Kwanzaa was once controversial.
The celebration has been controversial in large part because of its founder.
In the 1960s, Ron Karenga, who now goes by the first name Maulana (“master teacher” in Swahili), was the leader of a student black nationalist group at UCLA.
The group, known as US (United Slaves), was involved in a bloody rivalry with the local chapter of the Black Panthers.
In 1969, US members were convicted of killing two Panthers in the UCLA cafeteria.
Two years later, Karenga himself was convicted of assaulting a female US member.
Since then, Karenga has become a professor of black studies at California State University and is a promoter of an Afrocentric educational curriculum.
Because of Karenga’s history and Kwanzaa’s origins, a number of African-Americans have mixed feelings about the holiday.