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Jerome Taylor

Psychologist and Africana studies professor Jerome Taylor was born on January 26, 1940 in Waukegan, Illinois to Willie Mae Taylor and George Washington. Taylor earned his B.A. degree from the University of Denver in 1961, and his Ph.D. degree in clinical psychology from Indiana University Bloomington in 1965.

Upon graduation, Taylor received and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in child and adolescent psychology at the Menninger Clinic of Topeka, Kansas. He then served as director of the county’s Mental Health Unit from 1968 to 1969. In 1969, Taylor moved to the University of Pittsburgh, where he was named director of the Clinical Psychology Center. He went on to serve as chair of the Graduate Program in Social Psychology, and as associate professor and chair of the Department of Africana Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. In psychology, he has chaired more than twenty-five dissertation committees of African American students, a record at the University of Pittsburgh.

Taylor served as a consulting editor for the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, and has published articles in a number of scholarly journals. He has also presented his research and development activities at numerous institutions of higher learning, including Howard University, Hampton University, Florida A & M University, Princeton University, Yale University, and Oxford University.

Originally conceived in 1970, Taylor founded the Institute for the Black Family at the University of Pittsburgh and the Center for Family Excellence, Inc. in 1988, which serves Allegheny County, and went on to serve as its executive director, president and founder. The Center for Family Excellence, Inc. has received the Alfred W. Wishart Jr. Award, and its violence prevention program has been rated as the best in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Taylor’s awards include the University of Pittsburgh Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award; University of Pittsburgh Black Alumni Pioneer in Civil Rights Award; the Distinguished Research Award from the International Association of Black Psychologists; the Kujichagulia Award from the Sankofa Institute of Pittsburgh; and the Norman Dixon Award for Outstanding Black Faculty Member. Taylor is a member of the Association of Black Psychologists and the National Institute of Black Child Development.

Jerome Taylor was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 10, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.168

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/10/2014

Last Name

Taylor

Maker Category
Schools

University of Denver

Indiana University

First Name

Jerome

Birth City, State, Country

Waukegan

HM ID

TAY15

State

Illinois

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

1/26/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Pittsburgh

Country

United States

Short Description

Psychologist and africana studies professor Jerome Taylor (1940 - ) served as director of the Clinical Psychology Center, chair of the Graduate Program in Social Psychology, and associate professor and chair of the Department of Africana Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Taylor also established and served as executive director, president and founder of The Center for Family Excellence, Inc.

Employment

Menninger Clinic

University of Pittsburgh

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology

Institute for the Black Family

Center for Family Excellence, Inc.

Yosef ben-Jochannan

Africana studies professor Yosef Alfredo Antonio ben-Jochannan was born on December 31, 1918 in Ethiopia to a Puerto Rican woman, Julia Matta and an Ethiopian man, Kriston ben-Jochannan. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to St. Croix, part of the United States Virgin Islands, where he grew up as an only child. ben-Jochannan attended the Christian Stead School in St. Croix, Virgin Islands. After graduation from high school in 1936, ben-Jochannan attended the University of Puerto Rico where, in 1938, he received his B.S. degree in engineering. During that summer, ben-Jochannan’s father sent him to Ethiopia to study firsthand the ancient history of African people. He returned home and received his M.A. degree in anthropology from the University of Havana in 1939. ben-Jochannan held a Ph.D. degree in cultural anthropology from the University of Havana.

In 1940, ben-Jochannan immigrated to the United States and worked as senior draftsman for architecture firm, Emery Roth & Sons, in New York City. Seven years later, he began leading tour groups to Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan. He led the groups twice a year for several decades. ben-Jochannan’s teaching career began in 1950 at Malcolm-King Harlem College and City College of New York in New York City. In 1976, he became an adjunct professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. ben-Jochannan had worked closely with other notable Africana studies scholars including John Henrik Clarke, Edward Scobie, and Leonard Jeffries. ben-Jochannan had written and published over forty-nine books and papers including, We the Black Jews, Black Man of the Nile and His Family, and Africa: Mother of Major Western Religions.

ben-Jochannan passed away on March 19, 2015 at age 96.

Accession Number

A2006.128

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/5/2006

Last Name

Ben-Jochannan

Maker Category
Schools

University of Puerto Rico

First Name

Yosef

HM ID

BEN06

Favorite Season

Summer

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

12/31/1918

Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

Ethiopia

Favorite Food

Spanish, Caribbean Cuisine

Death Date

3/19/2015

Short Description

Africana studies professor Yosef ben-Jochannan (1918 - 2015 ) served as an adjunct professor at Cornell University. He wrote over forty-nine books and papers, including 'Black Man of the Nile and His Family,' and, 'Africa: Mother of Western Civilizations.'

