The second principle is a commitment to building our lives in our own images and interests. If we, as a people, are to achieve our goals, we must take the responsibility for that achievement upon ourselves, for self-determination is the essence of freedom. This day calls for a reaffirmation of our commitment to struggle for all people of African descent, particularly those of us here in America, to build a more meaningful and fulfilling life.
The Kujichagulia principle says African Americans need to define and practice our own cultural values, celebrate our heroes and heroines, and contribute in our own way to bettering ourselves, our communities and institutions, the nation and the world. The essence of self-determination is freedom.
In fact, we see kujichagulia at work precisely in those moments when we fight for our freedom, and Washingtonians have long internalized this principle. Daniel Bell, a free man of color, showed us the meaning of kujichagulia when he chartered that now-famous ship, the Pearl, to steal away his family and their freedom from slavery in the middle of the night. Howard professor Carter G. Woodson set our minds free by promoting a month dedicated to our celebration of our long-forgotten black history. Julius Hobson founded the DC Statehood Party as a vehicle to help us free ourselves from the iron grip of congressional rule - for literal self-determination in the form of the vote. In fact, this body - the Ward 8 Democrats - works in this same vein, to create a space where we can advocate for ourselves and for our community in the face of those who might try to define us against our will.
As we celebrate Kwanzaa during a time that often seems that centuries of black progress are being rolled back, let us remember the principle of kujichagulia. Let us continue to insist upon defining ourselves, naming ourselves, speaking for and creating for ourselves, so that we might find that freedom for which our heroes fought so long.