“The Nguzo Saba are the moral minimum value system Black people need in order to rescue and reconstruct their history and humanity, indeed their daily lives, in their own image and interests.”
1. Dr. Maulana Karenga was born Ronald McKinley Everett on a poultry farm in Parsonsburg, Maryland on July 14, 1941. He was the seventh son and fourteenth child of a baptist minister. Ronald Everette would eventally change his name 20 years later to Maulana Karenga which translates as “Master Teacher”.
2. Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966. His goal was to create the first African American holiday and in his own words:
“give Blacks an alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society”
The name Kwanzaa comes from a phrase of Swahili origin, “Matunda Ya Kwanza”, and translates as “First Fruits of the Harvest”. The holiday is actually based on African agricultural rites and communal activities. One of the holiday’s main goals is to cause those of African descent to look back to their cultural roots as a source of celebration.
3. Dr. Karenga has served on the Executive Committees of several Conferences, Events and Organizations dedicated to uplifting and educating African Americans. These include the the Black Leadership Retreat, Black Power Conferences of the 60’s, the National Black United Front, the National Association of Kawaida Organizations (NAKO), the National African American Leadership Summit, and the Million Man March/Day of Absence. He also authored the Million Man March’s mission statement and served from 1989 to 2002 as the Chairman of the Africana studies Department at California State University, Long Beach.
4. Maulana Karenga has been awarded two Doctorate degrees and one Honorary Doctorate degree. His first PH.D. in Political Science was awarded by Alliant International University in 1976 for a 170 page dissertation entitled Afro-American Nationalism: Social Strategy and Struggle for Community and his second PH.D in Social Ethicas was awarded by the University of Southern California in 1994 for an 803 page dissertation entitled “Maat, the Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt: A Study in Classical African Ethics”. His Honorary Doctorate was received from the University of Durban in South Africa.
5. In 1965, Maulana Karenga and Malcom X’s cousin Hakim Jamal founded the Black Nationalist organization entitled US, as in “Us and Them”. This organization was committed to the cause of Black cultural unity. Eventually, due to a difference in vision for the organization, Hakim Jamal went on to found the Malcolm X Foundation, based primarily on the teachings and ideology of Malcolm X while Maulana Karenga continued to root US primarily in Pan-Africanism, African culture and African teachings.
6. Dr. Karenga has authored/published many books and articles during his lifetime including Introduction to Black Studies, which is currently in its fourth edition, Book of Coming Forth By Day, The Million Man March/Day of Absence: A Commemorative Anthology, Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture, Maat, The Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt, Kawaida and Questions of Life and Struggle, Handbook of Black Studies, Odu Ifa: The Ethical Teachings, Selections from the Husia: Sacred Wisdom of Ancient Egypt, and Maulana Karenga: An Intellectual Portrait.
7. Karenga has received numerous awards for his tireless work and commitment including the C.L.R. James Award for Outstanding Publication of Scholarly Works that Advance the Discipline of Africana and Black Studies, the National Leadership Award for Outstanding Scholarly Achievements in Black Studies from the National Council for Black Studies, the President’s Award for Scholarship and Service in the Development of Black Studies, the Diop Exemplary Leadership Award from the Department of African American Studies at Temple University, the Richard Allen Living Legend Award from the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Pioneer Award from the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund.
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