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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama issued a statement to Black families around the nation celebrating Kwanzaa this year.

Michelle and I extend our best wishes to all those celebrating Kwanzaa this holiday season. Today marks the beginning of the week-long celebration of African American culture through family activities and community festivities that bring attention to Kwanzaa’s seven principles of unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Though each principle represents the essence of this holiday, they also represent the shared values that bind us as Americans.

As families and communities across our country come together today to light the Kinara, our family sends our hopes for a prosperous and healthy new year.

Kwanzaa was founded in 1966 by controversial activist Dr. Maulana Karenga and is celebrated from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1.

The seven principles of Kwanzaa are: Umoja (Unity); Kujichagulia (Self-determination); Ujima (Collective work and responsibility); Ujamaa (Cooperative economics); Nia (Purpose); Kuumba (Creativity); and Imani (Faith).

Learn more about Kwanzaa below:

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