Maulana Ron Karenga celebrating Kwanzaa at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Karenga is pictured directly behind the kinara candles.

Maulana Ron Karenga (born Ronald McKinley Everett on July 14, 1941, and also known as Ron Karenga and as M. Ron Karenga) is an Afro-American author, political activist, convicted felon, and college professor best known as the creator of Kwanzaa. Karenga was active in the Black Power movement in the 1960s and 1970s and founded the Black Nationalist group Us Organization which remains active to this day promoting the philosophy of Kawaida. Kawaida is a philosophy based on social and cultural change.


Dr. Karenga is the former Chairman of the Afro studies Department at California State University, Long Beach, a position he held from 1989 to 2002. He is the director of the Kawaida Institute for Pan African Studies and the author of several books, including his "Introduction to Black Studies", a comprehensive black/African studies textbook now in its third edition.

Karenga founded the Organization Us, a Cultural Black Nationalist group, in 1965. He is also known for having co-hosted, in 1984, a conference that gave rise to the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations, and in 1995, he sat on the organizing committee and authored the mission statement of the Million Man March.

Background and education

Karenga was born on a farm in Parsonsburg, Maryland, the fourteenth child and seventh son. He moved to California in the late 1950s to attend UCLA, but attended Los Angeles Community College (LACC) to establish residence. There, he became the first African-American president of the student body. After graduation from LACC, he went to University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where he received his B.A. and M.A. in political science with a specialization in african studies. (Maulana Karenga, Los Angeles: UCLA Center for African American Studies, Oral History Program, 2002)

He was awarded his first Ph.D. in 1976 from United States International University (now known as Alliant International University) for a 170-page dissertation entitled Afro-American Nationalism: Social Strategy and Struggle for Community. Later in his career, in 1994, he was awarded a second Ph.D., in social ethics, from the University of Southern California (USC), for an 803-page dissertation entitled "Maat, the moral ideal in ancient Egypt: A study in classical African ethics."

Influences of Malcolm X

Karenga was influenced in the creation of his ethos for U.S. by Malcolm X.

"Malcolm was the major African American thinker that influenced me in terms of nationalism and Pan-Africanism. As you know, towards the end, when Malcolm is expanding his concept of Islam, and of nationalism, he stresses Pan-Africanism in a particular way. And he argues that, and this is where we have the whole idea that cultural revolution and the need for revolution, he argues that we need a cultural revolution, he argues that we must return to Africa culturally and spiritually, even if we can’t go physically. And so that’s a tremendous impact on US. And US saw it, when I founded it, as the sons and daughters of Malcolm, and as an heir to his legacy." —Maulana Karenga

Maulana_Karenga.jpgMaulana Karenga Video:

  • Introduction to Black Studies, 2002, 3rd edition, University of Sankore Press
  • Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture, 1998
  • Maat, The Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt
  • Odu Ifa: The Ethical Teachings
  • Kawaida and Questions of Life and Struggle
  • Selections from the Husia
  • Book of Coming Forth By Day
  • Handbook of Black Studies co-edited with Molefi Kete Asante
  • The Million Man March/Day of Absence: A Commemorative Anthology, co-edited with Haki Madhubuti
  • Maulana Karenga: An Intellectual Portrait , Polity Source: