Social Media Users Question The Validity Of Kwanzaa's Founder

Kwanzaa was established as a seven-day holiday for black families to celebrate, but the creator's criminal past leaves behind some questions.

On the first day of Kwanzaa, it is expected of observers to celebrate the week-long cultural holiday honoring African-American culture.

Many families who celebrate the seven days of Kwanzaa begin on Dec. 26, with the lighting of a candle on a kinara, or candle holder, for each principle. The first one is Umoja, which means "unity" in Swahili. However, Twitter followers didn’t share the same unity sentiment because the creator of the holiday, Maulana Karenga, is a convicted torturer, according to Time magazine.

Born Ron Everett, Karenga changed his name and was one of Malcolm X’s disciples. He was also a member of the “Circle of Seven,” a discussion group organized by Malcolm X’s cousin, Hakim Jamal.

Karenga created Kwanzaa, but as the group’s following increased, allegations began to mount. In 1971, Karenga was arrested and found guilty of torturing two women, according to Time. 

Twitter users had varying reactions to that.

According to Newsweek, the traditional Kwanzaa greeting is the Swahili phrase, “Habari Gani,” which means “what’s the news” in English. In early preparation of the holiday, observers usually decorate their houses with fruits, Kwanzaa flags and a kinara. On the first night, the black candle is lit.

Created during the civil rights movement, Kwanzaa was established as a pan-African celebration in 1966 by Karenga, a professor of Africana studies at the California State University in Long Beach. It combines traditions from Continental African and African-American cultures to give black people something that they didn’t have at the time — a holiday of their own.

kwanzaa, maulana karenga,

But is it morally right to continue to celebrate this holiday if it was created by a man who committed sexual crimes? Surely, this question should also be presented to President Donald Trump since he has a lot of sexual abuse allegations against him.

This really is something to consider. It's the message that matters, but the messenger is also very important, and Karenga was found guilty of the heinous acts he committed against the women he thought were “poisoning” him.

Banner/Thumbnail Credit: Flickr, Ed and Eddie Body

View Comments

Recommended For You