From Publishers Weekly
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.
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“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
“The Us Organization practically defined black cultural nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s, yet we know so little of its history and ideology. Thanks to Scot Brown's subtle and penetrating portrait of the movement and the man behind it, Maulana Karenga, we now have a more complete picture of the period. Fighting for Us will force us all to rethink our assumptions about black cultural nationalism and the Black Power era.”
-Robin D. G. Kelley,author Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination
“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
“Readers will find Brown's study a well-researched document on the key era of the 1960s and 1970s, and it will serve as a guide to other scholars as more students of the freedom era take up the challenge to study and explore this rich period in our nation's history.”
“A detailed and sober account . . . Fighting for US is of enormous and permanent value.”