Christmas might be over, but there is still a day left to celebrate and commemorate.

I do it every Dec. 26. And no, I’m not talking about observing the first day of Kwanzaa either.

For those of you that do celebrate the seven days of Kwanzaa, an African-American tradition that comes to us courtesy of Maulana Ron Karenga of the US organization, I say have at it.

But I remember those days in 1969 when Karenga’s US organization had a dispute with the Black Panther Party. I remember all too well the events of Jan. 17, 1969.

That’s when Panthers Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter and John Jerome Huggins were fatally shot on the UCLA campus. Two members of the US organization were the triggermen.

Karenga has some serious ‘splaining to do about that incident, the US-Panther rift and whether or not two of the three US members accused of shooting Carter and Huggins were indeed FBI informants, as some have alleged.

Until he does, there’ll be no Kwanzaa celebrations for me.

No, when Dec. 26 rolls around, I celebrate the anniversary of what happened on that day in 1908, at Rushcutter’s Bay, a town just outside of Sydney, Australia.

That’s when Jack Johnson, an African-American heavyweight boxer, pummeled world champion Tommy Burns into the canvas to become the first black heavyweight champion of the world.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: back on Sept. 3, I celebrated the 174th anniversary of the day Frederick Douglass escaped from slavery. Now I’m celebrating the day Papa Jack Johnson knocked Tommy Burns the hell out.

“Damn, Kane,” you might be thinking, “do you REALLY celebrate this kind of stuff?”

Yes, I do. Indeed I do. Someone has to.

Douglass was the most extraordinary American of his century. (Notice I didn’t say “most extraordinary African American.”) He was one of many abolitionist leaders, black and white, that urged a reluctant President Lincoln to use black soldiers in the Civil War.

Lincoln did, and by 1864 was giving the African Americans that served the Union as soldiers, sailors, laborers, scouts and spies credit for defeating the Confederacy.

When Johnson wrested the heavyweight title from Burns, it was a time when white supremacy was ascendant throughout the world. Johnson’s victory dealt white supremacy a blow from which it never fully recovered.

Granted, there had been blows struck against white supremacy prior to Johnson’s pummeling of Burns. Toussaint Louverture of Haiti struck his when he led black slaves to victory over British, Spanish and French military forces sent against him in the late 18th century.

Jean Jacques Dessalines struck his when he drove French forces from Haiti that Napoleon had sent to re-enslave the island.

In case you’re wondering how to sniff out a bona fide white supremacist, here’s one sure test: if the person believes those French, British and Spanish expeditions were defeated by malaria or yellow fever – in other words, a bunch of darned mosquitoes – instead of the brilliant military tactics of Louverture and Dessalines and the courage of their troops, you’ve probably nailed yourself a white supremacist.

Native American leaders Crazy Horse and Totanka Yotanka, the Sitting Bull, struck their blow against white supremacy when they did in George Armstrong Custer’s Seventh Calvary in June of 1876.

Three years later, the Zulus of South Africa struck one when they wiped out a British regiment sent against them at a place called Isandlwana.

In 1896, Menelik II, emperor of Ethiopia, defeated an Italian force sent against him.

To make his blow against white supremacy, Johnson had to track down Burns, chasing him all the way to Australia before Burns would agree to a fight. (White champions avoided fighting black challengers in those days, and for good reason, as Johnson proved.)

British writer Graeme Kent, in his book “The Great White Hopes: The Quest To Defeat Jack Johnson,” wrote “the black fighter’s victory was a watershed in the history of sport. For the first time, boxing left the sports pages and was featured all over the world in major news stories on the front pages of the contemporary tabloids and broadsheets alike.

“Typical was the New York Evening Journal, which published a picture of Johnson occupying most of the front page, unprecedented coverage for a sporting personality. Caucasian supremacy had been publicly challenged and humiliated.”

Indeed it had. That’s why, every Dec. 26, I make sure to give props to Papa Jack Johnson.

