Melyssa Barrett: Welcome to The Jali podcast. I’m host Melyssa Barrett. This podcast is for those who are interested in the conversation around diversity, inclusion, and equity. Each week, I’ll be interviewing a guest who has something special to share, or is actively part of building solutions in this space. Let’s get started.
This week, I had the pleasure to interview some friends that have been practicing Kwanzaa for 22 years. They were the original friends that came to our house for our very first Kwanzaa, and since then have been practicing Kwanzaa ever since. Many of you may have seen over the last week or so that I released a variety of videos regarding Kwanzaa, as well as the live Kwanzaa event that took place on January 1st of 2022. And I just wanted to make sure that people had the opportunity to see what Kwanzaa is like. I don’t think anybody’s Kwanzaa is the same.
It’s a creative process. People do lots of different things when they are celebrating Kwanzaa, but I at least wanted to show you an example of mine. So this week, I figured I would interview some of the folks that I had with me. They are my very good friends and they have stood the test of time, but I am pleased to say we have a good time. They still participate.
You’ll note, Chris Brinkley did the reverence for the creator and creation at this last Kwanzaa event. And James Daily actually did the final prayer. So if you’re looking to see Chris Brinkley and James Daily, they were there at this last one. So let me just introduce you to the folks that I have in the room. Chris Brinkley, who is a systems administrator. James Daily, who works in transportation. Patricia Daily works with a consulting firm, Cynthia Mundy, who is in payment technology, Peter McConico or Ronald McConico I should say. We call him Peter. He is a retired law enforcement professional, and of course myself.
So you will just hear us talking about the first Kwanzaa we had, and I just figured I’d let you guys in on some of the conversation as we reminisce, not only about the first Kwanzaa as we started it, because I think a lot of times we’re looking for ways to get started. So you’ll hear a little bit about how we got started and then we just spent some time talking about the experiences. And you will also hear them bringing up Peter Barrett, who is, was my husband, who really kind of initiated a lot of the discussions on creating Kwanzaa.
So anyway, I figured I would give you guys front row seat to just kind of hear about Kwanzaa, how we started, and some of the things that go through people’s minds as you start new things. So here’s to a phenomenal year and I am hoping that you will spend it again on Kwanzaa every day. Kwanzaa is all about reflection, and recommitment, and obviously the principles associated with Kwanzaa include unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Join me in listening to this conversation.
All right. So this is the crew from the first Kwanzaa we ever had, and some of my closest friends, for sure. I just figured it’d be great to just talk a little bit about this new experience. You know, some people know what Kwanzaa is, some people don’t and since we’re going into another Kwanzaa season, I figured I would just ask you all what the experience has been like and what you felt about it when I’m sure my husband Peter called you and said something about coming to Kwanzaa.
James Daily: Well, let me tell, let me share something with you guys. I don’t know if I even shared this with my wife, but when I start to remember the first time he called and talked about that, I didn’t want to go. Because he used to always talk about, he was in that season that he talked about so much of his family history, the geology, he was building all this stuff up, and I just think it was going to be kind of the same thing. He was going to actually talk to us about his family tree.
Anyway, but I remember though this coming together that first time, when our children were small. And then when he got going, I found myself very tuned in to what he was presenting at that time, and even at that first time started to learn more about some things that I didn’t have no idea or didn’t have much knowledge of before. And I, and from that point on is for me, is it got more and more interesting, because I seen the passion that he had to want to keep something going and keep us all in tune, to inspire us to, first of all, look in our background, look our history, and somehow connect all that together. That’s what I found pretty interesting as I’m starting to remember some things back almost what, 20 years ago?
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. About 22 years ago now. Yeah. Awesome. Anybody else?
Chirs Brinkley: I was always open minded about Kwanzaa. I remember Pete was advocating to have something at his house and you know, I was curious. I was curious. We heard about this an African American I don’t want to say a holiday, because it was not just one day, but a series of days. And Pete was such a wealth of information. He’s really a historian in disguise and he was, I think, before I even started Kwanzaa, I was asking him questions about the principles and the libation. I think he had an element for the kids in there. The children would have books or something like that.
And it was just a very fascinating thing in just having these conversations with Pete, because he was the Jali before he was the Jali, you know? Because he kind of evolved over time and became the Jali. Right. So, but yeah, it was very informative, and wasn’t sure if there was going to be like a religious element in there, and so it was very curious about Kwanzaa just in general. And so I think we’ve been doing it all these years and trying to reminisce on the first one is heartwarming.
