outlet PIX11 spoke to participants about what it means to the community.

“It’s all Black-led, Black-owned businesses,” said Stephanie Cancel, who attended this year. “It’s a bunch of amazing entrepreneurs, Black professionals. Everybody from everywhere that is Black in Brooklyn, coming out and celebrating and turning up.”

The Kwanzaa Crawl’s co-founder Kerry Coddett, who started the event with her sister Kristal Payne in 2016, also spoke to the publication about the important reasoning behind the crawl, sharing that the height of police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement sparked the idea to bring hope to the neighborhood.

“After so many consecutive killings of unarmed Black men, we were just in a state of hopelessness and frustration,” said Coddett. “Things felt really dark, and we thought, ‘What can we do to celebrate ourselves? What can we do to bring our community together?”

In not only uplifting Black-owned businesses, its connection to Kwanzaa remains as prevalent as ever, with the holiday celebrated from Dec. 26-Jan 1. According to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, this year’s theme is Umoja, meaning unity in family, community, nation, and race. Its theme is maintained throughout the crawl.

“Kwanzaa is all about family and community,” shared the event’s emcee, Rice. “This Kwanzaa crawl represents cooperative economics, Ujima, cooperative economics that we are better together than we are separate,” Rice added.  

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