Maulana Karenga was born on a tenant farm in Parsonsburg, Maryland, in 1941. At age 18, he moved to La and became involved in the Black Power movement. In the 1960s, he created the African American holiday of Kwanzaa, honoring African tradition. He later earned two doctoral degrees and authored several publications on African studies. Activist and writer Maulana Karenga was born Ronald McKinley Everett on July 14, 1941, in Parsonsburg, Maryland. He was one of 14 children of a Baptist minister and tenant farmer, who used his family to work in the fields.
After earning his associate’s degree, Everett earned his bachelor’s as well as master’s degrees in political science in the University of California, Los Angeles. While pursuing his doctorate, he educated African culture courses and switched his name to Maulana (Swahili-Arabic for “master teacher”) and Karenga (Swahili for “custodian of tradition”). He rejected the Eurocentric perspective of America and urged a Black Nationalist doctrine.
Following the Watts riots of 1965, Karenga helped create the Black Congress among residents of the Watts district to greatly help re-establish the city. This activity resulted in the creation people, a community organization calling for a cultural revolution among blacks. US was instrumental in constructing independent schools, African-American studies departments and black student unions. Karenga also helped set up black power seminars in a number of important U.S. cities, supplying blacks with a program for social change.
In 1966, Karenga created Kwanzaa, a pan-African holiday according to African agricultural tasks that support blacks to observe their ethnic origins. As racial interference propagate across the united states in the 1960s and ’70s, Karenga encouraged the establishment of a independent African American political structure. He concurrently worked with all the important political leaders in California and across the united states to help reconstruct community relations following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968.
Currently, US was engaged in a brutal battle together with the Black Panther Party for supremacy in the African American community. This resulted in a 1969 shootout at UCLA, in which two Panthers were killed. By 1971, many African American leaders rejected Karenga’s overbearing style, doctrine of black separatism and chauvinist attitudes. The exact same year, he was detained and convicted of attacking a female US member and was sent to prison. Shortly after, the United States organization fell into disarray and disbanded in 1974.
After his release from prison, Karenga acknowledged that US had made errors, which weakened the movement and undermined its power to change with all the times. Later, Karenga went back to school and earned two doctorate degrees. Then he started to espouse Marxist principles of class struggle and supported blacks to work together toward common aims. He’s played an integral part in developing plans which have identified black identity and helped many African Americans connect with their ethnic origins, both in the academic world and local communities. He continues to be an important voice in the African American community.