Originated the African-American celebration of Kwanzaa. He was influential in the 1960s and 1970s Black Power movement.
He attended both Los Angeles City College and UCLA, graduating with a degree in political science with an emphasis in African Studies.
He co-founded US with Hakim Jamal, the black nationalism and social change organization.
He married Tiamoyo Karenga in 1970.
He participated in the documentary The Black Candle, which Maya Angelou narrated.