Employment

Cornell University Africana Studies and Research Center

City University of New York

Malcolm-King College

Emery Roth & Sons

Favorite Color

Dark Colors

Timing Pairs
0,0:696,7:1827,26:2175,31:2523,36:3045,43:12180,250:16620,262:71900,687:72268,692:75000,717:75275,723:76540,729:76908,734:90340,936:90740,942:102924,1057:104079,1074:140923,1471:150450,1605$0,0:9525,82:22288,173:73202,500:76088,522:77570,539:84256,581:99000,653:100472,713:106796,749:181332,1306:185730,1420:212810,1635
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Yosef ben-Jochannan's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Yosef ben-Jochannan lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Yosef ben-Jochannan describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Yosef ben-Jochannan talks about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Yosef ben-Jochannan describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Yosef ben-Jochannan describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Yosef ben-Jochannan describes his high school experiences in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Yosef ben-Jochannan describes his childhood neighborhoods in Puerto Rico and St. Croix

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Yosef ben-Jochannan describes his family life in in Puerto Rico and St. Croix

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Yosef ben-Jochannan talks about his family's entrepreneurial spirit

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Yosef ben-Jochannan describes his experiences in college in Puerto Rico

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Yosef ben-Jochannan recalls moving to New York City's Harlem neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Yosef ben-Jochannan remembers working for the United Nations

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Yosef ben-Jochannan describes his career in academia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Yosef ben-Jochannan talks about his travels to Ethiopia

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Yosef ben-Jochannan recalls the controversies over his book 'We the Black Jews'

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Yosef ben-Jochannan describes his religious affiliation in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Yosef ben-Jochannan reflects upon historical events of the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Yosef ben-Jochannan recalls his trips to Ethiopia and Egypt

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Yosef ben-Jochannan talks about his Jewish faith

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Yosef ben-Jochannan describes the history of his biannual trips to Africa

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Yosef ben-Jochannan talks about his books on African civilization

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Yosef ben-Jochannan describes his book, 'The Need for a Black Bible'

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Yosef ben-Jochannan talks about the relationship between faith and knowledge

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Yosef ben-Jochannan recalls his African American academic colleagues

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Yosef ben-Jochannan describes how his values have changed

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Yosef ben-Jochannan talks about his personal moral philosophy

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Yosef ben-Jochannan describes his advice to his children and grandchildren

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Yosef ben-Jochannan reflects upon his life

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Yosef ben-Jochannan describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Yosef ben-Jochannan reflects upon the importance of history

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Yosef ben-Jochannan reflects upon his life and family

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

1$4

DATitle
Yosef ben-Jochannan talks about his family's entrepreneurial spirit
Yosef ben-Jochannan talks about his Jewish faith
Transcript
So, we were talking about your high school years where you would work for your grand aunt [Eunice Crews (ph.)] (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) She--$$--with her shipping business, right?$$My father's [Kriston ben-Jochannan] sisters, all of them had independent business. My Aunt Sophia [ph.], agriculture. She had married a man and she, they produced agriculture. That's Aunt Sophia, then my Aunt Jane [ph.], her husband, he had a estate with food. He sold food, yeah, he sold mangos, yams, potatoes, pumpkins, something, all in a productive stage. They, they never worked for people. They worked for themselves.$$And they owned their own land?$$Yeah.$$Okay, so while you were in high school, did you begin to think about what type of job you would have or (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) No.$$--or whether you would--$$No, I, you see--$$--also own land?$$You see, you were brought up to be independent.$$Um-hm.$$And always you would think of starting your own project, and you'd be--you were gonna be big, you were gonna make it.$$So what was your project that you began to--$$Nothing, just I'm going to be--I'm going to go to college, and I'm gonna come back from college. I was going to be a lawyer, but I started to study engineering without my father's knowledge. And one, for instance, when my father was invited to my graduation, he was happy. And when I was graduating, he was happy. But then when he came and found that I took anthropology, and then that even though I was graduated, he was very unhappy because the boy always do as the father does. You're gonna be like your father.$We teach what pleases us. We don't teach necessarily what's truth. But me, I am more interested in truth than what you got to say. And it was a hard thing to distinguish because I find that I have had better education, going into the Hebrew community, the Hasidic in Brooklyn [New York], when I would go be with them, just ordinary folks, speaking to them. They had greater insight to my mind than men with big lofty degrees.$$Do you speak Hebrew?$$Yeah, but, you see, I speak a lot of things in books. And I look at them, and I ask, what is it about? I speak of some people with labor and people, and there's more honesty from them. I am asking what it really is. Who is a God, for instance? Do we mean what, Jehovah, Jesus Christ, Allah, what makes one better than the other? Isn't Allah the same as you say Jehovah or you say Jesus the Christ? How one come better than the other? I got a friend upstairs. He's Muslim. He's a member of Muhammad church--synagogue, one of my closest friends. He buys everything for me. But I say, I don't eat all that thing because it's not kosher, because it's got pork, I find that a piece of pigtail may be better than a piece of beef. Is this a pigtail, you know, it's hard to understand. My way isn't good. It's too easy because I found honesty in people. You know, for instance, you are here with this brother. I don't think to ask you what you believe. You would tell me because you're gonna tell me the truth. So tell me what--I don't care. I'm, for instance, you've got on a cross. Does it make you bad or good? Nah. Don't make you bad or good. You like the cross.

