---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 17:34:08 -0800
From: radtimes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: FYI: 3 anti-Karenga/Kwanzaa articles
FYI: 3 anti-Karenga/Kwanzaa articles
by Paul Mulshine
December 24, 1999
ON DECEMBER 24, 1971, the New York Times ran one of the first of many
articles on a new holiday designed to foster unity among African Americans.
The holiday, called Kwanzaa, was applauded by a certain sixteen-year-old
minister who explained that the feast would perform the valuable service of
"de-whitizing" Christmas. The minister was a nobody at the time but he
would later go on to become perhaps the premier race-baiter of the
twentieth century. His name was Al Sharpton and he would later spawn the
Tawana Brawley hoax and then incite anti-Jewish tensions in a 1995 incident
that ended with the arson deaths of seven people.
Great minds think alike. The inventor of the holiday was one of the few
black "leaders" in America even worse than Sharpton. But there was no
mention in the Times article of this man or of the fact that at that very
moment he was sitting in a California prison.
And there was no mention of the curious fact that this purported benefactor
of the black people had founded an organization that in its short history
tortured and murdered blacks in ways of which the Ku Klux Klan could only
It was in newspaper articles like that, repeated in papers all over the
country, that the tradition of Kwanzaa began. It is a tradition not out of
Africa but out of Orwell. Both history and language have been bent to serve
a political goal. When that New York Times article appeared, Ron Karenga's
crimes were still recent events. If the reporter had bothered to do any
research into the background of the Kwanzaa founder, he might have learned
about Karenga's trial earlier that year on charges of torturing two women
who were members of US (United Slaves), a black nationalist cult he had
A May 14, 1971, article in the Los Angeles Times described the testimony of
one of them: "Deborah Jones, who once was given the Swahili title of an
African queen, said she and Gail Davis were whipped with an electrical cord
and beaten with a karate baton after being ordered to remove their clothes.
She testified that a hot soldering iron was placed in Miss Davis' mouth and
placed against Miss Davis' face and that one of her own big toes was
tightened in a vise. Karenga, head of US, also put detergent and running
hoses in their mouths, she said."
Back then, it was relatively easy to get information on the trial. Now it's
almost impossible. It took me two days' work to find articles about it. The
Los Angeles Times seems to have been the only major newspaper that reported
it and the stories were buried deep in the paper, which now is available
only on microfilm. And the microfilm index doesn't start until 1972, so it
is almost impossible to find the three small articles that cover Karenga's
trial and conviction on charges of torture. That is fortunate for Karenga.
The trial showed him to be not just brutal, but deranged. He and three
members of his cult had tortured the women in an attempt to find some
nonexistent "crystals" of poison. Karenga thought his enemies were out to
And in another lucky break for Karenga, the trial transcript no longer
exists. I filed a request for it with the Superior Court of Los Angeles.
After a search, the court clerk could find no record of the trial. So the
exact words of the black woman who had a hot soldering iron pressed against
her face by the man who founded Kwanzaa are now lost to history. The only
document the court clerk did find was particularly revealing, however. It
was a transcript of Karenga's sentencing hearing on Sept. 17, 1971.
A key issue was whether Karenga was sane. Judge Arthur L. Alarcon read from
a psychiatrist's report: "Since his admission here he has been isolated and
has been exhibiting bizarre behavior, such as staring at the wall, talking
to imaginary persons, claiming that he was attacked by dive-bombers and
that his attorney was in the next cell. ^ During part of the interview he
would look around as if reacting to hallucination and when the examiner
walked away for a moment he began a conversation with a blanket
located on his bed, stating that there was someone there and implying
indirectly that the 'someone' was a woman imprisoned with him for some
offense. This man now presents a picture which can be considered both
paranoid and schizophrenic with hallucinations and elusions, inappropriate
affect, disorganization, and impaired contact with the environment."
The founder of Kwanzaa paranoid? It seems so. But as the old saying goes,
just because you're paranoid it doesn't mean that someone isn't out to get you.
ACCORDING TO COURT DOCUMENTS, Karenga's real name is Ron N. Everett. In the
'60s, he awarded himself the title "maulana," Swahili for "master teacher."
He was born on a poultry farm in Maryland, the fourteenth child of a
Baptist minister. He came to California in the late 1950s to attend Los
Angeles Community College. He moved on to UCLA, where he got a Master's
degree in political science and African Studies. By the mid-1960s, he had
established himself as a leading "cultural nationalist."
