Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson: Kwanzaa -- "Racist Holiday from Hell"

Roundup: Talking About History

Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson, at frontpagemag.com (12-29-04):

[Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson is the Founder and President of BOND (the Brotherhood Organization of A New Destiny). He is also the author of the book “SCAM: How the Black Leadership Exploits Black America.”]

While public officials, schools, and the ACLU worked overtime this year to ban every vestige of Christmas from the public square, the recently invented holiday known as Kwanzaa is gaining in popularity among black Americans. These occurrences are not unrelated.

In an earlier time, blacks held a strong faith in God. But over the past 40 years, the black community has largely let God slip away. Sure the community has maintained the outer trappings of religion, but the solid morality at its core is nearly gone.

Enter a God-hating black racist named Ron Karenga. Born Ron Everett on a poultry farm in Maryland, Everett invented Kwanzaa in 1966, based on an African harvest festival (though it takes place during the Winter Solstice!), and celebrating the first Kwanzaa with his family and friends.

Calling himself “Maulana” (Swahili for “Master Teacher”), Karenga became a black nationalist at UCLA, and formed his group, the United Slaves (US) for the purpose of igniting a “cultural revolution” among American blacks. US members followed Karenga’s “Path of Blackness,” which is detailed in his Quotable Karenga: “The sevenfold path of blackness is think black, talk black, act black, create black, buy black, vote black, and live black.”

The United Slaves had violent confrontations with the Black Panthers on campus, and were actually considered more radical than the Panthers.

The biggest dispute between the United Slaves and the Panthers was for the leadership of the new African Studies Department at UCLA, with each group backing a different candidate. Panthers John Jerome Huggins and Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter verbally attacked Karenga at the meeting, which infuriated Karenga’s followers. After the meeting ended, two United Slaves members, George and Larry Stiner, reportedly confronted Huggins and Carter in a hallway, shooting and killing them.

Incidentally, on March 31, 1974, it was discovered that both Stiner brothers had escaped from the family visiting area in San Quentin State Prison. Larry Stiner turned himself into the FBI in Caracas, Venezuela, on December 13, 1994. He remains in custody at San Quentin. But George Stiner remains at large and his whereabouts remain unknown. He is currently on California’s 10 Most Wanted List.

The shooting at UCLA apparently caused Karenga to become extremely suspicious. On May 9, 1970, Karenga and two others tortured two women who Karenga believed had tried to poison him by placing “crystals” in his food and water.

The Los Angeles Times described the events: “Deborah Jones, who once was given the title of an African queen, said she and Gail Davis were whipped with an electric cord and beaten with a karate baton after being ordered to remove their clothes at gunpoint. She testified that a hot soldering iron was placed in Miss Davis’ mouth and placed against Miss Davis’ face and that one of her own big toes was tightened in a vice. Karenga, head of US, also put detergent and running hoses in their mouths, she said.”

Karenga was sentenced to one-to-ten years in prison on counts of felonious assault and false imprisonment. At his trial, the question arose as to Karenga’s sanity. The psychiatrist’s report stated: “This man now represents a picture which can be considered both paranoid and schizophrenic with hallucinations and illusions, inappropriate affect, disorganization, and impaired contact with the environment.” The psychiatrist reportedly observed that Karenga talked to his blanket and imaginary persons, and he believed he’d been attacked by dive-bombers.

Eight years later, California State University Long Beach named Karenga the head of its Black Studies Department. By this time, Karenga had “repented” of his black nationalism and had become just a harmless garden variety Marxist. This must be our esteemed university system’s idea of repentance!

Karenga’s Kwanzaa celebration consists of seven “principles.” They are Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination – code for “buy black”), Ujima (collective work and responsibility – groupthink), Ujamaa (cooperative economics – socialism), Nia (purpose) Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith – in man, not God).

To provide a symbol of his seven “principles,” Karenga used the menorah from Judaism with Kwanzaa’s colors (red, black, and green), and re-named it the "kinara."

