Kwanzaa celebration sparks controversy - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Andrew Douglas

Kwanzaa celebration sparks controversy

Kwanzaa, a celebration of family community and African culture that began almost forty years ago. In Shelby County, commissioner Henri Brooks has sponsored a Kwanzaa event at the Pink Palace for the past 12 years. But this year Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks says the pink palace wanted to charge taxpayers $300 dollars.

"We didn't think we should pay $300 dollars," Brooks said.

So an e-mail was sent out Tuesday afternoon inviting everyone to this year's Kwanzaa event sponsored by commissioner Brooks. The location? The County Commission chambers.
"I think it is really good for the public to come to a public building a building that their tax dollars pay for," Brooks said.

But the e-mail didn't sit well with Probate court clerk Chris Thomas.

"This is not about me wanting to stop a Kwanzaa celebration. It's about discriminating against Christians and Jews," Thomas said.   

Thomas says you cannot celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah in the chambers and Kwanzaa shouldn't be an exception.
Commissioner Brooks insists Kwanzaa is not religious or political and therefore okay.

"Ms. Brooks needs to visit the official Kwanzaa website. I've done my homework on that website it talks about celebrating our creator and creation," Thomas said.
Thomas insists Kwanzaa is religious and the county can't discriminate.

If the celebration is not stopped inside commission chambers, Thomas says he'll sue.

Click here to e-mail Andrew Douglas.

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