That is a term that had some meaning in the '60s, mainly as a way of
distinguishing Karenga's followers from the Black Panthers, who were
Another way of distinguishing might be to think of Karenga's gang as the
Crips and the Panthers as the bloods. Despite all their rhetoric about
white people, they reserved their most vicious violence for each other. In
1969, the two groups squared off over the question of who would control the
new Afro-American Studies Center at UCLA. According to a Los Angeles Times
article, Karenga and his adherents backed one candidate, the Panthers
another. Both groups took to carrying guns on campus, a situation
that, remarkably, did not seem to bother the university administration. The
Black Student Union, however, set up a coalition to try and bring peace
between the Panthers and the group headed by the man whom the Times labeled
"Ron Ndabezitha Everett-Karenga."
On Jan. 17, 1969, about 150 students gathered in a lunchroom to discuss the
situation. Two Panthers, admitted to UCLA like many of the black students
as part of a federal program that put high-school dropouts into the school,
apparently spent a good part of the meeting in verbal attacks against
Karenga. This did not sit well with Karenga's followers, many of whom had
adopted the look of their leader, pseudo-African clothing and a shaved head.
In modern gang parlance, you might say Karenga was "dissed" by John Jerome
Huggins, 23, and Alprentice "Bunchy" Carter, 26.
After the meeting, the two Panthers were met in the hallway by two brothers
who were members of US, George P. and Larry Joseph Stiner. The Stiners
pulled pistols and shot the two Panthers dead. One of the Stiners took a
bullet in the shoulder, apparently from a Panther's gun.
There were other beatings and shooting in Los Angeles involving US, but by
then the tradition of African nationalism had already taken hold, among
whites. That tradition calls for any white person, whether a journalist, a
college official, or a politician, to ignore the obvious flaws of the
concept that blacks should have a separate culture. "The students here have
handled themselves in an absolutely impeccable manner," UCLA chancellor
Charles E. Young told the L.A. Times. "They have been concerned. They
haven't argued who the director should be; they have been saying what kind
of person he should be." Young made those remarks after the shooting. And
the university went ahead with its Afro-American Studies Program. Karenga,
meanwhile, continued to build and strengthen US, a unique group that seems
to have combined the elements of a street gang with those of a California cult.
The members performed assaults and robberies but they also strictly
followed the rules laid down in The Quotable Karenga, a book that laid out
"The Path of Blackness." "The sevenfold path of blackness is think black,
talk black, act black, create black, buy black, vote black, and live
black," the book states.
In retrospect, it may be fortunate that the cult fell apart over the
torture charges. Left to his own devices, Karenga might have orchestrated
the type of mass suicide later pioneered by the People's Temple and copied
by the Heaven's Gate cult. Instead, he apparently fell into deep paranoia
shortly after the killings at UCLA. He began fearing that his followers
were trying to have him killed. On May 9, 1970 he initiated the torture
session that led to his imprisonment. Karenga himself will not comment on
that incident and the victims cannot be located, so the sole remaining
account is in the brief passage from the L.A. Times describing tortures
inflicted by Karenga and his fellow defendants, Louis Smith and Luz Maria
"The victims said they were living at Karenga's home when Karenga accused
them of trying to kill him by placing 'crystals' in his food and water and
in various areas of his house. When they denied it, allegedly they were
beaten with an electrical cord and a hot soldering iron was put in Miss
Davis' mouth and against her face. Police were told that one of Miss Jones'
toes was placed in a small vise which then allegedly was tightened by one
of the defendants. The following day Karenga allegedly told the women that
'Vietnamese torture is nothing compared to what I know.' Miss Tamayo
reportedly put detergent in their mouths, Smith turned a water hose full
force on their faces, and Karenga, holding a gun, threatened to shoot both
Karenga was convicted of two counts of felonious assault and one count of
false imprisonment. He was sentenced on Sept. 17, 1971, to serve one to ten
years in prison. A brief account of the sentencing ran in several
newspapers the following day. That was apparently the last newspaper
article to mention Karenga's unfortunate habit of doing unspeakable things
to black people. After that, the only coverage came from the hundreds of
news accounts that depict him as the wonderful man who invented Kwanzaa.