Melyssa Barrett: That’s awesome. Who’s next?
Ronald “Peter” McConico: Well, we started with our family, so I knew what it was about, but it was more so Pete’s passion for me. So when he asked, of course. I mean, I’ve spent nights up with Pete sitting on that couch and going to sleep in the room, near the door. So we’ve talked a lot about it. I was always interested in it and it was a pleasure, and it was really nice for him to include me in it, to be a part of it. So I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed it every time I came down there, I got to meet new people. And of course, speaking with Pete, walking around, speaking with him throughout the day. You know, just the history that he would give.
And as James was saying, he would speak about his history, his family tree. But even when he talked about that, it was informative for me. It made me want to know more about my past and where I was from and how I evolved to where our family is now. So very interesting.
Melyssa Barrett: Awesome. I know Pat is around somewhere.
Patricia Daily: Well, for me it was exciting because I had heard about Kwanzaa from Cynthia, but I had never been to a Kwanzaa event, and didn’t really know what would take part, would take place at that event. So I did a little research. I remember doing a little research about Kwanzaa just to get a better understanding of what Kwanzaa was about and the principles. And when we actually came to your house, and we had the first one, it was exciting because we were part of something new.
For most of us, it was something new and something that I had never experienced before. And also just listening to the stories. He was one of the best storytellers.
Ronald “Peter” McConico: Yes.
Patricia Daily: And it captured your attention. It’s like, “Okay, you know, is it over already?” You would think there has to be something more to this story, but he was just an excellent storyteller, and it captured your attention, and it left you wanting for more, wanting to learn about more. It was good just to see it evolve. I forget how many of us was at the first one? Was it 10 of us?
Melyssa Barrett: This is it. This is it.
Ronald “Peter” McConico: Yeah.
Melyssa Barrett: All of you and your kids. That was it.
Patricia Daily: That’s right. That was it. I can’t remember if we went out and bought the kids little outfits for the occasion. The patterns and outfits, but yeah, it was a humbling experience because it also made me want to learn more about our history, and he had a great way of, like I said, telling stories, but making you feel like, “Okay, you know what? We are royalty. We are a very educated and people. We come from greatness,” and that’s one thing that I really appreciate about his history lessons. Because he always had a history lesson, even when you didn’t want to hear it, he was telling you about your history. So much history.
Melyssa Barrett: Yes, indeed.
Patricia Daily: Yeah. But it was very educating, educational and it was, I really appreciate it. When you look back on it, you really appreciate what he was instilling and pouring into us.
Melyssa Barrett: Yes, indeed. And I know Cynthia was the one who really had brought us to her Aunt Evelyn’s Kwanzaa the year before, which was an experience for us because we were trying to figure out how to celebrate. Like what was this supposed to look like? And I think for Peter and I, it was so inspiring to see what she had created in her home. And not that we were trying to replicate it per se, but it was a real encouragement to us for her to not only create it, but give us kind of a guidebook in terms of how to do it. And Cynthia was like, “Hey, you know what, let’s just do it.” So I just always appreciated Cynthia just reaching out and saying, “Well, if you guys want to know how to do it, come to this one.”
So I don’t know, Cynthia, if you have kind of a view of a couple of them, having gone to your aunt’s as well and seeing her legacy.
Cynthia Mundy: Yeah.
Melyssa Barrett: What was it like for you?
Cynthia Mundy: You know, I’m not a big crowd person, although going to church, you would think I would be used to crowds, but I’m really not.
Melyssa Barrett: And a singer and [inaudible]
Cynthia Mundy: Yeah. Well, and that’s how I started going. She, I think, I don’t know if it was her very first one or not, I don’t recall, but she did ask me to sing and I think Denzel was, I don’t even know if he was one. He may have been one, because one made him a little fit, a little Quinte outfit, but I had to sing there. And I was like, all these people in this small space but it was, I found it going there to be educational, just learning about Kwanzaa, the different parts of it and meeting new people. And it was really a community affair, because people that she knew in the community, she was involved in the NAACP and some other committees and stuff, 100 Black Women, and all these people would come to her house for this Kwanzaa, and it didn’t bother anybody that it was 200 people in this house and you didn’t have anywhere to sit or anything.
