Timeline Capsule
Time Capsule Details | BeingBlackToday.com

Maulana Karenga
Professor, Activist, Author
Creator of Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa: 1st Pan-African Holiday Created

Maulana Karenga was a major figure in the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and in 1965 co-founded US, a black nationalist organization, with Hakim Jamal.

Early Life
Karenga was born in Parsonsburg, Maryland, the 14th child and 7th son in his family.  His father was a tenant farmer and Baptist minister, who hired out his family to work as sharecroppers.

College Years
At the age of 18 years, he moved to Los Angeles to live with his older brother, who was a teacher, and immediately enrolled in Los Angeles City College.  As a young man, he became active with the civil rights organizations CORE and SNCC, and developed an interest in African studies.  He became the first African student elected president of Los Angeles City College.

Earns BA and MA Degrees
and Changes Name
After earning his associate degree, he earned BA and MA degrees, from UCLA, in political science.  During the course of his education, he studied Swahili, Arabic, and other African-related subjects.  During this period, he took the name Karenga (Swahili for “keeper of tradition”) and the title Maulani (Swahili-Arabic for “master teacher”).

While pursuing his PhD. at UCLA, he taught African culture classes for local African community members and joined a study group called the Circle of Seven.

1960s Activism
After the Watts Riots, Karenga and the Circle of Seven established a community organization called US (meaning “Us black people”).  Karenga cited Malcom X’s Afro-American Unity program as an influence on the US organization’s work.  The US organization joined in several community revival programs.

Community Self-Defense
As racial disturbances spread across the country, Karenga appeared at a series of Black Power Conferences, joining other groups in urging establishment of a separate political structure for Africans.  US developed a youth component with para-military aspects called the Simba Wachanga, which advocated and practiced community self-defense and service to the masses.

1966 Kwanzaa Created
Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966 to be the first Pan-African holiday.  He said Kwanzaa was created to “give [Africans] an opportunity to celebrate themselves and their history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society.”

Nguzo Saba:
Seven Principles of
African Heritage
The rituals of the holiday promote African traditions and Nguzo Saba, the seven principles of African Heritage.

Strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

Define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

Collective Work & Responsibility
Build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and solve them together.

Cooperative Economics
Build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and profit from them together.

Make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Always do as much as we can, in the way that we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

Believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.