LOOK AT ANY MAP OF THE WORLD and you will see that Ghana and Kenya are on
opposite sides of the continent. This brings up an obvious question about
Kwanzaa: Why did Karenga use Swahili words for his fictional African feast?
American blacks are primarily descended from people who came from Ghana and
other parts of West Africa. Kenya and Tanzania, where Swahili is spoken,
are several thousand miles away, about as far from Ghana as Los Angeles is
from New York. Yet in celebrating Kwanzaa, African-Americans are supposed
to employ a vocabulary of such Swahili words as "kujichagulia" and
"kuumba." This makes about as much sense as having Irish-Americans
celebrate St. Patrick's Day by speaking Polish. One possible explanation is
that Karenga was simply ignorant of African geography and history when he
came up with Kwanzaa in 1966. That might explain why he would schedule a
harvest festival near the solstice, a season when few fruits or vegetables
are harvested anywhere. But a better explanation is that he simply has
contempt for black people.
That does not seem a farfetched hypothesis. Despite all his rhetoric about
white racism, I could find no record that he or his followers ever raised a
hand in anger against a white person. In fact, Karenga had an excellent
relationship with Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty in the '60s and also met with
then-Governor Ronald Reagan and other white politicians. But he and his
gang were hell on blacks. And Karenga certainly seems to have had a low
opinion of his fellow African-Americans. "People think it's African, but
it's not," he said about his holiday in an interview quoted in the
Washington Post. "I came up with Kwanzaa because black people in this
country wouldn't celebrate it if they knew it was American. Also, I put it
around Christmas because I knew that's when a lot of bloods would be
partying." "Bloods" is a '60s California slang term for black people.
That Post article appeared in 1978. Like other news articles from that era,
it makes no mention of Karenga's criminal past, which seems to have been
forgotten the minute he got out of prison in 1975. Profiting from the
absence of memory, he remade himself as Maulana Ron Karenga, went into
academics, and by 1979 he was running the Black Studies Department at
California State University in Long Beach.
This raises a question: Karenga had just ten years earlier proven himself
capable of employing guns and bullets in his efforts to control hiring in
the Black Studies Department at UCLA. So how did this ex-con, fresh out
jail, get the job at Long Beach? Did he just send a rsum and wait by the
phone? The officials at Long Beach State don't like that type of question.
I called the university and got a spokeswoman by the name of Toni Barone.
She listened to my questions and put me on hold. Christmas music was
playing, a nice touch under the circumstances. She told me to fax her my
questions. I sent a list of questions that included the matter of whether
Karenga had employed threats to get his job. I also asked just what sort of
crimes would preclude a person from serving on the faculty there in Long
Beach. And whether the university takes any security measures to ensure
that Karenga doesn't shoot any students. Barone faxed me back a reply
stating that the university is pleased with Karenga's performance and has
no record of the procedures that led to his hiring. She ignored the
question about how they protect students.
Actually, there is clear evidence that Karenga has reformed. In 1975, he
dropped his cultural nationalist views and converted to Marxism. For anyone
else, this would have been seen as an endorsement of radicalism, but for
Karenga it was considered a sign that he had moderated his outlook. The
ultimate irony is that now that Karenga is a Marxist, the capitalists have
taken over his holiday. The seven principles of Kwanzaa include "collective
work" and "cooperative economics," but Kwanzaa is turning out to be as
commercial as Christmas, generating millions in greeting-card sales alone.
The purists are whining. "It's clear that a number of major corporations
have started to take notice and try to profit from Kwanzaa," said a San
Francisco State black studies professor named "Oba T'Shaka" in one news
account. "That's not good, with money comes corruption." No, he's wrong.
With money comes kitsch. The L.A. Times reported a group was planning an
"African Village Faire," the pseudo-archaic spelling of "faire" nicely
combining kitsch Africana with kitsch Americana.
With money also comes forgetfulness. As those warm Kwanzaa feelings are
generated in a spirit of holiday cheer, those who celebrate this holiday do
so in blissful ignorance of the sordid violence, paranoia, and mayhem that
helped generate its birth some three decades ago in a section of America
that has vanished down the memory hole.