But I tried to take a look back on the moment and see how it was educational, and it’s just teaching me that we need to come together as a community more often. And how, if we all came together and actually practiced the principles that we learned through Kwanzaa, we could be of the better people together. But, as we moved on and started the ones at your house, I felt a little more uncomfortable because it was just a few of us, and excited because our kids, all our kids participated in doing the principles and in some kind of way, we all had a part in the program. I’m looking at one, a couple of them now. And I was like, “Man, that was so, so long ago.”
But I think when it came to Pete, he did have that passion for history, so that just took it to another level, and of course, always educating about knowing where you’re from. You should want to know where you’re from. So, and then of course it grew bigger. I was like, “Ooh, it’s a lot of people here.”
Melyssa Barrett: Yes.
Cynthia Mundy: But always something new, just even the activities that went on during the Kwanzaa, the storytelling, the poetry, the drummers, the dancing, those were things, some of those things were not at my aunt’s, but it’s like it just took what she had and kind of grew from there. So I’m happy to see that what she started, continued on with you guys in your home.
So it’s just good times when I think about the Kwanzaa celebrations, especially when we started with our small group, and now all the kids are grown. They didn’t get to participate at all the Kwanzaa, but it was good to get them started. It’s just a good family gathering, community gathering event, and the time for everyone to learn from one another, anyway.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. No, I think that it’s interesting that you say that because I think for us, Peter and I were kind of, I’ll just say, a little sick of the commercialization around Christmas, and really wanted to figure out how to pull in that heritage that I think certainly most people yearn for. And so the ability to kind of connect with the first fruit celebrations, and the ingathering of the people, and really to kind of reaffirm and reinforce that family, community, and culture was pretty cool. Especially knowing, because I think we were years later trying to figure out if our kids even understood anything about what was being said. And then all of a sudden, there was this just true acknowledgement about their own heritage, which was really kind of amazing to see blossom. So I don’t know what it was like for your kids.
Patricia Daily: They were there for the food and to play with their friends. I mean, that’s all. They just wanted to play with their friends. They would eat the food, all the different foods.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. Well that feast is a feast, for sure.
Patricia Daily: Right?
Cynthia Mundy: It is a feast.
Patricia Daily: Yeah.
Cynthia Mundy: I would say the same as Patricia’s, they were definitely there for the food and their friends at that age. I don’t think they really understood, maybe later on in life, but I know for mine, for Denzel, he hadn’t participated later, in his teenage years or anything, but he’s certainly aware of Kwanzaa from going, but yeah. Food and friends, the gathering.
Melyssa Barrett: So coming back now. Oh, did you have something you wanted to say, James?
James Daily: Well, I was just thinking when you said that food and friends, that was probably some of us too, the adults. Because I think one thing that happens that you realize, that I just started to realize, going there every year, year after year, it’s not just meeting the people, but also you start hearing about when you in conversation their stories a little bit. About how some people open up about their lives and what it meant to them because, well, the food’s a big part of it but I remember just talking to him sometimes. When he’d start preparing his gumbo and stuff, he makes two different pots, making gumbo and stuff, and he did not want just, you know. He tried to make sure that everybody had some kind of understanding before just jumping to the food and everything.
And I think though that for me each year that I went there, I took away something to challenge myself with. To be better, because Pete would always, I tell you one thing about Pete. He would, you know, he remembers everything. I mean, that’s the only cat I know he can remember things when he was five years old. I don’t know how, but he would be able to share something and challenge you with if you talk about something that you didn’t want to do it, and he’ll put it on you to try and encourage you to keep on.
Hey, his commitment to this was amazing. I think Chris mentioned something about the little bit of connection between that and the religious as far as our spiritual lives, but some of those things are the principles to have our own spiritual life, the commitment that it takes. The longevity, stuff that at times we, we can take for granted, but he was real good at that and just by his life, his lifestyle. So I was just thinking, I said, yes, more than fun. What else I got from that besides good food.
Ronald “Peter” McConico: Yeah. He did exemplify that though. All of those things that we did there. He didn’t just, we didn’t just go there to talk about them. He exemplified them in his life. So I agree with that, James. He did challenge a lot and he would remember and ask you later if you did it or call you, have you done it?
James Daily: Yes.
Ronald “Peter” McConico: So I agree with that 100. And the thing was to me is that he exemplified those qualities in his life, you know?
