VOL. X, NO. 20
California State University, Long Beach October 3, 2002
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. News  
 

Vision marks black studies chairman’s legacy


By Monica Levette Clark
On-line Forty-Niner

Professor 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 clear vision.
 
“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] for life.”
 
CSULB President Robert Maxson was on hand to join in the celebration and recognition of Karenga.
 
“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 services.
 
“I have strived to be a tireless teacher of the right, the good, and the possible,” Karenga said.
 
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 studies department.
 
“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,” Fuller said.
 
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 teaching strategies.
 
“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.



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