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Session Submission Type: Panel
Since its founding in 1965, the organization Us has had a widespread and enduring impact on Black intellectual and political culture. Through its organizing efforts, its institution-building, its philosophy, Kawaida, and its leadership under Maulana Karenga, it has played a vanguard role in major initiatives of Black Power and Black liberation over a period of 50 years. This includes not only the creation and global reach and embrace of Kwanzaa and the Nguzo Saba, but also important, leadership roles in the Black Power and Black Conference Movements, the Black Arts Movement, the Black Studies and Black Student Movements, the Black Independent Schools Movement, the Simba Wachanga (Young Lions and Rites of Passage) Movement, the ancient Egyptian studies Movement, and the development of Black liberation theology and classical and modern African ethical initiatives (Maatian and Ifa), Black United Front initiatives, the Afrocentricity initiative, the Million Man March Movement, and the Reparations Movement.
And yet in spite of its past and continuing record of achievement and contribution, Us, more than any other organization to emerge during the Black Power period, has been and remains routinely misunderstood, misrepresented, underrepresented and miscast in scholarly literature, especially the historical writings on the Black Power Movement, which tend to reduce the Movement to a preference for one group. And although there are notable exceptions to this deficient and distorted treatment and these reductive translations of Us, its leader and Kawaida philosophy, the overall problem is pervasive and persistent. This panel and these papers seek to contribute in a depthful and meaningful way to a necessary critique and corrective of this current problematic state of things and to point to a substantive legacy of valuable lessons rooted in a half-century of critical thought and transformative practice of the organization Us.
Re-engaging Kawaida Cultural Nationalism and Political Struggle in the 21st Century: Lessons from Maulana Karenga and Us - James B. Stewart, Pennsylvania State University
Women of Us and the Black Power Movement: Expanding the Concept and Practice of Liberation - Tiamoyo Karenga, Kawaida Institute of Pan-African Studies
Us, Kawaida Philosophy and the Black Liberation Movement: A Critical Reading of the Revolutionary Record - Maulana Karenga, California State University, Long Beach