Remembering The Pioneering Work Of Jawanza Kunjufu: Countering The Conspiracy To Destroy Black Boys

Written by Ann Brown
Remembering the pioneering work of educator Jawanza Kunjufu, who wrote the groundbreaking book “Countering The Conspiracy To Destroy Black Boys.” Photo:

Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, 66, was one of the first educators to look at how Black males are educated in the U.S. educational system. 

The educational consultant wrote the groundbreaking book, “Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys, Vol. 1” in 1983. 

According to Kunjufu, the conspiracy against Black males is “fundamentally rooted in the need of a white minority to control the world’s far greater population of Black people and people of color.”

In addition to overt racism, “Kunjufu includes in his indictment all teachers, parents, and especially adult Black males who fail to provide the support and discipline needed to keep Black boys off the streets and in the classroom. Kunjufu sees Black males as caught in a self-perpetuating cycle of failure, in which the absence of stable, successful adult role models ensures that young Blacks will do poorly in school, turn to street life, and father yet another generation of boys without adequate male role models,” Biography reported.

Kunjufu is known on the lecture circuit and for his workshops for students, parents, teachers, and community residents. He speaks at preschools, elementary schools, high-schools, colleges, and churches. 

All aspects of the African American experience occupy Kunjufu’s attention, but the main thrust of his work has been directed toward improving the education and socialization of Black youths, Biography reported. 

In 1980, Kunjufu founded African American Images, a Chicago-based publishing company that sponsors dozens of workshops intended to help educators and parents develop practical solutions to the problems of child-rearing in a racist society.

He mentors boys in the Community of Men organization he launched.

Kunjufu also authored other books including, “Developing Positive Self-Images Discipline In Black Children,” “Black Students Middle-Class Teachers,” “Satan, I’m Taking Back My Health,” “Keeping Black Boys Out Of Special Education,” “Countering the Conspiracy To Destroy Black Boys, Vol 2,” “Lessons From History, Advanced Edition,” “State Of Emergency,” “Raising Black Boys,” “Black Economics,” and “Changing School Culture For Black Males,” among others.

Dr. Kunjufu’s lectures have covered such topics as Black male-female relationship solutions, critical concerns in the area of raising our children, particularly the Black male child, economic solutions for the Black community, and spiritual motivation, according to the African American Literature Book Club.

Born in Chicago, Kunjufu earned his bachelor’s degree in 1974 from Illinois State University, majoring in economics and business administration. From 1974 to 1980, Dr. Kunjufu taught in an Africentric school and earned his doctorate from Union Graduate School in 1984, according to the AEI Speakers Bureau.

In the late 1980s, Kunjufu became the executive producer of a full-length film, “Up Against the Wall”, about Black urban culture. It addressed the issues facing young Black males. “I wanted a movie that could take a Black boy through positive and negative peer pressure and see if he could survive…and be a responsible young man,” Kunjufu told the Chicago Tribune.

Starring in Kunjufu’s film, “Up Against the Wall”, were Marla Gibbs (“The Jeffersons”) and Ron O’Neal (star of the 1972 film “Super Fly”). The actors did not receive advance payment. O’Neal served as the film’s director. “Up Against the Wall” cost $2 million to make and was released in 1991 in a limited number of theaters, primarily in the South, Biography reported. The film did relatively well.

Despite his foray into Hollywood, Kunjufu’s focus remains the educational system.

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“I believe we have to look critically at those who are teaching our children, particularly our African-American Males. Statistics show that only 6 percent of our teaching profession is African American. Of this, only 1 percent is African American Males. Eighty-three percent are white and female. There has been a 66 percent decline in African-American teachers since 1954,” he said in a 2011 interview with the Journal of African American Males in Education.

When asked what his philosophy of education was. He replied, “Raising teacher expectations, increasing time on task, understanding that children have different learning styles, making the curriculum more culturally relevant, and advocating for single-gender classrooms.”