Quit Playin’: KwanzaaFest is “Really Coming Together!”

By Vincent L. Hall

That’s the theme for the 29th Annual Kwanzaa Fest celebration, and it really is coming together. Each year since 1991, when Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price and the Warriors launched the idea of Kwanzaa Fest, patrons want to know what Kwanzaa is all about. So let’s peer into pages of “Kwanzaa for Dummies,” where I learned about Kwanzaa. There are seven principles (Nguzo Saba) that are the foundation of Kwanzaa and Kwanzaa Fest.

Kwanzaa is seen as a “Black Holiday,” and we embrace that. But the tenets are universal, and we welcome people of all cultures to join in the celebration and the commemoration. Principle one is Umoja or Unity, which reminds us to strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race. Kujichagulia is Self-Determination. Ujima speaks to our Collective Work and Responsibility.

Ujamaa is about building Cooperative Economics. The first four principles round out our original purpose to create Education, Emancipation, and Enterprise. Nia translates as Purpose, and Kuumba speaks of the creativity that lives in all people, but especially marginalized communities. Mama says that poverty is the mother of invention. Finally, Imani points us toward our faith.

We believe in ourselves and in a creator who made us free and equal to all humankind. So, what happens at Kwanzaa Fest? Glad you asked. Long before anybody thought of Obama Care or “pre-existing conditions,” Kwanzaa Fest made the shift toward providing preventative health care initiatives to this community. Health Fest became the mainframe of our communal computations, and it has grown each year.

Where else can you get a FREE mammogram or a dental checkup for your child on the spot? Attendees will have the opportunity to access a wide range of health services at NO charge. Almost all of the health services at Kwanzaa Fest will be offered free of charge to both insured and uninsured individuals! Kwanzaa Fest provides a workable solution for those who cannot afford high deductible insurance costs.

You can get your diabetes or cholesterol screened, or talk to a physician or nurse about any health concerns without spending a dime! Some of the health screenings provided at the event this year include breast cancer screenings/ mammograms, cholesterol, and glucose screening; screening for HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and hepatitis C; kidney risk assessments and more!

You can even have consultations with pharmacists, physicians, and nurses who will be available throughout the weekend.

If you’re having trouble getting medical care, no worries – Parkland’s patient assistance team will be onsite to help you. There will also be other low-cost clinics like Foremost Family Health Centers.

Beyond the screenings, several groups will provide information on their services including Parkland Health and Hospital System, Children’s Health, Dallas County Health and Human Services, UT Southwestern Medical Center, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Methodist Health System, Texas Health Resources, and Baylor Scott & White Health.

Then too, with the reintroduction of Senior Fest — geriatrics and services for the sages in our community have never been so plentiful. With the senior population expected to triple over the next 20 – 30 years, so will economic disparity, food insecurity, lack of transportation, and social isolation. The Senior Fest Mobile Resource Center will provide valuable resources for Dallas County’s most vulnerable population.

You can get 311 information, Financial Literacy, Legal Assistance, as well as there will be representatives from Medicare and Medicaid, Nutritional Meal and Transportation Programs, SNAP Registration Assistance, and Utility Assistance Information, in a one-stop-shop environment. By the way, what’s your BMI? Body Mass Index can be an indicator or precursor of looming health issues.

In 2007, we introduced the 5K Walk/ Obesity Run as a tool for prevention and awareness. There are already 500 walkers/ runners enrolled, and we are waiting for you! Our “Parrish-Land” McDonald’s Kid Fest is expanding as well. The City of Dallas and Dallas County will showcase the outreach efforts of police and fire professionals to our kids. There will be live performances, video games, and science exploration provided by the Perot Museum…Can you spell $Free.99? There’ll be a performance stage for local talent, and you never know when a national artist might come by. (Cross ya fingers!) Go to johnwileyprice.com for ticket locations, vendor and volunteer opportunities, and updates. It’s Really Coming Together on Saturday and Sunday, December 14 and 15 at the State Fair of Texas Automobile Building. And it’s FREE!