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Black Santa navigated pandemic challenges to still visit with northwest families

The Northwest African American Museum arranged virtual visits between Black Santa and kids eager to meet him.

SEATTLE — Before Santa disembarked on his big Christmas Eve adventure, he hopped on zoom with kids around the northwest who were excited to speak with a familiar face. 

Every year, The Northwest African American Museum gives families an opportunity to meet Black Santa and tell him what they're hoping to see under the tree. 

This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NAAM had to move the meetings online, but that didn't lessen the excitement for the children who spoke to him online. 

"It really helps to bolster a child's self-esteem and sense of self and sense of who they can be, and their sense of self-love when they see cultural representations of themselves in all walks of life, including Black Santa," said NAAM President and CEO LaNesha Debardelaben. 

Debardelaben said NAAM cherishes the opportunity to bring Black Santa to the community and help build up Black children's self-esteem by showing them an authentic representation of what an African American Santa looks like, especially in the midst of a year that was so hard on so many. 

“The past year has been very hard for families. So much loss and uncertainty, especially for kids,” she said. 

NAAM's Black Santa celebration was wildly popular this year. Families across the region spoke to Saint Nick right from their living rooms. Kids sang with Santa, showed him their ornaments and told him all about their Christmas wish lists. 

"It was a joy to see the children right next to the Christmas tree that they decorated," Debardelaben said. 

The Northwest African American Museum is dedicated to spreading knowledge, understanding, and enjoyment of the histories, arts, and cultures of people of African descent for the enrichment of all. 

The Northwest African American Museum isn’t done celebrating the season just yet. Next up is their annual Kwanza celebration on December 30th. Performances from local spoken words artists, dancers and more will be streamed virtually and you can reserve free tickets to join on NAAM's website.

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