Karenga also created a Kwanzaa flag that consists of black, green, and red. The Kwanzaa Information Center states the color red represents blood: “We lost our land through blood; and we cannot gain it except through blood. We must redeem our lives through the blood. Without the shedding of blood there can be no redemption of this race.” The Kwanzaa Information Center also notes that this flag “has become a symbol of devotion for African people in America to establish an independent African nation on the North American Continent.” (Emphasis added.)

When once asked why he designed Kwanzaa to take place around Christmas, Karenga explained, “People think it’s African, but it’s not. I came up with Kwanzaa because black people wouldn’t celebrate it if they knew it was American. Also, I put it around Christmas because I knew that’s when a lot of bloods would be partying.”

Karenga has explained that his creation of Kwanzaa was motivated in part by hostility toward both Christianity and Judaism. Writing in his 1980 book Kawaida Theory, he claimed that Western religion “denies and diminishes human worth, capacity, potential and achievement. In Christian and Jewish mythology, humans are born in sin, cursed with mythical ancestors who’ve sinned and brought the wrath of an angry God on every generation’s head.” He clearly opposed belief in God and other “spooks who threaten us if we don’t worship them and demand we turn over our destiny and daily lives.”

Through ignorance or racism, growing numbers of black Christians are either celebrating Kwanzaa or incorporating it into their Christmas celebrations. Now many preachers are incorporating Kwanzaa into their messages. This is a horrible mistake.

First of all, as we’ve seen, the whole holiday is made up! You won’t find its roots in Africa or anywhere else. Second, Kwanzaa’s “principles” are straight from Hell. Third, and most importantly, Christians who celebrate or incorporate Kwanzaa are moving their attention away from Christmas, the birth of our Savior, and the simple message of salvation: love for God through his Son. To add or subtract from that message is evil.

In recent years Kwanzaa has become increasingly popular and mainstream. President Bill Clinton commemorated Kwanzaa, stating that Kwanzaa’s seven principles “ring true not only for African-Americans, but also for all Americans…bring[ing] new purpose to our daily lives.” In 2002, President Bush, though a devout Christian, also commemorated Kwanzaa. The U.S. Postal Service issued a Kwanzaa stamp in 1997; the Smithsonian Institution sponsors an annual celebration; and greeting card companies churn out Kwanzaa cards for profit.

It is now clear that Kwanzaa is a phony, wicked holiday created by an ex-con who hates God, Christians, Jews, and blacks – yes blacks. Why else would he try to pull them away from Christianity and indoctrinate them in racialism and socialism? Blacks, particularly black Christians, need to stand up for Christmas and reject Kwanzaa. If they refuse, they will be helping to stamp out the true meaning of Christmas, and allowing evil to have its way in America.

This is a future we cannot allow.

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John Edward Philips - 12/16/2005

There is too much misinformation in this article.

As just a very basic example, the name of Karenga's group, US, is the first person plural pronoun, objective case, as in "not you or them." The epithet "United Slaves" is applied by their enemies, including the Black Panthers, and refers to their conservatism. To my knowledge Karenga has never even admitted an influence of Marxism in his thought. His is a profoundly rightwing movement.

Yes, Kwanzaa is not African, but after all, African-Americans have a right to celebrate, or not celebrate, anything they want.

The real reason Kwanzaa has taken off, to an extent that older black holidays like Juneteenth have not, is that corporations have found ways to commercialize Kwanzaa, but not Juneteenth. Is this a natural result of the inherently separatist nature of Kwanzaa? Perhaps, but it is the most important aspect of Kwanzaa's success, and the one that Reverend Peterson most conspicuously fails to address.

Tom Sweetnam - 12/12/2005

I hate black racists as much as I hate white racists.

Tom Sweetnam - 12/12/2005

Christmas is celebrated in Japan where Christians are almost nonexistant. In fact, Christmas is one of Japan's favorite celebrations, not only because kids get presents (until about age 12, when they start getting suspicious about whether this "Santa" character really exists), but more importantly, Christmas eve is considered the most romatic celebraion of the year for young Japanese lovers.

Kahlil Gibran Chism - 1/10/2005

" First of all, as we’ve seen, the whole holiday is made up! You won’t find its roots in Africa or anywhere else."

