President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama in Hawaii 
Kent Nishimura/Pool/Getty Images

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama kicked off the first day of Kwanzaa Thursday by extending best wishes to everyone celebrating the weeklong holiday.

“As families and communities across our country come together today to light the Kinara, our family sends our hopes for a prosperous and healthy new year,” President Obama said in a statement released by the White House.


Thursday marked the beginning of the weeklong celebration of African-American culture through family activities and community festivities that call attention to Kwanzaa's seven principles of unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

“Though each principle represents the essence of this holiday, they also represent the shared values that bind us as Americans,” Obama said in the statement.

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