Kwanzaa has only gained popularity since. On December 24, 1971 the New York Times ran their first article covering the festival, and recently the Postal Service released a Kwanzaa stamp. Hallmark, too, has begun to market the holiday.
Seven principles—one for each day of the feast—guide the celebration: Umoja, Kujichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba, and Imani. In English, the principles are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Today, the holiday does not serve as a replacement for religious holidays, although it may, but rather is a secular event aimed at encouraging American blacks to remember their African roots.
The founder of Kwanzaa, Ron Everett, a.k.a. Maulana Ron Karenga, stood at the forefront of the black power movement in the 1960s. Karenga distinguished himself as a “cultural nationalist” as opposed to a traditional Marxist. In 1965 Karenga founded the United Slaves Organization (US), a group that would rival the Black Panthers on the UCLA campus. The US was more radical than the Panthers, setting off quarrels between the two.
The biggest dispute between the US and the Panthers centered around the leadership of the new Afro-American Studies department at UCLA; both groups backed a different candidate. On January 17, 1969, 150 students gathered to discuss the situation. Panthers John Jerome Huggins and Alprentice Carter used the meeting to verbally attack Karenga, much to the dismay of his followers. Two US members, George and Larry Stiner, confronted Huggins and Carter in a hallway after the meeting and shot and killed them.
A May 11, 1969 letter in The Black Panther officially denounced Karenga. Wilbur Grattan, the Minister of State and Foreign Affairs of the “Republic of New Africa,” wrote to Bobby Seale: “Speaking in the position of Minister of State and Foreign Affairs for RNA, I have always felt that Ron Karenga represented a great deal less than the best interests of the Black Liberation struggle against domestic colonialism, white racism, and world-wide imperialism.”
This, however, did not faze Karenga, who continued to build and strengthen the US. Members of the US followed the “Path of Blackness” detailed in The Quotable Karenga, authored by Karenga himself. “The sevenfold path of blackness is think black, talk black, act black, create black, buy black, vote black, and live black,” the book states.
*Speaking Swahili for Kwanzaa? Instead, try learning a tongue that the ancestors of black Americans actually used. Read complete article here