Today is the sixth day of Kwanzaa and today observers of will acknowledge Kuumba which means creativity.

Kuumba is a commitment to using one’s creativity to improve the community and leave a legacy that builds on the accomplishments of the ancestors. 

As a teenager, creativity helped Cheryl Bowers to figure out how to help herself and other kids from low-income families. She was a high school athlete who ran track and played basketball, so sneaker culture was part of her lifestyle from adolescence: “I saw people at school getting made fun of if you had old dirty sneakers, so I’d clean them and switch up the laces to make it look like my sneakers were changed,” Bowers told BK Reader.

Her sneaker cleaning and maintenance methods worked well–so that she used her process to help other kids from low-income families. 

As an adult, Bowers found herself in a dead-end job, working as a janitor, even though she was a bonafide creative. Her resume included music producer, photographer and mural painter. “I realized I needed to create something to sustain my life so I don’t end up in that position [living from paycheck to paycheck],” she told BK Reader.

In the spirit of Kuumba, Bowers spoke with BK Reader about how she collaborated with another entrepreneur and used her creativity to form a new business around her passion for sneakers. It’s a business that helps low-income families to save money at a time when expensive sneaker culture demands that they stay in fashion. Here’s a link to that story.

Beginning on Sunday, December 26, and for the next seven days of Kwanzaa, BK Reader will feature a different local resident or organization that exemplifies one of each of the seven principles! Go here to read about UmojaKujichaguliaUjima, Ujamaa and Nia.

Nigel Roberts

Nigel Roberts is a New York-based, award-winning freelance journalist. During his career, Nigel has written for several newspapers and magazines. He has extensive experience covering politics and was a...

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