Maulana Karenga

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Maulana Karenga

Karenga, center, with wife Tiamoyo (wearing glasses) celebrating Kwanzaa at the Rochester Institute of Technology on December 12, 2003
BornRonald McKinley Everett
(1941-07-14) July 14, 1941 (age 71)
Parsonsburg, Maryland
OccupationProfessor
Philosopher
Author
Scholar[1]
Spouse(s)Brenda Lorraine "Haiba" Karenga (Divorced)
Tiamoyo Karenga (1970-present)
Website
http://www.maulanakarenga.org/
 
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Maulana Karenga

Karenga, center, with wife Tiamoyo (wearing glasses) celebrating Kwanzaa at the Rochester Institute of Technology on December 12, 2003
BornRonald McKinley Everett
(1941-07-14) July 14, 1941 (age 71)
Parsonsburg, Maryland
OccupationProfessor
Philosopher
Author
Scholar[1]
Spouse(s)Brenda Lorraine "Haiba" Karenga (Divorced)
Tiamoyo Karenga (1970-present)
Website
http://www.maulanakarenga.org/

Maulana Karenga (born Ronald McKinley Everett[2][3][4] on July 14, 1941) is an African-American professor of Africana Studies, activist and author, best known as the creator of the pan-African and African-American holiday of Kwanzaa. Karenga was a major figure in the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s and co-founded with Hakim Jamal the black nationalist and social change organization US which means "Us Black people".[5]

Contents

Background and education

Ron Everett was born on a farm in Parsonsburg, Maryland, the fourteenth child and seventh son. He moved to California in the late 1950s to attend UCLA, but attended Los Angeles City College (LACC) to establish residence. There, he became the first African-American president of the student body. After graduation from LACC, he went to University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where he received his B.A. and M.A. in political science with a specialization in African studies. (Maulana Karenga, Los Angeles: UCLA Center for African American Studies, Oral History Program, 2002)

He was awarded his first Ph.D. in 1976 from United States International University (now known as Alliant International University) for a 170-page dissertation entitled Afro-American Nationalism: Social Strategy and Struggle for Community. Later in his career, in 1994, he was awarded a second Ph.D., in social ethics, from the University of Southern California (USC), for an 803-page dissertation entitled "Maat, the moral ideal in ancient Egypt: A study in classical African ethics."

Career

Dr. Karenga is the Chair of the Africana Studies Department at California State University, Long Beach. He is the director of the Kawaida Institute for Pan African Studies and the author of several books, including his "Introduction to Black Studies", a comprehensive Black/African Studies textbook now in its fourth edition.

Karenga founded the Organization Us, a cultural black nationalist group, in 1965. He is also known for having co-hosted, in 1984, a conference that gave rise to the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations, and in 1995, he sat on the organizing committee and authored the mission statement of the Million Man March.

Influences of Malcolm X

Karenga was influenced in the creation of his ethos for US by Malcolm X.

"Malcolm was the major African American thinker that influenced me in terms of nationalism and Pan-Africanism. As you know, towards the end, when Malcolm is expanding his concept of Islam, and of nationalism, he stresses Pan-Africanism in a particular way. And he argues that, and this is where we have the whole idea that cultural revolution and the need for revolution, he argues that we need a cultural revolution, he argues that we must return to Africa culturally and spiritually, even if we can’t go physically. And so that’s a tremendous impact on US. And US saw it, when I founded it, as the sons and daughters of Malcolm, and as an heir to his legacy." —Maulana Karenga[6]

Us and COINTELPRO

During the 1960s, Us became a target of the FBI COINTELPRO and was put on a series of lists describing it as dangerous, revolutionary and committed to armed struggle in the Black Power Movement.[7] Us developed a youth component with para-military aspects called the Simba Wachanga which advocated and practiced community self-defense and service to the masses.

US engaged in violent competition with the Black Panthers in their claim to be a revolutionary vanguard. The FBI, through its COINTELPRO program, attempted to aggravate the conflict. Tactics used to foment and aggravate conflict between Us and the Panthers included poison-pen letters, defamatory cartoons, agents provocateurs, and creating suspicion of members of each organization as agents.[8]

This heightened level of conflict eventually led to a shoot-out at UCLA in 1969 in which two Panthers were killed and a Simba was shot in the back. Following the UCLA shootout, Panthers and US members carried out a series of retaliatory shootings that resulted in at least two more murders.[9]

Conviction for assault

In 1971, Karenga "was sentenced to one to ten years in prison on counts of felonious assault and false imprisonment".[10] One of the victims gave testimony of how Karenga and other men tortured her and another woman. The woman claimed to have been stripped and beaten with an electrical cord. Karenga's former wife, Brenda Lorraine Karenga, testified that he sat on the other woman’s stomach while another man forced water into her mouth through a hose.