Robert C. Johnson, Jr.

Africana studies professor, lawyer and playwright Robert C. Johnson was born in Summit, Tennessee near Chattanooga on May 13, 1948 and moved with his family to Boston, Massachusetts at age thirteen. After struggling in Boston public schools, he transferred to the prestigious private school, the Commonwealth School. There he excelled under the mentorship of Charles E, Merrill, Jr., the founder and headmaster. At Commonwealth, Johnson participated in extracurricular activities and began writing plays. He received a B.A. degree in political studies from Bowdoin College in 1971 and a Watson Fellowship to write plays and study African American immigrants in East Africa. Johnson earned a M.A. degree in Africana Studies in 1975 and his J.D. degree in 1977, both from Cornell University. As a law student, he worked on the defense team for prisoners implicated in the Attica Prison riots and he later, developed an educational program at Auburn Prison in Auburn, New York.

From 1977 to 1978, Johnson worked as an affirmative action officer for the Massachusetts Board of Community Colleges and the University of Massachusetts at Boston. He left affirmative action work to practice employment and criminal law with his law partner, Eddie Jenkins, Jr. After a heart attack in 1992, Johnson stepped back from his law practice and became an Africana Studies professor at University of Massachusetts at Boston. Johnson has published extensively in the field of African American history. Most notable among his books are Why Blacks Left America for Africa: Interviews with Black Expatriates, 1971-1999 and Nantucket's People of Color: Essays on History, Politics, and Community. As a playwright Johnson has documented the African American experience with dramas such as Scag, Stop and Frisk and Mama G

Johnson has been involved with many community projects and philanthropic organizations including the “The African Diaspora Program” an after school development program for African American youth in Boston and the United South End Settlements' Harriet Tubman House. Johnson has been married to Amy Merrill, the daughter of his mentor Charles E. Merrill, Jr., for over ten years. He has two children, Gary Weldon and Amika Ama.

Robert C. Johnson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 7, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.068

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/7/2006

Last Name

Johnson

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

C.

Schools

Commonwealth School

Bowdoin College

Cornell University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Summit

HM ID

JOH27

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Vermont; Treasure Beach, Jamaica

Favorite Quote

The Power Of The People Is Greater Than The Man’s Technology

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

5/13/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Boston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Playwright, africana studies professor, and lawyer Robert C. Johnson, Jr. (1948 - ) has written several books and plays documenting the experience of the African diaspora as well as advocating for social change for African Americans.

Employment

University of Massachusetts, Boston

Bentley University

Massachusetts Regional Board of Community College

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:3582,35:10686,146:46417,651:68785,923:123152,1509:138428,1771:139352,1815:140696,1852:141452,1914:158737,2109:159346,2119:170140,2222:171840,2251:190594,2615:197522,2713:210284,2919:211175,2936:217088,3116:221624,3196:227512,3294:239932,3502:240946,3558:254362,3850:267378,4052:269380,4058$0,0:1460,10:20050,303:20715,312:23755,350:24515,360:25085,367:35358,474:97396,1188:97900,1193:125430,1516:143850,1841:167680,2184
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert C. Johnson, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his middle name

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. recalls moving from Summit, Tennessee to Boston, Massachusetts with his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes his early childhood in Summit, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes annual family reunions

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about researching his mother's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about researching his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. recalls his earliest childhood memories of Summit, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Summit, Tennessee and Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his year at the Dwight School in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes his years at the Charles E. Mackey School in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about English High School of Boston, Massachusetts, and entering the ABC (A Better Chance) program

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes attending the Commonwealth School in Boston, Massachusetts, through the ABC (A Better Chance) Program

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his first play, 'Coffee and Sour Cream'

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about riots in Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts after the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his decision to attend Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes his years at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes his 1971 trip to East Africa through the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. recounts his decision to attend law school at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes his activism at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about working on the 1971 Attica Prison rioters' legal defense with W. Haywood Burns and HistoryMaker Howard Moore, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes working at the Massachusetts Board of Regional Community Colleges as an affirmative action officer