(Photo: AP)

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14 thoughts on “Why I Won’t Be Celebrating Kwanzaa

  1. D'Carlo on said:

    Okera…. then why don’t we re-invent Kwanzza. Get it away from Karenga’s stain. And make it into something that will invite all americans to celebrates and understand our heritage and become better people because of it?

  2. Black Santa on said:

    Dream On! The powers that be have in a ever ending choke hold…..Good news….It won’t stop progress….. Destiny!

  3. Very thought-provoking article. I happen to celebrate Kwanzaa. Maybe my appreciation for the holiday partly comes from the fact that I wasn’t ‘too close’ to any drama related to it’s creator Maulana Karenga.

    I take a more objective look at Kwanzaa. I feel that Kwanzaa is bigger than Karenga. Kwanzaa isn’t a Karenga-worshipping event. I feel that Kwanzaa has done more positive than negative. If we were to take a subjective look at just about any holiday, we would wind up not celebrating anything because humans create holidays and humans are subject to drama. An objective view helps us to see the intent of what we celebrate.

    People of African ascent are not one big homogenous group. I don’t think there is any holiday that each and every one of us will agree on and celebrate.

  4. D'Carlo on said:

    Kwanzza has its good points but the intend of the holiday was to furthur divide whites and blacks in this country. The holiday might as well have been made up by the KKK because it serves their purposes also. Dr. King would never have approved of a holiday that further seperates us as americans. Please I beg you to study up on Kings teachings. Not just the little bit of info they play on commercials once a month. Look at all of it. He was a man who loved everyone. He could very well have been a modern day prophet sent by God to heal and guid us.
    I use to hate whites when I was younger just as much as you do now. Thank God for my mother who taught me differently. When I got older and away from the bad influences of the hate mongers I was able to heal my soul and find peace through Christ. I think my mother everyday. If it wasn’t for her I would be in jail or worst dead.
    Their was a white family who lived a few house down from mine. I use to throw rocks at them and steal thier bikes. My dad may not have encouraged it but he never punished me for it. He was a deputy and he hated whites just as much as I use to. He use to bragg about how many tickets he wrote to whites in a single day. My mother was a educator and she didn’t share my fathers hatred. After I left home my mom divorced my dad. At the time I was hurt by it. And as much as I hated seeing my parents split I can see now how my dads views where poisinous on my development. He was abusive to my mom. I relized now that if there where no whites around he would just find someone else to hate. sadly he is still this way.
    I see now that our culture is damaged due to racial hatred. And I am talking about our mistrust we have towards whites. It is true that whites will treat me differently– at first, but when they get to know me they learn quickly that they have nothing to fear. Please I beg everyone here. raise your children up right with good values. Honesty. Lets get the kids of the streets. Lets raise them with the old american values of hard work, honesty, respect, curtisy, the importants of family. And I am not talking about our black family. I am talking about treating your wifes with respect. Hold her above all else. Teach your children to do the same. Respect the law. Respect your teacher. Basically don’t raise your child the way my dad raised me.
    Why teach your child that whites hate them and that they will never succeed in this nation as long as whites control it. What damage do you think that does to a young mind. Why should they obey the law and be curtious to others if the world is against them?
    We are better than this. This wasn’t Dr. Kings dream. Whos dream was this anyways? High unemployment, high crime rates where we live. Guess who the criminals are? It is our children who we are telling that they have no chance in this life. Its not the kkk or the evil white people who came to break into my home or steal my car. It was me. It was people who I called friends.
    But it is not me now. Luckly I hit rock bottom in my early twenties. And when I fell, I fell hard. Fortunatley for me my mom built up a foundation of love that I landed on. Everything she taught me that I ignored came rushing back. I was never happier.
    My now share the dream with Dr. King. One of love and unity where everyone is treated as a human being.
    May God be with you always in everything you do.

  5. We can all agree that Karenga hates whites.

    However, here is a little (or well known for some) known fact:
    The Bayer company then became part of IG Farben, a German chemical company conglomerate. During World War II, the IG Farben used slave labor in factories attached to large slave labor camps, notably the sub-camps of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp. IG Farben owned 42.5% of the company that manufactured Zyklon B,[a chemical used in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and other extermination camps. After World War II, the Allies broke up IG Farben and Bayer reappeared as an individual business. The Bayer executive Fritz ter Meer, sentenced to seven years in prison by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, was made head of the supervisory board of Bayer in 1956, after his release.

