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Sokoni Karanja

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Information about Sokoni Karanja

Profile image of Sokoni Karanja

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Community Development Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red, Yellow
Favorite Food:
Turkey, Pie (Pecan)
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring, Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Mombasa, Kenya
Favorite Quote:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.? - Nelson Mandela

Birthplace

Born:
2/11/1940
Birth Location:
Topeka, Kansas

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Community Development Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red, Yellow
Favorite Food:
Turkey, Pie (Pecan)
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring, Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Mombasa, Kenya
Favorite Quote:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.? - Nelson Mandela

Birthplace

Born:
2/11/1940
Birth Location:
Topeka
See how Sokoni Karanja is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Founding director of Chicago’s Center for New Horizons, Sokoni Tacuma Karanja was born Lathan Johnson on January 7, 1940, in Topeka, Kansas. He was raised in the Tennessee Town section of Topeka by his father, Hubert, a worker on the Santa Fe Railroad, and his mother, Florence, a nurse. McKinley Johnson, president of the Topeka NAACP and catalyst of Brown v. the Board of Education, also mentored Karanja. Karanja attended Buchanan Elementary School, Boswell Junior High School and graduated from Topeka High School in 1958. He attended Ft. Scott Junior College, where he starred in track, and he earned his B.A. degree from Topeka’s Washburn University in 1961. He received a masters degree in psychology from the University of Denver, another in social work from Atlanta University, and another in community planning from the University of Cincinnati. He received his Ph.D. degree in urban policy from Brandeis University, where he was assistant dean of students, in 1971.

Studying for his Ph.D. in Tanzania, East Africa, Karanja was influenced by Tanzanian president Dr. Julius K. Nyrere’s value-driven educational and developmental programs. There he received his name, which means “person from the sea who is willing to share knowledge.” As an Adlai Stevenson fellow at the University of Chicago in 1971, Karanja received funding for The Center for New Horizons. The center, which has twenty-two sites and serves over 2000 families, offers many services, including early childhood education, childcare, senior care, employment programs and leadership training.

A national leader on child development issues, Karanja is a task force member of the Council for Accreditation; executive committee co-chair of the Policy Council of the African American Family Commission; and an executive committee member of the Child Welfare League of America. He also serves on the Illinois Governor’s Task Force on Human Services and the boards of Leadership for Quality Education and Voices of Illinois Children. He chairs the Woodstock Institute and is co-chair of the Grand Boulevard Federation. In 1993, Karanja received a MacArthur Fellowship. Karanja is married to professor Ayanna Karanja and is the father of five children.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Sokoni Karanja explains his name
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of Sokoni Karanja interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sokoni Karanja's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sokoni Karanja describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sokoni Karanja describes his father's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sokoni Karanja remembers meeting McKinley Burnett from his early church participation
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sokoni Karanja continues to discuss the contributions of McKinley Burnett
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sokoni Karanja discusses J. A. Rogers's published works
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sokoni Karanja shares an early memory of his brother
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sokoni Karanja shares memories from his youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sokoni Karanja recalls his school life in Kansas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sokoni Karanja remembers the plaintiffs of Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sokoni Karanja recalls his early life in Topeka, Kansas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sokoni Karanja recalls his high school experience
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sokoni Karanja recalls his undergraduate years
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sokoni Karanja discusses his various advanced degrees
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sokoni Karanja remembers activism in Atlanta, Georgia in the 1960s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sokoni Karanja reflects on the influence of the Nation of Islam in the 1960s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sokoni Karanja recalls his 1966 arrest in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Sokoni Karanja explains his graduate-level pursuits
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sokoni Karanja recalls his tenure as Assistant Dean of Students, Brandeis University, 1960s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sokoni Karanja discusses his organizing skills
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sokoni Karanja details time in Tanzania researching President Julius Nyerere
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sokoni Karanja remembers the National Memorial African Bookstore and the Black Power Conferences of the late 1960s
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sokoni Karanja discusses cultural activist Maulana Karenga
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sokoni Karanja discusses the founding and success of Centers for New Horizons in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sokoni Karanja discusses his MacArthur Foundation Fellowship
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sokoni Karanja details his experiences with police harassment
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sokoni Karanja details his future plans for Centers for New Horizons
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sokoni Karanja calls for self-sufficient black communities
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Sokoni Karanja reflects on his career as an organizer
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Sokoni Karanja discusses his family
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Sokoni Karanja considers his legacy