Chirs Brinkley: Hey, first of all, Melyssa, I just want to say, thank you for least putting this together because we talk about legacy, this really was Peter’s passion project. And this was something that the kids have would not have had an opportunity to see something that was unapologetically Black, and then also Afrocentric at the same time. And so we see the influence of hip hop, but this was always been family friendly and it’s always nice to see everybody come out in their African garb, and to share this tradition over the years.
You know, Cynthia was talking about Denzel being young. Well but you know, we look at how our kids have grown and have been introduced to something that potentially they can share with their kids if they so choose, right? But that’s really Pete’s hand and kind of introducing Kwanzaa to this group. I know Cynthia and Peter, or had previously had experience with it. For many of us, it was just a new thing. And it was nice to see have jambalaya and other cultural foods that were unique to the Black community.
And Cynthia mentioned the drums. Pete was not only a very eloquent individual and exceptionally bright, but the man was rich and talent. He was a musician and Kwanzaa was borderline entertainment, when you put the drums and the storytelling together. That was really his formula is we told the stories with the drums, and I’m not too sure how old Paul was at the time, but we see Paul in years and maybe he’s keeping that going with his family, and then the later years we see Kwanzaa in a box, and just all this innovation happening and it was a really cool.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah, it’s been a journey, that’s for sure. And he always wanted to keep it inside the house, because I used to say, “I mean, it’s like 150-200 people in the house. Maybe we should go to a community center.” And he was like, “Absolutely not.” It’s a different feel when it’s in a community center than when it’s in your house. So yeah.
Ronald “Peter” McConico: That’s true though. I think that’s true. I understand the crowd and all of that, but it’s true. It is a different feel. I just love the way he had seniors would sit down. They would sit at the table.
Melyssa Barrett: Yep.
Ronald “Peter” McConico: I respect, honor to them for us standing up for where we are now, standing on their shoulders. I really appreciated it, I enjoyed all that.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. That, I mean, and I think one of them most important components is he always made sure that we asked the elders for permission to start.
Chirs Brinkley: Yeah.
Ronald “Peter” McConico: Right.
Melyssa Barrett: And I think a lot of people just kind of skip over that part. But to me, it’s that one time where it is full respect, that this program will not go on without the elder’s permission. And then obviously if they’re sitting at the elder’s table or they in some cases will, we serve the elders, the kids serve the elders, and we try to make sure that we are thinking about all of them as we’re doing it.
Ronald “Peter” McConico: Right.
Melyssa Barrett: But I mean, even some of the elements in terms of like, Chris, I know you’ve done the libation a few times now. I remember one time, and you know, you have that symbolic sip, and I think you sent the cup around, and it took like an hour for it to come down.
Ronald “Peter” McConico: Yeah. That was an improv.
Melyssa Barrett: I was like, “Maybe next time we’ll do a symbolic sip.”
Ronald “Peter” McConico: Right, right, right, right.
Melyssa Barrett: But it’s kind of funny, because the different elements, you’re right, in terms of the entertainment. I think the entertainment gives you a reason for people to come and learn. Right? Because people want to, they don’t just want a history lesson. They want, make it interesting. Right? And I think there’s so many times where we don’t know our own history, and other people don’t know our history either, so it gives us an opportunity. And I always loved that Pete would invite everybody, no matter where they came from or who they were or whatever. Everybody is invited to come and join us for the celebration.
Ronald “Peter” McConico: Yeah.
Melyssa Barrett: So that’s been kind of cool. So, and one of the things that we were always trying to figure out is how to get more people to celebrate. Any suggestions y’all have?
Chirs Brinkley: You mean in your home or just in general?
Melyssa Barrett: Just in general. [crosstalk] You can always come to my house if you want us to. You can always come to my house.
Chirs Brinkley: Yeah. Your house is where the tradition is. I mean, yeah. Just starting it up in other areas. I didn’t thought much about it because yeah, we’re at your place. So, and it grew into a production after a while.
Melyssa Barrett: It is a production.
Cynthia Mundy: And I think just taking it from my aunt’s to your house, like I said, it’s grown and I think probably, and I know you have Kwanzaa in a box, is maybe it’s almost like you have to teach people how to have the Kwanzaa event at their home. Even like the whole thing that we do from the whole program, or even if it’s just to celebrate the day for a principle. But I think people need to probably be educated on the process and that you don’t have to have everything, but you know, just enough to make it sure people get the message about what Kwanzaa is about.
So I don’t know, and people, really, people need to be interested and have the desire to want to learn more, because without that, it’s probably not going to be very interesting to them. If they don’t have like this desire to learn more about their history or what Kwanzaa is really about.
