the power for minorities
By Dwight Flenniken III
was the first African-American to serve as student body president
and vice president at Los Angeles City College. It was there
he formed a foundation of leadership and activism he keeps
with him to this day.
Karenga has served as chairman of the black studies department
at Cal State Long Beach since 1989. He holds doctorate degrees
in political science and social ethics, and was awarded an
honorary doctorate of philosophy from the University of Durban-Westville
in South Africa for his work with African people throughout
One of his most recognized accomplishments is the creation
of Kwanzaa, a holiday that celebrates African culture worldwide.
The seven principles laid out in the vision of Kwanzaa speak
for a need to share such things as technology, land and wealth
with developing countries.
"The European dominated world believes it has a right
to all of the world, then they wonder why people are angry
with them," Karenga said, referring to the backlash against
America in developing countries. "We cannot consume other
people's wealth, we must share the wealth."
Karenga played a major role in the black power and Civil Rights
movements of the 1960s and is still very active in the struggle
for Black equality.
"That's when I came into national and international prominence
during the black power movement," Karenga said. "I
enjoy struggling, the '60s made me who I am.
"America has a political culture that at it's heart is
marred by three fundamental problems: racism, classism and
sexism," he said. "Especially the first one effects
black people in a very negative way."
In that same political process, recent troubles haunting Jesse
Jackson of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition have raised questions
of who will be the next to represent the black community on
a national front.
The coalition unites people of different backgrounds to make
America's promise of liberty and justice for all a reality.
"We don't really need one person who speaks for everyone
all the time," Karenga said.
California Representative Maxine Waters, Drew Ali, Jesse Jackson
and Minister Louis Farrakhan all act as prominent leaders
for black America, Karenga said.
Karenga has lectured at campuses in Senegal, Nigeria, Egypt,
South Africa, China, Cuba, Trinidad, Britain, Canada and the
United States. At these lectures he has raised questions concerning
African struggle on an international level.
Karenga has received numerous awards for his work including
honors from the National Council for Black Studies, Rainbow/PUSH
Coalition, New York African Studies Association and the Citizenship
"I want to continue to lecture and to build coalitions
with Native-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans and progressive
whites," he said.
Karenga will continue his work relating the African struggle
to those around the world, and plans to lecture and write,
while remaining the chairman of the black studies department
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