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about entering private practice with HistoryMaker Eddie Jenkins, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes his community and public service with HistoryMakers Eddie Jenkins, Jr. and Charles "Chuck" Turner

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his mentally-ill son's 1991 arrest, which inspired his play 'Stop and Frisk'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his plays

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his photography, vintage car restoration, and trips to Vermont and Treasure Beach, Jamaica

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes teaching at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his book, 'Shona,' and his work to exonerate Ndume Olatushani in Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his published works

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes working with the University of Massachusetts Boston's Africana Studies department

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. reflects upon his interracial marriage to playwright Amy Merrill

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community and about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

1$3

DATitle
Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes working at the Massachusetts Board of Regional Community Colleges as an affirmative action officer
Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his published works
Transcript
So professor you were awarded your Doctor of Laws [J.D.] degree from Cornell Law School [Ithaca, New York] in 1977?$$Right.$$And what came next?$$Well I, I got my master's in 1975, so I got the master's in '75 [1975], and '77 [1977], I got the law degree and then I moved to Boston [Massachusetts]. We moved to Mattapan in Boston, we bought a house there for $28 thousand, nice old Victorian house, huge yard, about fifteen fruit trees, and started to raise a family.$$Um-hm.$$In, in terms of--I was married to Renda [ph.] Johnson, or Renda Harriston [ph.] was her maiden name and we had two children, my daughter was born in Ithaca, New York, Anika Johnson, so, two kids, Gary and Anika.$$Um-hm.$$One of the first things I had to decide is their schooling and I did not want them to go to the public schools, 'cause the public schools were terrible and I saw what education had meant for me and so I sent them to private schools. My daughter went to the Advent School [Boston, Massachusetts] and then the Beaver Country Day School [Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts] and then my son went to Chestnut Hill School [Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts], and I forgot the other school he went to.$$Um-hm.$$And then I started to work at Massachusetts Board of Regional Community Colleges as affirmative action officer, and, and I wanted a job that would have an influence in the black community and bring about some kinda social change. So, I met Alan Jackson, I knew Alan Jackson, Alan Jackson put me in touch with Betty Johnson, Betty Johnson was on the board of directors for the Mass Board of Regional Community Colleges [Massachusetts Board of Regional Community Colleges], there was a brother who was chairman of the board, I can't recall his name, Pat--Patrick Jones from Lena Park [Boston, Massachusetts], he was on the board, he was head of the committee, personnel committee but he was head of the affirmative action committee. So I met with Betty, and Betty said, "Robert, with your legal background, we can do some really good stuff in the community colleges," so I said fine, so I came and, and worked there which was great because we set up the policies for the community colleges, and the policies were very explicit. Everyone, every professional position had to be signed off in the, in the central office, I reviewed all--everything that came through and I remember in Massasoit Community College--no, at Mass Bay Community College [Massachusetts Bay Community College, Wellesley, Framingham, and Ashland, Massachusetts] they were looking for a dean of faculty and there was a brother who had applied, he was from some community college in New Jersey and they didn't recommend him, they recommended a white person, now we'd, we'd setup these procedures where they had to set forth the reason why a black person was not give- being recommended. So, the reason they put was that he couldn't communicate well, so I went to Betty, I called Betty, I said, "Betty, you know I got this thing here, you know this position and there's a brother who applied and, you know, they say he can't communicate, I said I wanna hold it up." And she said, "Yeah Bob, I'm with you, you know tell the president that, you know you're gonna hold it up." So we held it up and we said to them, brought 'em in the president of the college came into the central office, and we said, "What's this here, you know, about this guy can't communicate?" I mean here's a guy who was the dean of the faculty and of a school in New Jersey.$$Um-hm.$$He did well, all of his references are well, no problem with communication, he has a Ph.D. [degree], from a major university, he had to defend his dissertation, he's been teaching, excellent teaching records, and you're saying he can't communicate. So, we said, we're not gonna sign off on it.$$Um-hm.$$And the president told the president of the college you better go back and bring the brother in, which is what he did, so we did that kinda stuff--$$Um-hm.$$--As a result, we integrated the community colleges--$$Um-hm.$$--In the state.$So, I did that in my sabbatical, and of course I did a lot of research on my family history while I was down there [Tennessee] and then came back to Boston [Massachusetts] and then went up for my promotion to full professor. When I went up for full professor, I had published two additional books, one book was called 'Race, Law and Public Policy,' first and second edition, and then I had another book called, 'Returning Home: a Century of African-American Repatriation,' that one was with publishers, I had a contract and, and was subsequently published in November of last year. Then I have a book that's with University of the West Indies Press [University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica], called 'Fighting for Africa,' and that's based about interviews I did with Dudley Thompson, who is a Jamaican attorney, whose is now close to ninety, but he was the lawyer for Jomo Kenyatta, when, in the Mau Mau Rebellion, and his descriptions of going to visit Jomo up in the Hinterlands of Kenya, and seeing him in a cell that's underground and just hearing his voice it's just amazing, I mean, it's just--firsthand interviews that I did with Dudley Thompson, so he represented Jomo, he also represented Julius Nyerere with the founding of Tanzania, he drafted the constitution for Julius Nyerere, so and then the other person is Bill Sutherland, I interviewed Bill Sutherland who is the brother of Murial [S.] Snowden, and he's lived in Africa for like thirty-five years or so.$$I've met, I've met him.$$Yeah. So that book hopefully will come out within the next year, this is University of West Indies Press.$$Um-hm.$$And then I have one other book--$$Go head.$$--That's ca--supposed to come out in June and that's the one where I'm editing 'Nantucket's People of Color,' and that was a result of the James Bradford Ames Fellowship, the program and Bob Hayden [Robert C. Hayden] was our first James Bradford Ames scholar and the scholars go to Nantucket [Massachusetts] and do research on the history of blacks and Cape Verdeans, so we have ten essays in the book, I wrote the introduction and I have an article in there on Patience Cooper, and that's coming out this June [2006].