Melyssa Barrett: I always tell people when we talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion, that curiosity is kind of number one. If you’re not curious, you’re not going to learn about any other culture or, you know?
Cynthia Mundy: Right. Yeah. So I think that’s my two cents is probably having to not like just the Kwanzaa in a box, but maybe taking a box and maybe a little video to go along with it. I don’t know, for them to understand all of the things that go into the day.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. And I think, I mean, and what’s interesting to me is we always went into Kwanzaa principles every day.
Cynthia Mundy: Right.
Melyssa Barrett: So if you’re talking about unity or self-determination or purpose or creativity, cooperative economics, there’s stuff you can do every day, so to me, if we have those principles in front of us, the one time of year that we may come together. Hopefully it’s not the only time of year, but it does give you this opportunity to see people that you haven’t seen in a long time. I am commune with them, fellowship with them, and then kind of recommit to what the principles are.
Cynthia Mundy: Right.
Melyssa Barrett: And I think that’s the intention is that I mean, this was created in 1966, amidst the civil rights movement. So to me, I cannot imagine. I mean, I just know my own rage when I see discrimination, people being sprayed with hoses and literally being like having someone sit on your neck. I mean, those types of things-
Ronald “Peter” McConico: Being hung.
Melyssa Barrett: Are enraging.
Ronald “Peter” McConico: Being hung.
Melyssa Barrett: Say it again.
Ronald “Peter” McConico: Being lynched.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah, and so it to me, what the principles do is kind of allow me to exhale and try to collect myself in a way that allows me to continue to strive for excellence, because I came from excellence. Does that make sense?
Ronald “Peter” McConico: Right. Yes, it does. And those principles, when you were speaking about how can we continue it on, for me, it’s like, we got to live it. It just doesn’t stop our begin on when we start Kwanzaa after Christmas, it doesn’t just start then. It’s a lifestyle.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah.
Ronald “Peter” McConico: It’s a lifestyle.
Melyssa Barrett: Well, and Pete would always talk about being a keeper of the culture, and especially amidst the pandemic like this, when we can’t necessarily get together as frequently, it becomes more important to really connect with each other, and tell those stories, and talk about what we’re experiencing. Let’s pause for a moment. We’ll be right back. (silence)
So aside from the food that you all seem to have enjoyed, are there other, are there principles that you all identify with maybe more than others?
Chirs Brinkley: Not necessarily a principle. I want to, I remember there was just, we always have this section where we remember the ashays somewhere in there, we’re doing ashays and it’s always good to remember.
Melyssa Barrett: Where we’re calling out the names of people that have gone on.
Chirs Brinkley: Right, the trailblazers, and those who have passed away, and the mothers and the fathers. We call Pete’s name out and ashay. These we cannot forget really the roots of who we are as a people. And yeah. Yeah. Because I knew it was a young holiday, but when you said 1966, I says, “Wow, there was a lot of activity going on in this country at that time.” And somewhere in there I forget the guy’s name of who founded Kwanzaa.
Melyssa Barrett: Maulana Karenga.
Chirs Brinkley: Yeah. You know, to have this idea that we really need to have a day or a week or something that we could call our own, because we really didn’t have that. You know, a lot of our culture was stripped from us. Our ancestors and really trying to develop something that would be more long lasting and kind of spend time, and it’s gotten wheels, no doubt about it, from then.
James Daily: I want to, thinking back something what just said, as far as that calling out the names at the end of this, I can tell you it’s very humbling because some names that sometimes people call out names that you forgot about. That you forgot about, and then you look at the person, sometimes I call out the name, man. Maybe I need to, I kind of forgot. Maybe I should just go over and say hello sometimes and spend some time with it. It was just a reminder of people because [inaudible] so much. And I found out part of, when they were doing that part was very… just remembering some things, some people that have touched your life.
Because we move on sometimes too quickly and not realize, man, this person is important. I haven’t visited this person or talked to him, or I know it, it just a feeling inside. Sometimes you just remember, if I wasn’t there to hear some of these names, I didn’t member these people and things. And I thought that was a very important part as, as well. And I, of course I love when they, one of the principles about the unity. I love that. I’ve always liked that only because I think of, that’s just the key. That we have to be as a culture and be more unified together, from families, from just things that I think is important. That when we have opportunity, don’t waste that time, because you don’t get that time back.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. There’s an African proverb that says, and I’ll remember it, but it’s something like as long as someone calls your name, you exist.
