Teresa R. Kemp of McCormick organized a community-wide Kwanzaa celebration Wednesday evening at the former train depot on South Main Street. The observance moved to the McCormick County Library.

Kemp, 59, said she wanted it to be a "cross-cultural community celebration."

Kemp is the face of the S.C. Wild's Heritage Center Museum, housed in a former train depot at 201 S. Main St., that also serves as the current home of Plantation Quilts and Underground Railroad Secret Quilt Code Collections. Kemp has been with the museum for nine months.

"The principles of Kwanzaa are not just black-only," Kemp said, noting her own family ancestry is diverse. "I wanted to have an event to bring everyone together in a positive way, to learn about each other. We did learn about each other and there was an interesting dialogue between people."

Kemp was born in West Germany and has authored books. She is also a fifth-generation quilter.

Kemp first learned of Kwanzaa while a student at Ohio State University in 1974. Kemp later transferred to West Virginia State University.

Created in 1966, Kwanzaa was started by Maulana Ron Karenga, a professor of black studies at California State University -- Long Beach as a way to bring blacks together, following riots in Los Angeles, California.

It is a seven-day celebration observed Dec. 26 through Jan. 1 and it is not religious. However, Kwanzaa celebrates seven principles: unity, self-determination, working together, building, purpose, creativity and faith.

On each night of Kwanzaa, families have ceremonies and light a candle for the day. A new candle is lighted each night. Seven candles stand for the seven principles of Kwanzaa and a guide for daily living.

Kwanzaa's name is derived from the phrase for "first fruits" in Swahili. Observances often include song and dance, African drums, story-telling and a traditional meal.

The spirit of togetherness is one of the key reasons Kemp said she decided to organize McCormick's event.

Savannah Lakes Village resident and artist Diana Shore Joslin is among people who attended the celebration.

"There was music and singing and some people were in costume," Shore Joslin said. "People were amazing. I was very intrigued. It was very cool. I'm always very curious and I love Teresa Kemp. She comes into this sleepy little town and is a shining light."

Much of what Kwanzaa is about is community, Shore Joslin said, noting some customs associated with it reminded her of major religions even though Kwanzaa is not religious.

McCormick native Jai Jones, a professional vocalist, local radio personality and Georgia casting company executive also attended. Jones said she previously attended Kwanzaa celebrations in the Atlanta area where she lives and she was pleased to be a part of one in McCormick, where she also serves on the board of the McCormick Arts Council at the Keturah.

"The way Teresa (Kemp) did the program was very meaningful and it helped you learn the meanings of the different words for Kwanzaa principles," Jones said. "It's all about unity, supporting one another and moving forward."

Jones said a discussion emerged during the ceremony about the seven principles.

"We could have used more time to go more in depth on all of that," Jones said.