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B. Kwaku Duren papers

Identifier: 7022

Scope and Contents

The B. Kwaku Duren papers, 1964-2012, consist of correspondence, reports, ephemera, clippings, photographs, research materials, and audio visual materials created and collected by lawyer and activist B. Kwaku Duren (born 1943). The papers document more than 40 years of Duren’s work with civil rights, political prisoners, police misconduct and community relations, community and political activism, and reparations for slavery, and with organizations including but not limited to the Black Panther Party, the New Panther Vanguard Movement, and Community Services Unlimited.


  • 1964 - 2012


Conditions Governing Access

Advance notice required for access.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Biographical / Historical

B. Kwaku Duren (also known as Robert Donaldson Duren and Bob D. Duren) was born in West Virginia in 1943. In the 1940s his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio and in the 1950s settled in Long Beach, California. Duren's teen and young adult years in California (the 1960s) were marred by legal troubles and he served jail sentences for much of this period, most notably in Soledad, one of California's most notorious prisons.

Prison time changed the trajectory of his life. In jail Duren was exposed to and read many classic books on African-American history and political philosophy. After being paroled in the 1970s, Duren became a community activist; his primary activities were with alternative schools, including the Intercommunal Youth Institute, and the founding of the Coalition Against Police Abuse which was in part inspired by the fatal shooting of his sister Betty Duren by California Highway Patrol officers. Duren also collaborated with national organizations. Most notably, he founded the Southern California Party Chapter of the Black Panther Party. In the 1990s Duren continued the legacy of the Panthers by playing a large role in the New Panther Vanguard Movement, an attempt to redirect and reenergize black activism.

Duren also was involved in government and law. In 1989 he obtained his JD from the People's College of Law (Los Angeles) and passed the bar in 1990. Before being awarded his JD, Duren sued the LAPD, specifically Chief of Police, Daryl F. Gates, for spying and infiltration of some of his groups; the suit was settled. He was also heavily involved in politics; he ran for Congress three times and Vice President once under the Peace and Freedom Party.

Duren continues his activism today and resides in Compton, California.


26.67 Linear Feet (50 boxes)

Language of Materials



B. Kwaku Duren is a lawyer and long-time political, social and community activist in the Los Angeles area. He has served various institutions, among them the South-Central Office of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA), the Union of Legal Services Workers of Los Angeles. He served as head of the Southern California Chapter of the Black Panther Party and chairman of the New Panther Vanguard Movement. He was co-editor-in-chief of The Black Panther International News Service. As a political independent Duren has run for elective office, including the U.S. Congress, Insurance Commissioner, Long Beach and Los Angeles School Boards, and most recently Mayor of Compton. The papers reflect more than 40 years (1964-2012) of his work in civil rights movements and activities, and include correspondence, photographs, published materials, fliers, posters, and audio/visual materials.


The papers are organized into the following series: 1. Correspondence; 2. Police Misconduct and Accountability; 3. Activism and Community Outreach; 4. Political Prisoners, the Prison System, and Assassinations; 5. Reparations for Slavery; 6. Art, Essays and Self-Expression; 7. Public Presentations; 8. Government and the Law; 9. Political Systems; 10. Research Files; 11. Photographs; 12. Ephemera; 13. Financial Files; 14. Book Excerpts and Journal Articles; 15. News and Media Publications.


Purchased from B. Kwaku Duren, January 21, 2014.

Finding aid for the B. Kwaku Duren papers
Leonard Butingan
2016 August
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the USC Libraries Special Collections Repository

Doheny Memorial Library 206
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles California 90089-0189 United States