Fifty Three Years of Service, Struggle and Institution-Building
The Organization Us was founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga and several advocates on 7 September 1965 following the Watts Revolt. Out of the fires and struggle of that period we projected a new vision of possibility thru service, struggle and institution-building. In that framework and spirit, we co-founded the Brotherhood Crusade, the Black Congress, Mafundi Institute, the Community Alert Patrol, and the Operational Unity Committee. We also co-planned Kedren Community Mental Health Center and the Watts Health Foundation as well as co-planned and named the Ujima Housing Project. We worked with schools and parent groups to establish and maintain quality education and worked with the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission in the 60's to disband gangs and improve and maintain good relations between the Black and Brown communities. We also built a youth movement, the Simba Wachanga (The Young Lions) which have become a model and inspiration for numerous rites of passage programs and youth formations nationally and internationally.
On the national level, we created Kwanzaa and introduced the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles, a critical value system for rescuing and reconstructing our lives as a people and which is used in public and private institutions thruout the country. We co-planned and co-convened all three National Black Power Conferences and built Black united fronts across the country, i.e., Black Congress in Los Angeles, PACO in Dayton, the Black Federation in San Diego and CFUN in Newark. Moreover, we were significantly involved in the founding of the discipline of Black Studies and Black Student Unions and we remain a key participant in the development of Black Studies and its Afrocentric thrust.
Also, we played a key role in establishing ancient Egyptian studies as a central field in Black Studies, producing and publishing research key to this process, especially the translation of and commentary on The Husia: Sacred Wisdom of Ancient Egypt and posing Maat and its cardinal virtues as a fundamental way of understanding and practicing ancient Egyptian ethics and spirituality. To organize scholars and enthusiasts into a professional structure, we hosted and co-chaired the First Annual Ancient Egyptian Studies Conference and were the initiating founders of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations which evolved out of this conference. We also have held critical national conferences such as the National Conference on South Africa and the International Pre-Olympic Third World Colloquium on Critical Issues.
Currently, we have established and maintain the African American Cultural Center, the Limbiko Tembo Kawaida School of African American Culture, an independent cultural school for children, the Kawaida Institute of Pan-African Studies, which sponsors an annual seminar in Social Theory & Practice where participants from all over the country attend, and the University of Sankore Press. We are also a founding board member of the Black Agenda, Los Angeles, and a founding member organization of the National Black United Front, the National African American Leadership Summit and the National Association of Kawaida Organizations. In addition, we sponsor regular forums on family and male/female relations, current news analysis and lecture-series on critical issues on the local, national and international levels, as well as a monthly Timbuktu Book Circle, the African American Music Society, the Senut Society (Sisterhood of the New African Woman) and the Senu Society (Brotherhood of the New African Man). We also hold annual African Liberation Day celebrations and forums which contribute to the maintenance of the Goree Island Holocaust Monument. And, we have helped build co-ops in San Diego and one in Los Angeles with the National Council of Negro Women.
Key also to understanding our contribution to the life, struggle and culture of Black people is the national and international programmatic influence we have had on organizational and institutional development, ideology and practice, especially in terms of independent schools, programs of rites of passage, family strengthening and school retention and Black united front efforts informed by the Kawaida concept of operational unity.
This is a brief account of our efforts, as the Sixth Principle, Kuumba (Creativity) instructs us "to do always as much as we can, in the way we can in order to leave our community more beautiful land beneficial than we inherited it." And the struggle and work, necessarily, continue.
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