Maulana Karenga

Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor of Africana Studies at California State University—Long Beach, was the holder of two Ph.D.’s. Karenga completed his degrees in political science at the United States International University, and in social ethics at the University of Southern California, before being awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Durban, South Africa.

Karenga’s fields of teaching and research within Africana/Black Studies included: ancient Egyptian (Maatian) ethics; ancient Yoruba (Ifa) ethics; Africana/Black Studies theory and history; Africana/Black (continental and diasporan) philosophy; African American intellectual history; ethnic relations; and the socio-ethical thought of Malcolm X.

A prolific writer, Karenga authored numerous scholarly articles and books, including: Maat, The Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt: A Study in Classical African Ethics; Selections From The Husia: Sacred Wisdom of Ancient Egypt; The Book of Coming Forth By Day: The Ethics of the Declarations of Innocence; Odu Ifa: The Ethical Teachings; and Introduction to Black Studies. Karenga was also one of the creators of the pan-African cultural holiday Kwanzaa, and the Nguzo Saba (The Seven Principles), as well as the author of the authoritative text, Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture.

An activist-scholar of national and international recognition, Karenga played a major role in Black political and intellectual culture from the 1960s on. Karenga has, along with The Organization Us, been instrumental in such movements as Black Power, Black Arts, Black Studies, the Independent Schools, Afrocentricity, Ancient Egyptian Studies, the Million Person Marches, and the Reparations Movement. In addition to his activism, Karenga lectured on the life and struggle of African peoples on major campuses in the United States, Africa, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, Trinidad, Great Britain, and Canada. Karenga served as the chair of The Organization Us; the National Association of Kawaida Organizations; and as the executive director of the African American Cultural Center and the Kawaida Institute of Pan-African Studies.

Karenga has received numerous awards for scholarship and service, including: the C.L.R. James Award for Outstanding Publication of Scholarly Works that Advance the Discipline of Africana and Black Studies; the National Leadership Award for Outstanding Scholarly Achievements in Black Studies from the National Council for Black Studies; the President’s Award for Scholarship and Service in the Development of Black Studies from the African Heritage Studies Association; the Diop Exemplary Leadership Award from the Department of African American Studies-Temple University; the Richard Allen Living Legend Award from the African Methodist Episcopal Church; and the Pioneer Award from the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund.

Accession Number

A2002.207

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/18/2002

Last Name

Karenga

Maker Category
Schools

Salisbury High School

Los Angeles City College

University of California, Los Angeles

United States International University

First Name

Maulana

Birth City, State, Country

Parsonburg

HM ID

KAR01

Favorite Season

None

Sponsor

Knight Foundation

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

It is a good day to struggle and that we must remember the teachers of the Ottoeva (ph.), that we are all divinely chosen to bring into the world and not let any good be lost.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

7/14/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Social activist, africana studies professor, and author Maulana Karenga (1941 - ) is the founder of Kwanzaa, in addition to having a career as a prolific writer and influential figure in a number of Afrocentric movements.