James Daily: Yeah.
Melyssa Barrett: Which to me, I’m not sure I even quite got that until after Peter passed away. And it was, it’s always, now it’s felt like for so long there was this gift that was being given to me.
Ronald “Peter” McConico: Yeah.
Melyssa Barrett: And I want to make sure people don’t forget who he was and the impacts that he had on people.
James Daily: Yeah.
Ronald “Peter” McConico: But I believe that I believe that’s even scriptural from our Christian background. You know, it’s infused in there because we still talk about Abraham. We still talk about Rayhab because they’re significant, they did something that was, that made them significant. And Pete did that for me. He did. He set a lot of examples, did a lot of things, that his name should be continually mentioned because the things that he did through this, through Kwanzaa, it’s just beautiful. I mean, he brought people together. I’ve met people that I didn’t even know, but each time I saw them at Kwanzaa, we spoke, we talked, and had great conversations, so he brought people together.
I mean, it’s just a beautiful thing. So I believe his name will continue to go on, with all of those that came through on these Kwanzaas, his time, his name will always continue. I believe that.
Chirs Brinkley: And I think Melyssa, we were talking the other day about just how cool Pete was. Pete, and certainly there was a huge void the Kwanzaa after. I think, was it, yeah. With him being gone, it was kind of, it felt different, but you know, that guy had some swagger about him. I mean, he had those, yeah.
Ronald “Peter” McConico: Yeah.
Chirs Brinkley: And the grandkids, they didn’t get a chance to really meet Pete and see just how cool of a guy he was, and we’re meeting today still feeling his impact and his influence. And so I digress from the principle question, I seem to be rattling off here. I’ll let somebody else talk.
Melyssa Barrett: The floor is open, y’all.
Patricia Daily: Well I was looking at the principals, the seven principals, and I was thinking about today, the pandemic, what’s going on in society right now. And I think that this is like the perfect time for those principles to be implemented, because as a culture, just the world, we really need to be able to come together right now. And we need that self-determination to come together and collectively work and be responsible. All of that needs to happen right now.
It’s just so interesting just to see how things just evolve. But like the Bible says, there’s nothing new under the sun. So this, Kwanzaa was started, you said 1966. During that time, and all the civil unrest of what’s going on there, during that time, and now look at us in 2021. It’s almost like, I won’t say dejavu, but you know, there’s a parallel, and these principles are just this is important as they were back in 1966.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. No doubt, Cynthia, any last words?
Cynthia Mundy: No, I pretty much echo what everyone else has said about the remembering the ancestors, how important that was. And I think other point I wanted to bring out about that part was how I felt like the people who attended really enjoyed that part as well, because they got to participate by calling out their own, because it would go on and on. And you had to stop it, but I did like that part as well. And like, I think I said it earlier about the principles, this is something if we could practice it, all of them, and really make it part of our every day that as a people, I think we will be able to come closer and be more supportive of one another in the things that we do. And if especially like people who are doing entrepreneurial things, we’ll be able to support one another in that, because we’ll be looking at the bigger picture, not just ourselves. Anyway.
Melyssa Barrett: Yes.
Chirs Brinkley: Did Pete have a favorite principles, Melyssa?
Melyssa Barrett: You know, he didn’t have a favorite principle because his focus was making sure that everybody practiced every principle every day. And so he would, I mean, I think we always enjoyed having a celebration on one day because we got to emphasize a particular principle that year. So, but I think the fact that his cousin after his last Kwanzaa put together the cutting board with all the principles on it, it’s like, literally I use the cutting board every day. I mean, like, you know.
Chirs Brinkley: In your face.
Melyssa Barrett: Yes, it’s in my face. I remember them all the time. So it becomes kind of a little more rote and you start going, “Oh, I need to act better. I need to be more self-determined,” or whatever. So I love the fact that you can really look at these principles, and they’re great principles for everyone, not just African Americans. But for me, it’s just a matter of wanting to keep it going and to highlight the principles and get people familiar with what Kwanzaa is.
Because I think for when we started, there were so many people that would in our history tell us we didn’t have a culture. We weren’t African, we weren’t American, and Kwanzaa at least gave us a celebration and a platform to really highlight some of our own culture to other people’s culture as well as our own people.
James Daily: Yeah.
Melyssa Barrett: Anyway, so on that note, I appreciate you guys so much for coming and having this.
