Umoja Karamu, meaning "unity feast" in Swahili, is an African American celebration begun in 1971 by Edward Simms, Jr. Celebrated in a manner similar to Thanksgiving, Umoja Karamu is held on the fourth Sunday in November. Its purpose is to instill solidarity, black values, and appreciation of black heritage into black families. Prayers, libations to honor ancestors, historical readings, and feasts mark the observances.
The celebration is based on five periods of African American life, each represented by a color.
- Prior to Slavery - the color black, represents black families before slavery
- In Slavery - the color white, symbolizes the scattering blacks families during slavery
- Upon Emancipation - the color red, marks blacks' liberation from slavery
- Struggle for Liberation - the color green, significances the struggle for civil rights and equality
- Looking to the Future - the color gold, points celebrants to hope for the future
Umoja Karamu is said to be growing in popularity.