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Obama Sends 'Warmest Thoughts' for Kwanzaa

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"some of the very values that make us Americans"

The Tonel LaKay Drum and Dance ensemble, honoring the cultural heritage of Haiti, performs during the annual Kwanzaaa celebration at the Museum of Natural History, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2004, in New York. Kwanza, a celebration of family, community and culture, was established in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga to reaffirm a common identity, purpose and direction for African-American people and the world African community. (AP Photo/Jennifer Szymaszek)

President and Michelle Obama sent their Christmas wishes on Saturday. On Sunday, they made sure to send similar wishes for Kwanzaa.

"Michelle and I extend our warmest thoughts and wishes to all those who are celebrating Kwanzaa this holiday season. Today [Dec. 26] is the first of a joyful seven-day celebration of African American culture and heritage," the couple said in a statement.

The pair went on to say that the spirit of Kwanzaa embodies the values of Americans: "The seven principles of Kwanzaa -- unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith -- are some of the very values that make us Americans."

The Obamas issued a similar statement last year marking the African-American holiday. "Michelle and I know the challenges facing many African American families and families in all communities at this time, but we also know the spirit of perseverance and hope that is ever present in the community," the president said last year.

The celebration, which began in 1966, is a week long and culminates with a feast and gift-giving.

This story has been updated.

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