The True Spirit of Kwanzaa
by William Norman Grigg
Vol. 15, No. 26
December 20, 1999
Among Bill Clinton's numerous despicable distinctions is the fact that he
is the first occupant of the Oval Office to extend official recognition to
the ersatz holiday called "Kwanzaa," a seven-day annual "African" festival
that runs from December 26th to New Year's Day. Mr. Clinton has described
Kwanzaa as "a vibrant celebration of African culture" that "transcends
international boundaries ^ link[ing] diverse individuals in a unique
celebration of a dynamic heritage." In fact, Kwanzaa is a product of
violent black separatism, and it was designed to foment insularity and a
sense of racial grievance.
The founder of Kwanzaa is a petty criminal named Ronald Everett, alias Ron
Karenga. In the mid-1960s, Everett created a Los Angeles-based black
militant group called United Slaves (US) for the purpose of igniting a
"cultural revolution" among American blacks. Toward that end he created
Kwanzaa (named after a Swahili term for "first fruits") as a way of
evangelizing on behalf of his revolution. In his book Kwanzaa:
Origins, Concepts, Practice, "Karenga" claims that the spurious holiday
offers blacks "an opportunity to celebrate themselves and history rather
than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society."
However, "Karenga's" so-called Nguzo Saba (seven principles) for his "new
black value system" are little more than Marxism transposed into an
afrocentric key: Umoja (unity); Kujichagulia (self-determination), which,
according to "Karenga," refers to afrocentricity; Ujima (collective work
and responsibility); Ujamaa (cooperative economics), which "Karenga"
describes as "essentially a commitment to the practice of shared social
wealth"; Nia (purpose), which refers to "collective vocation" for black
people; Kuumba (creativity); and Imani (faith).
To provide a tangible symbol of his seven principles, "Karenga"
appropriated the menorah from Judaism, adorning it in Kwanzaa's seasonal
colors (red, black, and green) and re-christening it the "kinara." No
Kwanzaa celebration is complete without the recitation of the Kwanzaa
pledge: "We pledge allegiance to the red, black, and green, our flag, the
symbol of our eternal struggle, and to the land we must obtain; one nation
of black people, with one God of us all, totally united in the struggle,
for black love, black freedom, and black self-determination."
This is the stuff of parody; it is a photographic negative of the rites
conducted by bedsheet-bedecked white supremacists who cavort around burning
crosses, or neo-Nazis who offer oblations to their pagan deity Odin. Yet
"Karenga" and his black nationalist holiday have been eagerly embraced by
the apostles of multiculturalism and tolerance. In his presidential
messages commemorating Kwanzaa, Bill Clinton has stated that "Karenga's"
seven principles "ring true not only for African Americans, but also for
all Americans ^ bring[ing] new purpose to our daily lives." In recent years
the mainstreaming of Kwanzaa has proceeded at an astonishing pace. The U.S.
Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp in 1997, and the Smithsonian
Institution sponsors an annual celebration.
Christian activist Carlotta Morrow, whose sister was lured into "Karenga's"
United Slaves organization in the 1970s, is much less enchanted with the
observance, describing its message as "anti-Christian, anti-Jewish, and
black separatist" in nature. To the extent that the holiday bears the
impress of its creator, it should also be seen as a celebration of
depravity and violence.
On several occasions, factional quarrels between "Karenga's" US
organization and the Black Panthers erupted into open gunplay, which
resulted in the death of several people.
In 1970, "Karenga" and two of his followers were arrested and charged with
conspiracy and assault in the torture of Deborah Jones and Gail Davis, two
of his female followers. Believing that the women had tried to poison him,
"Karenga" forced the women to disrobe at gunpoint and had them beaten.
"Vietnamese torture is nothing compared to what I know," he informed his
victims, whereupon he forced a hot soldering iron into the mouth of one
while the other had a toe squeezed in a vice. Both women were also forced
to consume detergent and a caustic liquid as part of their "discipline."
According to the July 27, 1971 Los Angeles Times, a psychological profile
of "Karenga" described him "as a danger to society who is in need of
prolonged custodial treatment in prison." The profile noted that "Karenga,"
while legally sane, was "confused and not in contact with reality." Neither
his criminal record nor his insuperable difficulties with reality has
impeded "Karenga's" career prospects, however: He is presently professor
and chair of the department of Black Studies at California State
While some might consider Ron "Karenga's" implausible triumph to be an
illustration of P.T. Barnum's axiom regarding human gullibility, there is
something much worse than foolishness at work. Kwanzaa offers a potent
illustration of Communist theoretician Antonio Gramsci's strategy for
overthrowing Western society by conducting a "long march through the
institutions" of culture, including educational and religious institutions.
