Who is Professor Ron Karenga? Karenga is the inventor of Kwanzaa—the tradition begun in 1966 that is now given respectful deference by educators and P.C. mediacrats. Part of the puffing up of Kwanzaa involves strict inattention to the biography of its creator—a man who not only boasts two Ph.D.s (one from the former U. S. International University) but who also spent four years in prison.
Details of alleged criminal acts are available under Karenga’s name in David Horowitz’s alphabetically arranged book, The Professors. Here’s a sample: “The victims Deborah Jones and Gail Davis were whipped with an electrical cord and beaten with a karate baton after being ordered to remove their clothing.” Other allegations, apparently convincing to jurors, involved putting a hot soldering iron in Davis’ mouth, tightening a vise on one of Jones’ toes, and holding the two women hostage at gunpoint.
The professor and his two “United Slaves” cohorts (an organization also founded by Karenga in the 60s) were convicted of felonious assault and false imprisonment. Karenga was sentenced to prison in September of 1971, and released in 1975. Shortly thereafter Karenga secured a faculty position at San Diego State University. (Horowitz notes, “Apparently a nationwide search for applicants was unable to turn up a better candidate.”)
In 1977, now at Cal State Long Beach, Karenga explained that Kwanzaa serves as an alternative to Christian, Jewish, and Muslim holiday traditions. He also wrote extensively about its seven principles: unity (umoja), collective responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purposeful development of one’s people (nia), group autonomy (kujichagulia), communal creativity (kuumba), and faith in one’s people, parents, and teachers (imani). (Ann Coulter rudely noted that these seven principles are the same collectivist beliefs touted by the Symbionese Liberation Army—the 70s terrorist group that kidnapped Patty Hearst.)
Karenga has kept out of legal trouble since 1975. Indeed, in 1989 he became head of the Black Studies Department at Cal State Long Beach, making good on the Swahili title "Maulana" (Master Teacher) that he bestowed upon himself in the 60s. (Only in America’s university system can one go from prison to department head in less than fifteen years.) Nowadays, Karenga’s comments in support of Cuban Internationalism and against the “state terrorism” and “mass murder” perpetrated by “the U. S. and its allies” make him a team player in the academy.
With the mainstreaming of Kwanzaa, Karenga has toned down the separatist, anti-religious rhetoric that he employed when touting the “sevenfold path of blackness”—“think black, talk black, act black, create black, buy black, vote black, and live black.” Indeed, Karenga now denies that Kwanzaa was created “to give a Black alternative to the existing holiday”—though those very words appear in his earlier writings.
What is clear is that Kwanzaa didn’t originate in any authentic African tradition or in ideas that transcend racial solidarity—ideas like “Peace on earth. Good will toward men.”