    How many of you who hate racism have Bayer aspirin in the medicine cabinet and will you now throw the unused portion away (if you did not know this) and discontinue buying that brand?
    I use this example because the “I hate Karenga” posse sites his ideas about whites being a reason not to celebrate Kwanzaa.

    Kwanzaa’s creator has more than a few issues that make many uncomfortable, but the idea of the holiday also shows how divided we are, even when it comes to something positive. Someone will break it down and site the many reasons to not support it.

    Kwanzaa good Karenga bad Keep it moving.

  6. D'Carlo on said:

    Look at this so called holiday. The man made it up because his racism wouildn’t allow him to celebrate what he called a white mans holiday which is the birth of Christ. True Kwanzza has aspects that are appealing and good for us however it is devisive. And it is ment to be devisive. This man wasn’t for desegregation. He wants blacks and whites to be seperately governed. We can’t live like that here. We must come together as Americans. Karenga worships the black skin not God. He invented a holiday just for blacks at a time when we should have been fighting to come together. Karenga is the worse type of racist and even after his death his ideas hurt us as a people. It fosters racism in our hearts. It leads us away from Christ. Away from God. It builds the idea that all whites are racist, that all whites hate us and wants to see us fail. IT infects the minds of our young. Then we wonder why our children act out and break laws. Why should they obey the white mans law when the white man is against us. Why should we respect others and show common curtisy in public to others when we feel the world is set up to watch them fail. Don’t go crying to me when the police come and pick up your child for crimes against the law. My children will be at home learning to be good honest men who will treat their wifes right.
    Kwanzza needs to go. We can celebrate our history without the racist undertones. We can do so in a way, that will invite white black or brown, to learn more about our history and culture without making whites and mexicans feel as if they have to apoligize for the crimes that their grandfathers made against ours.

  7. I would imagine there are a number of things to “not celebrate” because the originator has some “splainin” to do. Lincoln: Emancipation Proclamation, The composer Verde (I heard he was a fascist), and even Martin Luther King (who may have had an affair or two), the list is endless.
    People who create good things are not void of a complicated back ground. I think you have a sound reason to ask the question. Hopefully you will get some answers.
    Celebrate don’t celebrate is up to you and the many others who feel as you do. However, Jack Johnson was a womanizer and seemed to like only white women for companions (could of been his need to push that in the face of the White establishment), well what ever the case he is a complicated historical figure. Anyway you cut it you can find a reason to oppose the “who” in history.
    All the best to what ever you celebrate at this time of year.

  8. Really?? Look beyond the man. I will celebrate Kwanzaa every year…until the day I die. The principles of Kwanzaa are what the black community needs to focus on daily!! I have taught my children these principles and hopefully they will teach their children and we as a family and a community will recreate ourselves.

  9. Sacalion on said:

    It is a shame that the writer of this article can’t embrace the seven wonderful principles of Kwanzaa that the African American community solely needs in the never ending fight for equality because the creator of Kwanzaa has some “splaining” to do and the first day of Kwanzaa falls on Jack Johnson’s boxing victory. This brings me to wonder what other historical events fall on holiday celebrations that gives Gregory Kane the cause to pass on.

  10. My husband went to college with Karenga and he says that he just ‘made it up’! Those guys who were involved in the shooting were agent provocateurs sent to cause mayhem and murder on campus back then. Heck that was 40 plus years ago!

  11. D'Carlo on said:

    I don’t celebrate Kwanzza either because of Karenga. Karenga was no different than that of the white supremacest just he wanted black supremacy. I fight racism where ever I find it. Living here in the south I don’t let whites get away with it. Also on the flip if one of my friends try to say somethin racist about whites I set them straight real quick. I will not lower myself or my values to the levels of the KKK. Racism will not end in this country if we do not fight it where ever we find it.
    My personal dream is to fix America first then we can go out and end racism and slavery all across the world.

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