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VOL. IX, NO. 94
CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, LONG BEACH
April 2 , 2002


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news

Karenga fights the power for minorities


By Dwight Flenniken III
On-line Forty-Niner

Maulana Karenga 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 the world.
 
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 Education Fund.
 
"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 at CSULB.

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