Employment

Mafundi Institute (Los Angeles, California)

California State University

African American Cultural Center

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Black, Green, Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Maulana Karenga interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Maulana Karenga lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Maulana Karenga recalls his parents' backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Maulana Karenga explains his limitations with oral history

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Maulana Karenga remembers his father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Maulana Karenga describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Maulana Karenga shares childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Maulana Karenga shares childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Maulana Karenga recalls his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Maulana Karenga recounts his family's transition to California

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Maulana Karenga remembers his college years

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Maulana Karenga details how he became a black nationalist

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Maulana Karenga lists his intellectual influences

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Maulana Karenga describes his involvement in The Organization Us

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Maulana Karenga remembers Malcolm X

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Maulana Karenga explains why he learned Swahili

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Maulana Karenga recalls his activism in the early 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Maulana Karenga details his philosophy of Kawaida

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Maulana Karenga details how he created Kwanzaa

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Maulana Karenga responds to criticism of Kwanzaa

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Maulana Karenga discusses the problems posed by the recent creation of Kwanzaa

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Maulana Karenga explains how Kwanzaa became seven letters

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Maulana Karenga recalls his involvement in the Black Power Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Maulana Karenga details the rift between Us and the Black Panther Party (part 1)

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Maulana Karenga details the rift between Us and the Black Panther Party (part 2)

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Maulana Karenga details the rift between Us and the Black Panther Party (part 3)

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Maulana Karenga details the rift between Us and the Black Panther Party (part 4)

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Maulana Karenga recalls his incarceration

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Maulana Karenga recounts surveillance by the FBI's COINTEL program

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Maulana Karenga remembers FESTAC 1977

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Maulana Karenga recalls the founding of ASCAC

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Maulana Karenga discusses redressing the distorted view of ancient Egypt through ASCAC

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Maulana Karenga recalls the founding of ASCAC

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Maulana Karenga explains the philosophical underpinnings of ASCAC

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Maulana Karenga recounts building the National Black United Front

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Maulana Karenga remembers helping to create the Million Man March

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Maulana Karenga responds to criticisms of the Million Man March

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Maulana Karenga discusses his involvement with the African American Leadership Retreat

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Maulana Karenga discusses the impact of the African American Leadership Retreat Family

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Maulana Karenga describes his current projects

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Maulana Karenga shares the importance of African philosophy

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Maulana Karenga recalls his parents' reaction to his career

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Maulana Karenga considers his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

