By Bruce A. Dixon
December 19, 2014 - blackagendareport.com
I don't do Kwaanza, I just don't. I never have, and the very thought of it evokes some difficult memories and feelings for me. It's not the holiday's religious trappings or its Afro-syncretic fusion of Jewish menorahs, Swahili words, Kemetic, Christian and other rituals. I understand people do have a perfect human right to adopt or make up the cultural and religious practices that suit them. Rastafarianism, Voudon and Candomblé all borrow from multiple traditions, as does Islam from Judaism and Christianity, and Christianity from Judaism, Greek and Roman sources, and so on. So I have no quarrel whatsoever with those who celebrate and find value in Kwaanza.
But for many of us who took part in or were simply aware of the Black Panther Party in the late 60s and early 70s, the Kwaanza holiday is inseparable from the career and persona of its inventor, Ron Karenga, now a tenured professor in California. Back in the day, Karenga headed up an organization called US. As a tool of COINTELPRO, the federal counterintelligence program directed at movement organizations, Karenga's US organization murdered 2 leading members of the Black Panther Party in Los Angeles, Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter and John Huggins, and 2 more in San Diego, Sylvester Bell and John Savage. To my knowledge, Mr. Karenga has never expressed the faintest remorse or regret for these murders, or for his part in furthering the nefarious aims of federal and local police agencies in their assault upon the movement of those times. Karenga was later convicted along with his wife, of kidnapping and torturing two women in his own organization, a crime for which he served 4 years in prison, and one of which he still claims to be innocent. Some of Karenga's close and credible associates however, like former US chair Wesley Kabaila, maintain Karenga was not only responsible for those women's torture, but that it was part of an ongoing pattern over the years.