This is no argument against participating in Kwanzaa. One of the principles, Kujichagalia (self-determination), is appropriate: Maulana Karenga DID "invent" the holiday, which was his right, and any one who agrees with its principles can choose to follow the holiday if they wish. In fact, I would argue that a large part of its appeal for many African Americans is the fact that a black man was creative and bold enough to create a POSITIVE holiday of his own, on behalf of African Americans. The 7 principles are certainly better than the mass consumerism that is Christmas. Are African-Americans relegated to only celebrating holidays created and approved by their former slave masters?

Your so-called legitimate holiday, Christmas, was also made up by someone, and it certainly wasn't Jesus of Nazareth (read the book of Amos, Reverend, to learn about how your X'mas rituals are forbidden, according to your own scripture). All rituals and celebrations have an origin; just because you are ignorant of their origins, doesn't mean that they are automatically "legitimate."

I humbly suggest that you read some books other than the King James Version of the Bible. You probably should start with a book on the history of the Christmas holiday, which was originally a pagan winter solstice festival, and has nothing to do with birth of the historical Jesus. And pray a little more, too -- the jealousy, racism, and self-hate in your commentary are palpable.

As for the personal information you included about Mr. Karenga: it has nothing to do with the value of the 7 principles. Read a book on King James, who was a satan worshipper and pedophile, among other "un-Christian" things. Will you consider abandoning Christmas afterward? I doubt it.

K. Bonbright - 1/9/2005

I've decided not to comment on the obvious bias and prejudice contained in this article, but I cannot abide when people refuse to do their background work.

Ron Karenga did not, as Rev. Peterson writes, invent the red, black and green flag for Kwanzaa. This flag was created by Marcus Garvey in the 1920s as part of the Pan African movement (which began in the 19th century).

The seven principles of Kwanzaa likewise come from Pan Africanism. The purpose of these principles is not a denial of Christianity (especially given that the Black Theology movement was an important component of Pan Africanism), or an [implied] attack on capitalism or an expression of racism (though in the hands of some it can be). The seven principles attempted to reclaim blackness as good, beautiful, and not an aberration from normal (read: white, superior). Pan Africanism tried to release black men, in particular, from modes of thinking and behaving that reinforced the racist black/white binary and allowed them to become 'men' again.

In this vein, Kwanzaa is a Pan African holiday intended to give black Americans a link to their African heritage, a sense of pride in their blackness (by not feeling forced to conform to white society in speech, attire, behavior, etc.), and a holiday through which black communities can be created and sustained. In this way, Kwanzaa is not much different from the "black is beautiful" movement or Steve Biko's Black Conciiousness Movement, or Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association.

Jim Williams - 1/3/2005

Come on, folks. Peterson has a clear religious agenda, but that doesn't mean his skepticism about the holiday is wrong. Drop the ranting, and focus on his evidence in your critiques, not on his religious status.

Vernon Clayson - 1/2/2005

Kislock III is another deep thinker, expressing the idea that there can't be a God because George Bush was conceived. Who can know whether there is a god or not, humankind has been searching for that answer since thought began and it hardly matters as life seems to continue with or without the answer. Anyway, it looks more and more like we are all related to some degree from a very few distant ancestors, so, Kislock III, maybe you and G. W. had a common ancestor thousands of years ago, maybe even more, and the God you question as being ("is/was") allowed conception to progress until there was you to castigate your distant cousin - and then there's me, perhaps another distance cousin, to scoff at your premise.

Michael Glen Wade - 12/31/2004

Following this guy's argument that to add or subtract from the simple message of salvation is evil, then it follows that ministers, who are in the business of adding to and otherwise amplifying that message, are committing evil acts, which probably makes them, including the grievously misguided and misleading Rev. Jesse Lee, minions of Satan. Black Christians, indeed all Christians, should therefore treat him and any messages he might proffer as anathema, as demon spawn. Amen!

Stephen Francis Kislock III - 12/31/2004

Really What has/had Christianty Done for the Africian American?

Who do the faithful really serve?

Power and Wealth are the Game!

If there is/was a God, g.w.bush would not of been Conceived!