It is this urge to destroy and defile our Western patrimony that represents
the true spirit of Kwanzaa.
The Spirit of Kwanzaa
by Mona Charen
December 30, 1997
The International Black Buyers and Manufacturers Expo and Conference, an
association representing more than 1,000 black-owned businesses, has sent a
blistering letter to large American firms like Hallmark Cards and Giant
Food, telling them to keep their hands off Kwanzaa-related products. The
sale of Kwanzaa products by non-black businesses, the organization
contends, is "arrogantly exploitative of the culture of African people."
According to The Washington Post, Sala Damali, one of the founders of the
IBBMEC, said, "Many companies look at it as a normal exercise of commerce.
We find it insulting and disrespectful to the actual spirit of Kwanzaa."
Well. First, let us consider what the response would be if an association
of white business owners (that very idea is anathema) were to issue a
statement saying that blacks should not sell items related to, say, St.
Lucia's Day, a Scandinavian festival. It would be called racist within a
The notion that only blacks should buy and sell Kwanzaa products is equally
As to the "spirit of Kwanzaa," that is a more sensitive matter. Americans
have clasped Kwanzaa to their bosom. Major TV stations elevate it to the
same status as other winter holidays, like Christmas and Hanukkah, by
broadcasting "Happy Kwanzaa" greetings between Christmas and the New Year.
Products for Kwanzaa, including candelabras and greeting cards, fill the
stores. A quick Lexis-Nexis search of Kwanzaa stories in major newspapers
turns up hundreds of feel-good features about the "spirit of sharing" (Los
Angeles Times), the "feast for body and soul" (Baltimore Sun), "food,
fellowship and pride" (Seattle Times) and "community unity" (The Orlando
Most Americans, eager to respect the traditions of every group, assume that
Kwanzaa is what it sounds like: a traditional African celebration handed
down over the generations.
But Kwanzaa actually began in 1966, the brainchild of Ronald Everett.
Everettwho rejected his "slave name" and adopted the title "Maulana,"
Swahili for "master teacher," and the name (Ron) Karenga, was a radical
black nationalist who founded a gang called US (United Slaves) and did
battle, figuratively and literally, with the Black Panthers. Karenga wanted
to design an alternative to Christmas for American blacks. So, with a pinch
here and a word there, Kwanzaa is adapted from a Swahili phrase meaning
"first fruit", and heavy borrowing from non-African symbols like the
candelabrum, he stitched together his holiday.
It is reasonable to ask why American blacks, who have been Christian longer
than the Mormons or the Christian Scientists, should need an alternative to
Christmas. But Kwanzaa is catching on. The holiday lasts seven nights and
is dedicated to seven principles. These principles are little more than the
self-important gaseousness of 1960s radicalism: unity, self-determination,
collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose,
creativity, and faith. Amiri Baraka, nee LeRoi Jones, he changed his name
at Karenga's urging, has now become a Marxist and blesses Kwanzaa by
describing it as "really socialism -- collective work, cooperative economics."
Ron Karenga is now a respected member of the American establishment. He is
a professor at California State University at Long Beach and the chairman
of the Black Studies Department. He would like people to forget his
violent, even vicious past. When the United Slaves and Black Panthers
tangled, people were killed. Karenga hates to see it called murder. It was,
he insists, just a "shoot-out." He would also like people to forget the
time he spent in prison for ordering the torture of a young woman.
Do the millions of black Americans who celebrate Kwanzaa think of it as the
ritualization of socialism? Doubtful. Do they object to the mainstreaming
of Kwanzaa symbols and products? Probably not. Do they know anything about
Karenga and his past? It doesn't seem so. When Karenga spoke at the Million
Man March, he went virtually unnoticed.
But the holiday's origins in a terrible time and with a terrible person are
certainly relevant to its legitimacy. Unlike the birthday of Martin Luther
King, Kwanzaa celebrates separatism and black nationalism. Perhaps the
IBBMEC is right. Perhaps the practice of so many big American corporations
to domesticate the holiday with greeting cards and special products is
"disrespectful to the actual spirit of Kwanzaa." It is not a spirit that
bears close examination.
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