A May 14, 1971, article in the Los Angeles Times described the testimony of one of the women:

"Deborah Jones, who once was given the Swahili title of an African queen, said she and Gail Davis were whipped with an electrical cord and beaten with a karate baton after being ordered to remove their clothes. She testified that a hot soldering iron was placed in Miss Davis' mouth and placed against Miss Davis' face and that one of her own big toes was tightened in a vise. Karenga, head of US, also put detergent and running hoses in their mouths, she said. They also were hit on the heads with toasters."

Karenga explained his actions by saying that one of the women he had tortured had attempted to assassinate him, but he had no evidence.[10][11][12]

Karenga argues that his imprisonment was political.[13] Some scholars have raised similar questions.[14][15]

He was imprisoned at the California Men's Colony, where he studied and wrote on feminism, Pan-Africanism and other subjects. The Us organization fell into disarray during his absence and was disbanded in 1974. After he petitioned several black state officials to support his parole on fair sentencing grounds, it was granted in 1975.[16]

Kawaida, the Nguzo Saba, and Kwanzaa

After his parole Karenga re-established the Us organization under a new structure. One year later, he was awarded his first doctorate. In 1977, he formulated a set of principles called Kawaida, a Swahili term for normal. Karenga called on African Americans to adopt his secular humanism and reject other practices as mythical (Karenga 1977, pp. 14, 23, 24, 27, 44–5).

Central to Karenga's doctrine are the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles of Blackness, which are reinforced during the seven days of Kwanzaa:

In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Maulana Karenga on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.[17]

Films

Published works

Further information

References

  1. ^ Maulana Karenga: An Intellectual Portrait
  2. ^ De Leon, David (1994). Leaders from the 1960s: A Biographical Sourcebook of American Activism (1st ed.). p. 390. ISBN 978-0313274145. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=D413ig1BCw8C&pg=PA390#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 2012-05-13.
  3. ^ Chapman, Roger, ed. (2010). Culture Wars: An Encyclopedia of Issues, Viewpoints, and Voices (Encyclopedia). p. 308. ISBN 978-0765617613. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=vRY27FkGJAUC&pg=PA308&lpg=PA308. Retrieved 2012-05-13. "The seven-day holiday Kwanzaa ... was originated by Ron "Maulana" Karenga (born Ronald McKinley Everett)"
  4. ^ Meyes, Keith A. (2009). Kwanzaa: Black Power and the Making of the African-American Holiday Tradition. p. 308. ISBN 978-0415998550. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Vhgk72OGBRYC&pg=PA52#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 2012-05-13. "Ronald McKinley Everett was born in 1941. Maulana Kerenga was born sometimes in 1963"
  5. ^ Hayes, III, Floyd W.; Jeffries, Judson L., "Us Does Not Stand for United Slaves!", Black Power in the Belly of the Beast (Chicago: University of Illinois Press): 74–5
  6. ^ "Maulana Karenga Malcolm X". "The History Makers". http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/biography.asp?bioindex=378&category=educationMakers.
  7. ^ "COINTELPRO -- Black Nationalist Hate Groups (1967-1971)". FBI COINTELPRO Documents. http://www.icdc.com/~paulwolf/cointelpro/blacknationalist.htm. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  8. ^ "INTELLIGENCE ACTIVITIES AND THE RIGHTS OF AMERICANS". FINAL REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE TO STUDY GOVERNMENTAL OPERATIONS WITH RESPECT TO INTELLIGENCE ACTIVITIES UNITED STATES SENATE. US Senate. http://www.icdc.com/~paulwolf/cointelpro/churchfinalreportIIcd.htm. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  9. ^ Brown, Elaine. A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story. (New York: Doubleday, 1992) p.184
  10. ^ a b Scholer, J. Lawrence (January 15, 2001). "The Story of Kwanzaa". The Dartmouth Review. http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45a/767.html.
  11. ^ Swanson, Perry (November 22, 2006). "Backers say past of founder doesn’t diminish Kwanzaa". The Gazette (Colorado Springs). http://www.gazette.com/articles/karenga-19049-kwanzaa-times.html.
  12. ^ "Karenga Tortured Women Followers, Wife Tells Court". Los Angeles Times: 3. May 13, 1971. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/698873952.html?FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:AI&type=historic&date=May+13%2C+1971&author=&pub=Los+Angeles+Times+%281923-Current+File%29&edition=&startpage=3&desc=Karenga+Tortured+Women+Followers%2C+Wife+Tells+Court.
  13. ^ Asante, Molefi Kete (2009), pp. 10-14. Maulana Karenga: An Intellectual Portrait. Cambridge, UK. Polity Press. ISBN 978-0-7456-4827-9.
  14. ^ Halisi, Clyde (1972), Maulana Ron Karenga: Black Leader in Captivity. Black Scholar, May, pp. 27-31.
  15. ^ Woodard, Komozi (1999), p. 166, A Nation Within A Nation: Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones)& Black Power Politics. Chapel Hill, North Carolina. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-4761-9
  16. ^ ""Whatever happened to... Ron Karenga". Ebony 30 (11): 170. September 1975.
  17. ^ Asante, Molefi Kete (2002). 100 Greatest African Americans: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Amherst, New York. Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-57392-963-8.

External links