3$1

DATitle
Maulana Karenga remembers Malcolm X
Maulana Karenga details how he created Kwanzaa
Transcript
Now, so Malcolm [X] was very important to us as, as, as a teacher, as a mentor. I met Malcolm in '62 [1962], and the first time I met him we, he took me home afterward. We went and talked. We--it's a restaurant, it used to be a restaurant on 51st and Main, a Muslim restaurant. And you--after the mosque, you would go over there and eat bean pie and talk abstract. So Malcolm welcomed us. We were right from UCLA [University of California Los Angeles]. He welcomed us back there. We talked a long time, and every time since when he would come in town, I would try to get there. And, in fact, when there was a crisis, Malcolm asked me to be the emcee for a memorial for, Ronald 26X [sic, Stokes] actually, that was shot by the police. I don't know if you remember that. But--$$Is that the scene with him, even in the movie shows the picture of the man, the poster, the famous picture of Malcolm showing a poster of the body was full of holes--(simultaneous)?$$Yes, shot, that was it. Yes, that was the major police shooting of the Muslims at that time. And I learned a lot from Malcolm, and I always enjoyed his company and the brilliance of his intellect. See, I'm, I'm writing now a book on his social, ethical thought because people usually think of ethics, they think King [Martin Luther King, Jr.]. And they think Christianity. But Islam has ethics and certainly Malcolm had an ethical philosophy, and I, I think he has a rich legacy that's still to be taped. And I challenge all those people who have written books on him, who seem to be janitors of history, looking for stench and stain, and reductively translating his message. Mine is to speak his special culture, true, and to show the brilliance of his mind and incisiveness of his analysis. That's what I want to show. The rest, FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation], [J. Edgar] Hoover, got data for all this, you know. It's just like writing a book on King and trying to talk about King, what he didn't do and all that. The question is, what does he mean to us? You see, and one of the problems I find with modern intellectuals, black intellectuals, is that they've so limited themselves to deconstructionism, that mainly what they do is janitorial service and look stench and stain, peeling paint and criticize and condemn things, but they have no capacity for conceptual generation, that is, the production of concepts to enrich and expand our lives, to give us the capacity to understand ourselves and assert ourselves in dignity-affirming ways in the world. That's a whole different kind of project.$I wanted to ask you about the development of Kwanzaa out of Kawaida theory.$$Yes, right. So first, I'm, I'm at UCLA [University of California Los Angeles] in '64 [1964], just got my Master's. I decided to go on to get my doctorate. I'm studying on my doctorate. The revolt comes. I quit and join the Movement, and I create my organization. And I fur--[The Organization] Us, and I further developed my philosophy, Kawaida. And I call it Kawaida because I believe that culture and tradition are the foundation for our life, our future and our effective assertion in the world. I think culture is a fundamental way of being human in the world. And so at the heart of Kawaida philosophy is this argument that we must constantly dialogue with African culture, asking it questions and seeking from it, answers, to the fundamental issues of human life. How do you create a just and good society? What does it mean to be human? What is our moral obligation to each other? What is our rightful relationship with the environment? Those questions, we usually don't ask Africa those questions. We usually ask Europe or Israel. We ask Greece or Israel or some other culture, but we don't ask Africa. You know, we don't--we just don't ask Africa what does it mean to be human? What is my relationship with God or anything like that? What is, what is that? So, I wanted to do that. And so I began to draw from the best of African culture, synthesize it and put into this philosophy called Kawaida. And it's subconsciously called Kawaida, a Swahili word, it means tradition because that is the core of it, tradition and reason.$$Can you spell Kawaida for us (simultaneous)?$$K-A-W-A-I-D-A, Kawaida, okay. Now, I've already--as I said earlier, I've already decided to use Swahili to do this, okay, because the language itself contains philosophical concepts I need to stress the communitarian value system I'm going to create with the seven principles, Nguzo Saba. So I'm in the philosophy, and I'm asking how can I teach this philosophy in a simple, but profound way? How can I produce concepts that would create both a discourse and a practice of being African? Okay. And I decide I, I need a value system that is manageable. And I decide the way I can do that is study African cultures, and I studied African culture, and I asked myself, what is the social cement and the social glue that holds these cultures together and give them their humanistic, moral content? And I believe that it is their communitarian values, values that stress family, community and culture. And so the question is how do I choose these values? Okay. I choose ten, twenty, thirty? Well I choose seven, and I choose seven for several reasons, because first of all, the spiritual significance of seven in African culture, all the way back to ancient Egypt. Seven is like a sacred number, okay. Second--so it has special value as well. Then the second thing I do is manageable. People would be saying, why didn't you do ten? Well, try to get seven, you know, then we can talk about the other. If we could just do some of these some of the time, a whole new change would come in our life. So, my argument was let's do these seven. So now, I have to choose seven values, communitarian values that form a system of thought and practice. And I have to choose them according to what I think is most important, not just now, but of enduring importance. And that's a very important thing. I can't be a faddist. I can't choose values like Green Power, I mean that goes out, you see. I have to choose that which endures in the midst of that which is overthrown, as the Husia said. And so what I do, is I choose what is enduring values, and I organized them such--there are seven values, Nguzo Saba. First of all, look at the name, Nguzo means "pillar," okay. It's both a pillar as a strength in the community and as a protection for the community, okay. Okay, so Nguzo is pillar, and it means principle. And Saba, of course, means seven. So I start with Umoja, unity. Why? Because unity in the family community, nation and race. Why unity? Because without unity, you can't even start a project. I mean the fundamental requirement for a people to actually understand and realize itself and assert itself successfully is unity. So Umoja, unity, is the first principle. Second principle is Kujichagulia, to define ourselves, create for ourselves, name ourselves, be up for ourselves. That's a very important thing, to speak our own special culture truth, make our own unique contribution to the forward flow of human history. Third, Ujima, collective work and responsibility, to make our sisters and brothers' problem our problem and to solve them collectively. We, we have to see ourselves as responsible for each other, and we have to, together, build the world we want and deserve to live in, okay. Ujamaa, cooperative economics, shared work and shared wealth. People want to do the wealth, shared wealth, but a lot of times they don't want to