In Fighting for US, historian Scot Brown presents the first comprehensive account of the US Organization, a California-based group that played a leading role in Black Power politics and culture during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Founded in 1965 by Maulana Karenga, US developed an extensive network of activists, artists, and organizations throughout the United States for the purpose of igniting an African American cultural revolution. Brown examines US's philosophy, internal dynamics, political activism, and influence on African American art, drawing from organizational archives, interviews, Federal Bureau of Investigation files, newspaper accounts, and other primary sources of the period. Engaging and original, Fighting for US is the definitive work on the US organization, Maulana Karenga, and Black cultural nationalism in America.
Though with each passing holiday season Kwanzaa becomes ever-more integrated into the pan-denominational celebrations beloved of greeting card companies, its origins in the tumult of the Black Power struggles of the 1960s and early '70s are little known. Likewise, the history of the "US" organization, whose achievements in the years between the Watts riots and the second Nixon administration include the invention of Kwanzaa, remain obscure to many. Using both a wealth of archival material and interviews with many of the individuals involved, UCLA historian Brown has written a detailed and sober account of a complex, contentious and sometimes lurid series of events. Founded in 1965 by Maulana Karenga (ne Ron Everett), US's carefully articulated doctrine of racial and community empowerment and renewed African spirituality exerted a nationwide influence out of proportion to its modest size. If much of US's rhetoric was patriarchal and nationalist, Karenga's early ability to move among and bring together competing interests was considerable, and during an era when enormous social changes seemed imminent, his personal prestige was great. Sadly, this led to the cult of personality that became part of US's rapid downfall. Harassed by Hoover's FBI-which expertly exploited already violent rivalries with organizations like the Black Panthers-and torn apart by internal dissension, US came to an end amid kidnapping, torture and prison sentences. If Brown's otherwise excellent account has a flaw, it is in his understandable if sometimes over-scrupulous avoidance of his material's dramatic potential. But as a revelatory account of a tragic and little-known phase of American history, Fighting for US is of enormous and permanent value. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“What a fascinating tour through the theory and praxis of Black Power! I'm immensely grateful to Scot Brown for his fine analysis of the intellectual basis of the Us Organization as well as its actions in the 1960s and 1970s. Fighting for Us does more than situate Maulana Karenga in his various contexts. The book also explains the shifting collaborations and conflicts of the era's Black Power groups with remarkable clarity.”
-Nell Irvin Painter,author of Sojourner Truth, A Life, A Symbol and Southern History Across the Color Line
“A detailed and sober account . . . Fighting for US is of enormous and permanent value.”
“Scot Brown’s Fighting for Us reveals a dimension of black cultural nationalism that, perhaps more than any other of recent decades, has been in need of sustained scholarly attention. A valuable study.”
-Sterling Stuckey,author of Slave Culture: Nationalist Theory and the Foundations of Black America
Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)
Meet the Author
Scot Brown is Assistant Professor of History at UCLA. His writings on African American resistance, social movements, and cultural nationalism have appeared in the Black Scholar, American National Biography, Journal of Black Studies, Journal of Negro History and Contributions in Black Studies.