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Holding the Line and Keeping the Faith: Marking Us’ Half-Century of Struggle and Achievement
By Sentinel News Service
Published October 7, 2015
Nguzo Saba 2015 Awards Luncheon. Standing from left to right: Dr. Cornel West, Dr. Freya Rivers, Mrs. Tiamoyo Karenga, Dr. Maulana Karenga, Mr. Danny Bakewell, Dr. Haki Madhubuti, Dr. Molefi Asante, and Mr. Tulivu Jadi.

Nguzo Saba 2015 Awards Luncheon. Standing from left to right: Dr. Cornel West, Dr. Freya Rivers, Mrs. Tiamoyo Karenga, Dr. Maulana Karenga, Mr. Danny Bakewell, Dr. Haki Madhubuti, Dr. Molefi Asante, and Mr. Tulivu Jadi.

From September 24-27 activists-intellectuals, social and racial justice activists, educators, ministers, teachers, professors, social workers and other professionals, students and everyday people from across the country gathered to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Organization Us and the African American Cultural Center, and of the introduction of the organization’s philosophy, Kawaida, and the Nguzo Saba (The Seven Principles) at the Nguzo Saba 2015 Conference and Awards Luncheon held here in Los Angeles.

Nguzo Saba Authors’ Hour featured new and best-selling titles by Dr. Molefi Asante, Dr. Cornel West, Dr. Maulana Karenga, Dr. Haki Madhubuti, and Dr. Pat Reid-Merritt

Nguzo Saba Authors’ Hour featured new and best-selling titles by Dr. Molefi Asante, Dr. Cornel West, Dr. Maulana Karenga, Dr. Haki Madhubuti, and Dr. Pat Reid-Merritt.

Both celebratory and serious, the conference focused on marking Us’ extraordinary achievement of 50 years of work, service, struggle and institution-building and extracting lessons of best ideas and practices from Us and Kawaida-based and Kawaida-influenced organizations in the interest of rebuilding the Black movement and advancing the struggle. The highlights of the conference included the keynote awards luncheon address by Dr. Molefi Asante, creator of the concept of Afrocentricity, and professor and chair, Department of African American Studies, Temple University; a 50th Anniversary Chair’s message by Dr. Maulana Karenga, chair of Us, executive director of the African American Cultural Center, and professor and chair of the Department of Africana Studies, CSU, Long Beach; a poetry reading by the distinguished award-winning poet, Dr. Haki Madhubuti, publisher/CEO, Third World Press and an Nguzo Saba Legacy Conversation with Dr. Julius Garvey, son of the Hon. Marcus Garvey. The culminating highlight was a wide-ranging dialogue between Dr. Maulana Karenga and Dr. Cornel West, well-known activist-intellectual and professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary on “Remembrance, Reflection and Resistance: Mapping the Course of Our Current Struggle”.

In addition, the conference featured a day-long seminar on African-centered culturally grounded education with Dr. Karenga as the principal instructor. Associate instructors included Dr. Freya Rivers, director, The Genius Academy, Lansing, MI; Dr. Miranda Ra’oof, principal, Pio Pico Middle School, LAUSD; Ms. Assata Moore, director, Woodlawn Campus Charter School, University of Chicago. Also featured was the Nguzo Saba Town Hall Forum on “Critical Issues of Our Times: Politics, Public Policy and Community Engagement”. Panelists for the Town Hall included Dr. Maulana Karenga (moderator), Dr. Melina Abdullah, Professor and Chair, Department of Africana Studies, CSU, Los Angeles, organizer, Black Lives Matter; Mr. Larry Aubry, Co-Chair, Black Community, Clergy and Labor Alliance; Mr. Danny Bakewell, Sr., executive publisher/CEO Los Angeles, Sentinel Newspaper; Dr. Haki Madhubuti; Prof. Amen Rahh, professor emeritus, Department of Africana Studies, CSULB; Pastor Kelvin Sauls, senior pastor, Holman United Methodist Church; Dr. Shirley Weber, Assembly member, 79th District, CA; Mr. Tony Wafford, executive director, I Choose Life Health and Wellness Center; and Rev. Dr. JoAnn Watson, Associate Pastor, West Side Unity Church and former councilwoman, Detroit.

Dr. Maulana Karenga and Dr. Julius Garvey, son of the Hon. Marcus Garvey.

Dr. Maulana Karenga and Dr. Julius Garvey, son of the Hon. Marcus Garvey.

The four-day conference also included a series of panels to discuss critical issues confronting us as a people and the world. Subjects and titles included: Building Community: Issues and Initiatives; Black Males/Female Relations: Principles and Best Practices; Building Inter-generational Solidarity; Rebuilding the Movement: Strategies and Struggles; Pan-Africanism: Current Strategies and Effective Models; Supporting the Struggle in Haiti; Kawaida, Africana Studies and the  Community: Womanism; Kawaida, Africana Studies and the Community: Theory and Practice; Creative Production: Insights and Institution-Building; Saidi/Simba Conversations: Black Man Rising and Raising; and Spirituality and Ethics: Faith of Our Fathers and Mothers.

The conference marks the beginning of the 50th-year commemoration of the Organization Us which was founded September 7, 1965 by Dr. Maulana Karenga in the wake of the Watts Revolt and the martyrdom of Min. Malcolm X.   The Organization Us has a series of events planned to commemorate their half-century of work, service, struggle and institution-building which will extend to September 2016.

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The conference air was permeated with excitement, hopefulness and recommitment to continued struggle. Even seasoned conference attendees and presenters such as Dr. Molefi Asante, Dr. Cornel West, Dr. Pat Reid-Merritt, professor and chair, Department of Africana Studies, Stockton University and Dr. Dorothy Tsuruta, professor and chair, Department of Africana Studies, San Francisco State University reaffirmed that the conference was a unique and uplifting experience. Responding to the sense of possibility and recommitment that defined the sentiment, discussion and direction of the conference, Dr. Karenga, when asked, where do we go from here, quoted from his chair’s message. He stated that ”in order for us to build on this historic moment of celebration and reaffirmation, my advice is this: Continue the struggle, Keep the faith, Hold the line. Love and respect our people and each other. Seek and speak truth. Do and demand justice. Be constantly concerned with the well-being of the world and all in it. And rebuild the Movement which prefigures and makes possible the good world we all want and deserve, and work and struggle to bring into being.”

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