Kwanzaa has been a tradition among African-American families since the mid ’60s. Introduced to the United States by Dr. Maulana Karenga as a response to the commercialism of Christmas, Kwanzaa has gained an incredible following, and is often mentioned in the same conversation with Christmas and Hanukkah.
Last year, a group of brown creatives decided to introduce a new way to celebrate Kwanzaa. Led by Brooklyn-born comedian Kerry Coddett’s Operation Mobilize, they set forth a new concept called The Kwanzaa Crawl.
Now, we know what you’re thinking: “What is a Kwanzaa Crawl?” It’s pretty simple actually. It’s a bar crawl that invites people of the African diaspora to come together and support Black-owned bars in Harlem and neighborhoods across Brooklyn, from Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights to Prospect Heights, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, and Park Slope. Crawlers are encouraged to dress in “whatever makes them feel unapologetically Black and beautiful” for a day of drinking. Each group is equipped with a bullhorn filled with music ranging from Christmas carols to trap hits, for the purposes of singing (in the streets) as they walk from bar to bar. Dope, right? Here are five more reasons you should attend this year.
1. Each bar is 100 percent Black-owned.
No really, from Brooklyn to Harlem, each bar is owned by Black proprietors.
2. It’s a set-up for an awesome day.
Each bar provides drink and food specials and a great DJ, setting the mood for dancing, networking, solidifying your cuffing season buddy, or all three. And it all goes down the day after Christmas, also known as the first day of Kwanzaa.
3. It’s really about Kwanzaa.
The creators go out of their way to teach all the principles of Kwanzaa with a full introduction of meaning, principles and even the singing of the Black national anthem at check-in.
4. It ain’t bourgeois.
Now if you’re like me, the minute you hear the words “bar crawl,” your bourgeois side comes out just a little bit. Even if you’ve never attended a bar crawl, you’ve probably seen or heard of one. The very idea of drinking at multiple bars on the same night with a group of people you may not know can be pretty exhausting. But last year, I faced my demons and ignored my uppity side to join the inaugural crawl. I had an amazing time!
5. It’s growing!
In its first year, the crawl attracted about 1,600 attendees. In 2017, the crawl registered a little over 3,000 crawlers, covered over 25 bars across the two boroughs, and went from noon to 1 a.m. For the ticket price of $20, crawlers were equipped with a KC cup (which garnered them drink specials and even free drinks at a few bars), wristband, and a KC Map. Participants chose a route of four bars to crawl, led by team leaders, and a portion of the proceeds went to Black-owned organizations Barbershop Books and The BLK ProjeK. Public advocate Letitia James and other local politicians helped to sponsor the event as well.