Detroit City Councilman Scott Benson partners with Alkebu-lan Village and Downtown Detroit Partnership to build world’s largest Kwanzaa Kinara in Campus Martius


Detroit City Councilman Scott Benson partners with Alkebu-lan Village and Downtown Detroit Partnership to build world’s largest Kwanzaa Kinara in Campus Martius 

  • The Motor City Kwanzaa Kinara is under construction now. A time-lapsed video is recording the build and will be available to view at the Kinara lighting site in Campus Martius December 26.

  • Donations and sponsorships being accepted to assist with construction and upkeep costs.

  • Kwanzaa, celebrated December 26 to January 1, honors the communities, culture and heritage of African Americans. 

  • The Kinara’s candles are solar-powered and designed to light each day until the full Kinara is lit.

  • A full program to announce the new Kinara, outline the principles of Kwanzaa and celebrate the lighting of Day 1 is planned for Dec. 26 at 5PM

Note: Interviews available before and during an upcoming press conference with: Councilman Scott Benson, Marvis Cofield and Gregory McKenzie of Alkebu-Lan Village, Erica Hill of Detroit’s Civil Rights, Inclusion & Opportunity Department, David Cowan and Eric Larson of the Downtown Detroit Partnership and other officials. Nearly one year ago, Councilman Scott Benson reached out to leaders to discuss what it would take to build a structure to honor the seven-day Kwanzaa celebration in Detroit. After many weeks of meeting and planning, construction of The Motor City Kwanzaa Kinara is underway and, once completed, will be the world’s tallest Kinara of its kind – reaching a formidable 30 feet in height. "Kwanzaa is about celebrating and reflecting on unity, community, collective work, and other principles," said Councilmember Scott Benson, who represents Detroit's Third District. "These principles bind us together and help us build a better tomorrow. Kwanzaa is a celebration that benefits us all. That is why I want Detroit to recognize Kwanzaa, reminding us that none of us can stand alone. We need one another." Campus Martius and the Motor City Kwanzaa Kinara In addition to being the point of origin for the city’s coordinate system, Campus Martius symbolizes the vitality of the city’s public sphere. Year-round festivities draw hundreds of thousands of Detroiters and visitors to this special place in the city’s center. The Kinara will reside (seasonally) in the SW Garden of Campus Martius, and will add a new monument for the celebration of Black life, community and culture to the park’s holiday landscape, alongside the Christmas tree and Menorah erected each year. “We’re expanding our recognition of the various holiday traditions in Campus Martius. The holidays are a joyful reminder that being together brings us closer as a community," said Eric B. Larson, DDP’s CEO. "Adding the Kinara to Downtown's celebration of the holidays will be an opportunity for more personal connections to what makes the holiday season so meaningful.” Supporting the Motor City Kwanzaa Kinara Those interested in making a tax-free donation to help build and manage the upkeep of this first of its kind, Kwanzaa Kinara, may go to: or request a sponsorship package via email at [email protected]. About the Motor City Kwanzaa Kinara Designed to be festive and durable, the Kinara will boast a fine black granite base topped with a hardwood candle holders displaying the word KWANZAA hand-carved in wood along with other cultural symbols. Seven red, black and green candles fashioned from utility poles will be topped by solar-powered light fixtures made to resemble glowing flames. Each candle will be illuminated on its appropriate day. The kinara is also designed to break down into 23 pieces for ease of assembly and storage. “The Motor City Kwanzaa Kinara is an embodiment of the principles of Kwanzaa – the unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, commitment to purpose and creativity it took to organize this effort has been a display of extraordinary faith,” said Gregory McKenzie, Project Manager. Engineering & Architecture A team of professional architects, engineers and electricians have developed a design that features a durable framed wall structure counterweighted by two tons of metal plates to ensure the sculpture can withstand the high Detroit River and skyscraper-induced wind loads at Campus Martius. The design and construction of the Motor City Kwanzaa Kinara has been carried out in coalition with Black architects, engineers, carpenters and contractors from the local Detroit community. Of notable mention are Develop Architecture and JMS Engineering Services, both of which are Detroit-based firms. "Each one teach one is what the Motor City Kwanzaa Kinara is all about; from grassroots to global," said Marvis Cofield, CEO and Founder of Alkebu-lan Village.

With support from the City of Detroit Civil Rights, Inclusion & Opportunity Department, on December 26 at 5 pm, the Motor City Kwanzaa Kinara will be officially introduced to the public in a small ceremony. "Detroit is a city that embraces its rich diversity. We are thrilled that this year we will have on display the world's largest Kinara, which will join the world's largest Menorah and our state's largest Christmas tree, as people of all backgrounds come downtown to celebrate their faith and culture this holiday season," said Mayor Mike Duggan. "Displaying this 30-foot Kinara at Campus Martius is a perfect way to demonstrate our city's pride in African-American culture and the seven principles of Kwanzaa."

About the Kwanzaa Holiday Kwanzaa is a celebration held from December 26 through January 1 to honor Black culture and heritage. Maulana Karenga established the holiday in 1966 and hoped to reconnect family, history, community and heritage through seven principles, which include unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. A feast is shared on the final day of Kwanzaa, and gifts are exchanged at this time. During the seven-day Kwanzaa holiday, each day has significance and is partnered with a dedicated principle known as the Nguzo Saba:

Day 1 Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.

Day 2 Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

Day 3 Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together.

Day 4 Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Day 5 Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Day 6 Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

Day 7 Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Coming Soon! Watch for more announcements about the Motor City Kwanzaa Kinara Lighting Program, the Kinara build-site press conference and more information about the principles of Kwanzaa.

Visit for information about the Motor City Kwanzaa Kinara. For more details about this project and upcoming events, contact Gregory McKenzie at (313) 578-1300 or email at [email protected].


Rendering of The Motor City Kwanzaa Kinara