LEIMERT PARK — A celebration and candle lighting ceremony marked the start of the seven-day African-American festival of Kwanzaa Dec. 26.
A series of Kwanzaa celebrations at the African American Cultural Center began with an Umoja (Unity) Celebration and Candle Lighting Ceremony, which included music, cultural expressions, refreshments and Umoja (unity) statements from community leaders.
Earlier in the day, the 15th annual Kwanzaa Heritage Festival and Block Parade was held in the Leimert Park Village.
Additional celebrations continued at the center through Jan. 1.
Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, now chair of Africana Studies at Cal State Long Beach, in what he called “an audacious act of self-determination.”
This year’s 50th anniversary of Kwanzaa “of necessity brings added focus and emphasis on its customary call for remembrance, reflection and commitment,” Karenga wrote in his annual founder’s message.
“We remember our history and the legacies left and the people who made and left them for us and the world,” Karenga wrote. “We reflect on the expansive meaning of being African in the world on the context and issues of our times and our way forward in struggle to forge a future responsive to our needs and interests as well as those of the world.
“And we recommit ourselves to our highest values, to our most anchoring, elevating and liberating practices and as ever to the good of our people and the well-being of the world.”
Kwanzaa’s focus is the “Nguzo Saba,” the Seven Principles — unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.
Twin boys killed
in house fire
SOUTH LOS ANGELES — Investigators are hoping to pinpoint the cause of a house fire Dec. 27 that killed 2-year-old twin boys and left their father hospitalized with critical injuries sustained when he tried in vain to rescue his sons.
The fire was reported about 9:05 p.m. in the 800 block of East 113th Street, between Central Avenue and Avalon Boulevard, said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey.
The twin boys, who were pronounced dead at a hospital, were identified by the coroner’s office as Brenton and Braeson Fortson.
The boys’ father was hospitalized with critical facial burns, and a woman, believed to be the children’s grandmother, suffered non-life-threatening injuries, authorities said.
Another woman, believed to be the nine-months-pregnant wife of the injured man and the children’s mother, escaped injury.
A 4-year-old girl was rescued by a neighbor prior to the firefighters’ arrival, Humphrey said.
SOUTH LOS ANGELES — Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating a hit-and-run motorist who struck a man riding a motorized bicycle Dec. 26, leaving him in critical condition.
The crash near the intersection of 48th Street and Ninth Avenue was captured on surveillance camera, the Los Angeles Police Department reported.
The victim, a 35-year-old man, was riding westbound on 48th Street when a motorist made a left onto Ninth Avenue and struck his motorized bicycle.
The motorist, who had at least one passenger inside his vehicle, failed to stop and did not render aid to the victim, as required by law, police said.
Officers dispatched to the scene at 3:40 p.m. Monday found the victim lying in the street.
Paramedics rushed the man to an area hospital, where he was listed in critical condition.
The motorist’s car was described as a burgundy or red 1997-99, four-door Oldsmobile Cutlass.
LAPD South Traffic Division detectives asked anyone with any information regarding the crash to call them at (323) 421-2500.
on justice system
SOUTH LOS ANGELES — “Justice Watch,” a community discussion about keeping young black and brown men and women out of conflict with law enforcement officers and the justice system, will be hosted by First AME Church, 2270 S. Harvard Blvd, from 8 to 10:30 p.m. Dec. 31.
Confirmed guests include District Attorney Jackie Lacey and law enforcement officers from the Los Angeles Police and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s departments. The public is invited. Parking is available in the lots on Harvard and Hobart boulevards.
Casino to ring
in the new year
INGLEWOOD — The new Hollywood Park Casino will partner with Power 106 for a New Year’s Eve celebration Dec. 31. J CRUZ and DJ Eman will host the casino’s event to ring in the new year starting at 9 p.m.
Patrons can enjoy music, dancing, hors d’oeuvres, party favors, a midnight champagne toast, and can spin to win up to $100,000. Entry is just $25 per person and is open to guests 21 and over. Free entry will be granted to those who purchase dinner inside the Century Bar & Grill. A special menu has been created.
Attire is dress to impress.
Free dance show
BEVERLY HILLS — The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 9390 Santa Monica Blvd., will host dance Sunday with Debbie Allen and Friends from noon to 2 p.m. Jan. 15.
Every second Sunday of the month, three-time Emmy Award-winner Debbie Allen offers free, outdoor dance events for the whole family. On Jan. 15, hip-hop master Chantel Heath will fill in for Allen and will lead an introduction to hip-hop.
L.A. Digest is designed to help promote events, activities and initiatives that are serving the interests of residents in L.A. To submit an item, send emails to email@example.com.