Dr. Maulana Karenga

Dr. Maulana Karenga
Professor & Chair, Department of Black Studies California State University, Long Beach
Creator of Kwanzaa

Dr. Maulana Karenga is professor and chair of the Department of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach. He is also chair of the President’s Task Force on Multicultural Education and Campus Diversity at California State University, Long Beach. Dr. Karenga holds two Ph.D.’s: his first in political science with focus on the theory and practice of nationalism (United States International University) and his second in ethics with a focus on the classical African ethics and ancient Egypt (University of Southern California).

He is also the director of the Kawaida Institute of Pan-African Studies, Los Angeles, and national chairman of the Organization Us, a cultural and social change organization. The Organization Us, which simply means us Black people, is so named to stress the communitarian focus of the organization and its philosophy, Kawaida, which is an ongoing synthesis of the best of African thought and practice in constant exchange with the world. Dr. Karenga and Us have had a profound and far-reaching effect on Black intellectual an political culture. Through the teaching and practice of Kawaida, Us emerged in the 60’s as a vanguard organization. Us has played a vanguard role in shaping the Black Arts Movement, Black Studies, Black Student Union Movement, Afrocentricity, rites of passage programs, the study of ancient Egyptian Classical African Civilizations, the independent school movement, African life-cycle ceremonies, the Simba Wachanga youth movement, and Black theological and ethical discourse.

Dr. Karenga and Us have also played a key role in Black United Front efforts serving on the founding and the executive committee of the Black Power Conferences of the 60’s, the Black United Front, the National African American Leadership Summit, the Black Leadership Retreat and the Million Man March/Day of Absence. They also created the National Association of Kawaida Organizations (NAKO) as a cooperative framework for the many organizations who subscribe to Kawaida philosophy but maintain their own independent structures. Celebrating its thirtieth anniversary in 1995, Us continues its activities under the motto, “Anywhere we are, US is” and with three basic focuses of “Struggle, service and institution-building.”

Dr. Karenga is author of numerous scholarly articles and ten books. Included in his works are Introduction to Black Studies, the most widely used intro text in Black Studies; his retranslation and commentary on Ancient Egyptian texts which is titled, Selections From The Husia: Sacred Wisdom of Ancient EgyptThe African American Holiday of Kwanzaa, and The Book of Coming Forth By Day.

An activist-scholar of national and international recognition, he has lectured of the life and struggle of Africa peoples on the major campuses of the U.S.A. and in Africa, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, Trinidad, Britain and Canada. Also, Dr. Karenga served as the chair of the African American delegation to the Black and African World Festival of Art and Culture in Lagos, Nigeria, (1977); spokesperson for the Delegation of Independent African Schools in the U.S. to the People’s Republic of China, (1977); representative to FESTPAC in Dakar, Senegal (1987); ; and gave the inaugural lecture to establish Black History Month in Britain, in London (1987).

Dr. Karenga is also widely known as the creator of Kwanzaa, an African American and Pan-African holiday celebrated also in Africa, the Caribbean, South American — especially Brazil, and African communities in Britain and other European countries.

Moreover, he is the recipient of numerous awards for scholarship, leadership and community service including: The National Leadership Award for Outstanding Scholarly Achievements in Black Studies from the National Council for Black Studies and the Diop Exemplary Leadership Award from the Department of African American Studies–Temple University. He also served as a Visiting Professor in Black Politics at Stanford University and as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar in Black Studies a the University of Nebraska, Omaha.

Finally, Dr. Karenga, as chairman of Us, served as a member of the executive council of the National Organizing Committee of the Million Man March/Day of Absence and authored the Mission Statement for this joint project, as well as co-edited the recent book: The Million Man March/Day of Absence: A Commemorative Anthology.