Today's Articles

People, Locations, Episodes

Mon, 07.14.1941

Maulana Karenga, Educator, and Activist born

Maulana Karenga

*Maulana Karenga was born on this date in 1941. He is a Black educator, writer, and activist.

Born Ronald McKinley Everett in Parsonsburg, Maryland, he is the 14th child of a Baptist minister. He moved to California in the late 1950s to attend Los Angeles City College.   He attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as part of a federal program and received his Master's in political science and African studies.  After meeting Malcolm X, Karenga began to embrace Black Nationalism, and after the Watts riots in 1965, he joined the Black Power movement. He changed his first name to "Maulana," Swahili, for "master teacher."

He also formed the US Organization, an outspoken Black Nationalist group with Hakim Jamal.  During this time, he formulated a set of principles called Kawaida, a Swahili term for tradition and reason.  Soon he founded the African American holiday of Kwanzaa, first celebrated in California, first celebrated on December 26, 1966. Karenga called on African Americans to adopt his secular humanism and other practices as mythical. Kwanzaa is an adjunct of Kawaida.

In 1969, the Black Panthers and the US disagreed over who should head the new Afro-American Studies Center at UCLA and other campus organizational issues. US disbanded in 1971 after Karenga, Louis Smith, and Luz Maria Tamayo were convicted of felonious assault and false imprisonment.  He served 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. He was granted parole in 1975.

In 1984, he co-hosted a conference that grew the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations.  In 1989, Karenga became chairman of the Africana Studies department at California State University, Long Beach.  In 1995, he sat on the organizing committee and authored the mission statement for the Million Man March. 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 Black studies textbook, now in its third edition.

According to the official Kwanzaa website, Karenga earned two doctorates: a Ph.D. in political science from the United States International University and another in social ethics from the University of Southern California. Karenga delivered a eulogy at the 2001 funeral service of New Black Panther Party leader Khalid Abdul Muhammad, praising him for his organizing activities and commitment to black empowerment.

In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Maulana Karenga on his 100 Greatest African Americans list.  Karenga has declined to discuss the convictions with reporters and does not mention them in biographical materials.  During a 2007 appearance at Wabash College, he again denied the charges and described himself as a former political prisoner.

To Become a professor



Voices That Guide Us interview
African American Registry
Box 19441
Minneapolis, MN 55419

New Poem Each Day

Poetry Corner

White men handed papers to my mother through a cracked door. We had to get boxes from the liquor store & watch her get drunk. Before, just yesterday, my... EVICTION by Michelle Clinton.
Read More