(This article is part of a series exploring and applying the seven principles of Kwanzaa.)

The sixth day of Kwanzaa is Kuumba (koo–OOM–bah), which means Creativity. To do all we can to continuously improve our families and communities. To leave our world a better place to live, work, and love.

The Kuumba principle demands continuous improvement on a personal level, building and developing our creative potential. It pushes us not to be satisfied with “just getting by,” with being average or even above average. It is through new ideas that we achieve higher levels of living and a greater appreciation for life.

George Washington Carver, acclaimed scientist, teaches us all that:

“No one has a right to come in to the world without leaving behind
a distinct and legitimate reason for having passed through it.”

Wow! I love that quote. Kuumba instructs that we should never be satisfied with where we are at or what we have achieved.

The article that I pulled this information from lists the significant creativity and contributions of blacks in the field of science. The list is impressive and often a missing chapter in America’s record of advancement.

From the beginning, African Americans were part of America’s scientific endeavors: Benjamin Banneker produced the blueprint for Washington DC; Norbert Rillieau, chemical engineer, revolutionized the sugar industry by building a refining system; Elijah McCoy whose name became synonymous with high-quality (The Real McCoy) patented more than fifty inventions used by the railroad companies; Grandville T. Woods, invented the trolley car system and helped invent the light bulb, telegraph and telephone systems; Lewis Latimer produced the drawing for the telephone and wrote the world’s first book on electric lighting; Jan Matzeliger, revolutionized the shoe industry with the invention of the shoe lasting machine, and Garrett Morgan invented the gas mask and traffic signal. The conditions under which blacks created and invented helps to better appreciate their contributions.

These inventors remind me of author Mary Lou Cook’s definition, “Creativity is inventing, experimenting… taking risks.” Reading their names gives me a sense of pride and encourages my heart!

Research shows that it is the heart that motivates us, engages others, and determines what we do in life. The heart, not the mind, inspires our greatest achievements. The heart is the source of infinite imagination and creativity, allowing us to lead, to serve, and to connect with others in incredible ways. Tune into your heart, the melody that is uniquely yours, and you will rise to the level of your highest creative possibility. In the words of Marianne Williamson:

“You’re on this earth with a divine purpose: to rise to the level of your
highest creative possibility, expressing all that you are intellectually, emotionally,
psychologically, and physically in order to make the universe a more beautiful place.”

What have you done and what will you do this year to improve yourself? How will you practice this Kwanzaa value to help you attain your highest potential? Declare your intention in the comments below.

Learn more about the principles of Kwanzaa and how we practice them in One Degree Shift.