do the shared work. So we say to build our sisters and brothers stores, shops and other business and to profit from them together, just to tell people, you have to work together and you have to get profit together. That's a very important discourse in the '60s [1960s], whether we go capitalist or whether we go communal. Okay, we say we have to go communitarian. We have to do communalism. We have to do cooperative economics. The cooperative economics comes from the word Ujamaa, and jamaa, the root word of jamaa is--Ujamaa, jamaa, which means "family" or "kinship." And so what it says is we must do economics as if we are related, related not just as a human, but related to the environment too. That's a whole different discourse. So what I'm doing is giving categories. This has been Kawaida's main strength and Us organization's main strength, it's creating a series of categories, philosophical concepts that encourage a discourse about African life in a way it has never been done before. That's what we did with Kwanzaa. That's what we did with the Husia. That's what we did with Odo Ifa. That's what we did with Operation Unity, etc. Okay, now, next, Nia, purpose, the collective vocation of rebuilding our nation so that we can restore our people to their traditional greatness, okay, to bring good into the world and to give black people both permanence and power in the world. And then the sixth principle, Kuumba, creativity, to do all we can in the way we can to leave our community and this world better and more beautiful than when we inherited it. And finally, Imani, faith, faith in ourselves, our leaders, our teachers and the righteousness and victory of our call and faith that through hard work, long struggle and a whole lot of love and understanding, we can again step back on the stage of human history subconsciously as a free, proud and productive people, speak our own special culture truth to the world and make our own unique contribution to the forward flow of human history. Now, the question is, how do I build an institutional process to, in fact, teach those? I mean I could just put them out there, but it doesn't work. So I think of, what about a holiday? Again, I'm a scholar. I have to do research. I'm very concerned with culture and with authenticity. I can't just--they just don't drop from the sky for me. I have to study them from a social context, from a historical context. So I studied, I decided that I would use the oldest celebrations, and that way, I thought they would be more authentic--authentic, than one that was later created and might be influenced by Europe. So what are the oldest celebrations? They're agriculture celebrations. It's the same way when we go to Egypt. It's before the European comes, before there is this question of influence, you see, back then. And so I studied first fruits celebrations, harvest celebrations, okay. And I'm very struck by umKhosi, a Zulu celebration, which is seven days, and happens at the end of the year. Part of it is in the beginning, part of it at the end. So I straddled Kwanzaa the same way. Most of it is in the first of the year, and then there's one day in the new year. And that day I set aside for meditation, January first. So I put Kwanzaa December the twenty-sixth to January first, and it duplicates the umKhosi celebration of the Zulus, okay. I don't even tell everybody all this. I'm, I just do this, okay, because I'm, I'm, I'm saying, this is my culture. I, I can do it. I study also the Yoruba and the other festivals, and always, there are five fundamental activities that they engage in regardless. The first is that, the holidays are a time of ingathering of the people, a time when the people come from all over to reaffirm the bonds between them. Second, is the time for thanksgiving for the Creator and the creation, okay, a time not only to give thanks for a good harvest, but to recommit ourselves to the protection and preservation of the earth which provided the harvest. Third, is the time for commemoration of the past, time to raise and praise the names of those who gave their lives so that we could live fuller and more meaningful one; time to remember Fannie Lou Hamer's teaching that there are two things we all should care about, "Never to forget where we came and always praise the bridges that carried us over." Fourth, is a time for the reaffirmation and recommitment, a time for recommitment rather; time for recommitment to our highest culture values, values that stress and strengthen family, community and culture, speaking truth, doing justice; honor thy elders and the ancestors; cherishing and challenging our children, caring for the vulnerable among us, having a rightful relationship with the environment, constantly struggling against evil and always raising up, praising and pursuing the good, but especially time for recommitment to the seven principles, Umoja, unity, Kujichagulia, self-determination, Ujima, collective work and responsibility, Ujamaa, cooperative economics, Nia, purpose, Kuuma, creativity, Imani, faith. And finally, the fifth activity of Kwanzaa after ingathering of the people, a special reverence for the Creator and the creation, commemoration of the past, recommitment to our highest culture values, is celebration of the good, the good of family, community and culture, the good of life, the good of the environment, the good of our history, the good of our awesome march through human history, the good of existence itself, just the good of the world. And so we celebrate that, I mean, the good of the harvest, it used to be, but the good, above all, of the ongoing challenge to constantly bring good into the world and not let any good be lost. Now, people often say, why did you create Kwanzaa? I mean I think I've said, but I've--in the context of my discussion, but I created it for three basic reasons, one to reaffirm our Africanist, to reaffirm the fact that we're an African people. When you're in the process, you know, Kwanzaa is, is created in the context of the Black Freedom Movement. The Black Freedom Movement is from ninety--1955 to 1975, and there are two sections to it. From 1955 to 1965 is the black, is the Civil Rights Movement, and from 1965 to 1975 is the Black Power Movement, and I'm more in the Black Power Movement. In the Black Power Movement, even though I participated in the Civil Rights Movement, in the Black Power Movement, one of the core elements is the return to Africa, to step back to black. In fact, we used to say in Us, the first step forward is a step back to your own culture and your own self, okay. And so what we argued is that we have to reaffirm that we're African. We must say we are African people, okay. So Kwanzaa gives us a time to do that. And if you look at it, more than any other time in the, in the, in the year, black people talk about Africa, even corporate types wear African clothes, want their kinara and their Kwanzaa set to be aside other end-of-the-year celebration sets, right? They talk it. Okay, we've got a discourse, a conversation around Africa. Second, I created it to give us a time as African people all over the world to come together, reaffirm the bonds between us and meditate on the meaning and awesome responsibility of being African in the world. And if you look at it all around the world, you see that that has happened. Twenty-eight million people celebrate this holiday on every continent in the world, throughout the world African community. And finally, of course, as I said, early, I created Kwanzaa in order to introduce and reaffirm the importance of community and values, especially, Nguzo Saba, the seven principles.