The fifth day of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa’s fifth principle is purpose, and empowerment through purpose is an important strength that has served the Black community well. Sometimes purpose, a vision of what can and should be, is about all they have had!

Here in the United States today, we continue to re-fight battles that should long ago have been won. Still today, a hundred small and large disadvantages assail African-Americans at every encounter. Continually.

A square, green, orange, and black background sets off Jeffrey St. Clair’s rectangular design for the fifth day of Kwanzaa. On the left side of St. Clair’s orange rectangle is a square symbol of “Nia,” or Purpose. The words that surround it say, “The seven principles: Nia: Purpose. To restore African-American people to their traditional greatness.”
Image by, and courtesy of, Jeffrey St. Clair. See Credits below.

Purpose Empowers Dreams

All Americans stand to gain, if only we can keep working together for the goal of realizing the dream of true equality. It is only when all of us are empowered to reach our full potential that we will truly reach greatness. We move forward without a vision of where we are going. But we first must find a purpose to power our dreams.

This square gray image features a sepia-brown photo of Harriet Tubman in later life, wearing a patterned head-scarf, a dark shawl, and a long dark skirt, with her hands clasped in front of her. The words to her right say, “‘Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.’ -Harriet Tubman. African American History Month.”
Courtesy of @Songs4Teaching on X. See Credits below.

Empowerment through Purpose

When our leaders have the integrity to follow their vision of equity and justice for all, the community prospers. Empowerment through purpose builds us up when it is directed toward the common good. Until our country achieves the deepest, truest, most equitable form of what it aspires (and purports) to be, African-American people will not be “restored to their traditional greatness,” and all the rest of us will fall short, too.

But let’s not just put it on the shoulders of our leaders. It’s up to us to motivate them, pay attention to what they do, and hold them accountable. Our leaders are only as good as we demand that they be.

This black square image features a black and white picture of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the right. On the left it says, “‘If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.’ -Martin Luther King Jr.”
Photo courtesy of Covenant House TO on X. See Credits below.

Let Empowerment through Purpose fuel the Future

The long fight for equity and justice for all, in all aspects of our public lives in a multicultural democracy has not ended. Far from it! Each generation has an obligation to advance on that goal. In the year to come and throughout our lives, let us gain empowerment through purpose to move our communities toward that greater vision.


Many thanks to Jeffrey St. Clair via LinkedIn’s SlideShare, for the nicely designed symbol image and “seven principles” slide. I’m grateful to Songs for Teaching on X (@Songs4Teaching) for the Harriet Tubman quote, and to Covenant House TO on X (@CovenantHouseTO) for the Martin Luther King, Jr. quote.