marks black studies chairman’s
By Monica Levette Clark
Maulana Karenga, creator of Kwanzaa, had
been chairman of the Cal State Long Beach
black studies department for 13 years, but
retired the position last Thursday, leaving
behind a legacy of strong leadership and
“I am honored to have served and I will
continue to serve,” Karenga said. He accepted
a plaque commemorating his services as chairman
at the welcome back celebration, which was
held by the California Black Faculty and
Staff Association, in the University Student
Union. “I’m not trying to be [chairman]
CSULB President Robert Maxson was on hand
to join in the celebration and recognition
“I am a Maulana fan,” Maxson said. “Maulana
has given such wonderful leadership.
He has come to my office to personally spend
time with me, and he’s helped me, through
the years, to understand the black studies
department, and I appreciate that.”
Karenga has lectured at major universities
throughout the United States, and countries
such as China, Cuba, Trinidad, Britain and
Canada as a known activist, author, professor
and scholar. He has also received several
awards for his leadership and community
“I have strived to be a tireless teacher
of the right, the good, and the possible,”
Although he will use his extra time to travel
and do research, Karenga said he will still
be very active at CSULB and in the black
“He has always looked out for the black
studies faculty and students,” Maxson said.
“He is a treasure, not just for the department,
but for the university as a whole.”
Black studies faculty and staff agreed that
during his years serving as chairman, Karenga
helped develop the department into what
it is today and has set an important standard
for other professors to follow.
Professor Leiland Rabaka said Karenga was
influential to him both personally and professionally.
“I studied his works when I was getting
my Ph.D., so it was a dream come true to
be able to work with him,” said Rabaka,
who teaches African American music.
Under his leadership, professor Erica Fuller
was able to have her students meet the expectations
and standards of higher education, while
incorporating her own creative teaching
techniques, Fuller said.
“Dr. Karenga has given me the flexibility
and the freedom to be creative in my classes,”
As new teachers to the black studies department
at CSULB, Fuller said that they were motivated
by the radical and unique style of Karenga’s
“Maulana means master teacher and he literally
lives up to his name,” Rabaka said.
Bede Ssensalo, who is a professor and an
advisor in the black studies department,
was chosen by the black studies department
to be the new chairman.
“We chose him because he will be a good
administrator and he will continue in the
tradition of academic excellence and
social responsibility,” Karenga said.
Presently, Karenga serves as chairman of
the President’s Task Force on Multicultural
Education and Campus Diversity, and he will
continue teaching various courses in the
department this semester.