James Daily: Oh, let’s talk about Pete’s swagger.
Melyssa Barrett: What about it?
James Daily: You know, I was just laughing. I said, when I start thinking back on something-
Ronald “Peter” McConico: That guy had [crosstalk].
James Daily: I don’t know because I knew Pete for a long time. Pete was a sharp dude.
Melyssa Barrett: He was a what?
James Daily: He was a sharp dude for a while. He used to hang around, Pete was always quiet. Didn’t talk. He disappears, you don’t know where he comes from.
Chirs Brinkley: He disappears.
James Daily: And he will tell you things that you forgot. He just, I told you he got that mind, just remember-
Chirs Brinkley: He got that mind.
James Daily: Like that. One of the things, when I’m just thinking back on some things as we were growing up and even throughout, Pete was, because we all like sports and stuff like that, and he would play, but seemed like he felt like he was always the odd man out. Getting basketball, he was the last man picked.
Melyssa Barrett: Sports were not his forte.
James Daily: No, with Pete, then what we do? The one thing that I do would say, he’s a good supporter. He would support you on things that you’ve done and you know, he shows up, if you got something going on, something like that. He would support you in every way that he knew how, like that. But I laugh at, I don’t know if you still got them all, but all those canes, we used to talk about them. All those canes. I said, “Man, the one thing I would tell a doctor if I hurt my ankle, I don’t a cane, I’m going to get one of the starring ones.”
Melyssa Barrett: Still have a lot of canes here, yes. Yes indeed.
James Daily: So much good times, I tell you. I tell you so much. Hey, people say Denzel Washington has a walk, but Pete had the coolest walk. He had the coolest walk.
Ronald “Peter” McConico: He had swagger, yeah.
James Daily: He had the coolest walk.
Melyssa Barrett: Oh my gosh, y’all are crazy.
James Daily: Yeah.
Chirs Brinkley: But he had a sense of humor and that he had a very hearty, healthy laugh, and the man was a Maverick. He was a rebel. I mean that that guy can, if he wanted to debate you, he’d debate you. If he wanted to say no for the sake of saying no, couldn’t make him do anything, if he decided his mind, we’re going to do it. Remember he was at Raycam, was acting a fool at Raycam. You know? So yeah, man, he’s a character.
Melyssa Barrett: Yes, he was a character. That’s for sure.
Patricia Daily: Well, thank you, Melyssa, for continuing on his legacy with the community Kwanzaa.
Ronald “Peter” McConico: Yes.
Patricia Daily: The beautiful thing.
Melyssa Barrett: Yes.
Patricia Daily: You are doing a wonderful job with this. I’m sure he is smiling down on you, because you have kept this going, and we all want to help you continue it.
Melyssa Barrett: Well, I appreciate it. I appreciate you guys. You always come to the table whenever I call. You all are always there. So I appreciate it. Even Peter.
Melyssa Barrett: Now look, even Peter. He shows up.
Chirs Brinkley: He shows up and goes. He just appears.
Ronald “Peter” McConico: With James, and James said, “Pete has disappeared.” So I figured I use one of those, I’ll disappear.
Melyssa Barrett: Right, first Peter, and second Peter.
Ronald “Peter” McConico: You know that-
Chirs Brinkley: I saw what you did there.
Ronald “Peter” McConico: That’s funny cause we used to say that to each other. He used to say, “I’m first Peter.” I’d say, “Okay, you first Peter. I’m second Peter.”
Melyssa Barrett: Oh no.
James Daily: He would let you know he’s first Peter.
Ronald “Peter” McConico: Yes. Yeah.
Melyssa Barrett: Oh my gosh. Y’all are crazy. Yeah.
Patricia Daily: Thank you so much, Melyssa. Love you.
Melyssa Barrett: Love you guys. Thank you guys so much.
James Daily: Yeah.
Ronald “Peter” McConico: Love you.
Melyssa Barrett: Looking forward to seeing you this year at Kwanzaa.
Cynthia Mundy: I’ll be there.
Melyssa Barrett: All right.
James Daily: Be there. Be there or be square.
Patricia Daily: All right.
Melyssa Barrett: All right, talk to you guys later.
Chirs Brinkley: Everybody take care. [crosstalk].
Melyssa Barrett: Thanks, bye bye.
Chirs Brinkley: Take care.
Melyssa Barrett: Thanks for joining me on the Jali podcast. Please subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. See you next week.