Umoja’s writing was first published in movement publications such as NOMMO, Jihad News, Soulbook, Black Star, By Any Means Necessary, and Breakthrough. Umoja returned to college to gain academic credentials and to improve his writing. He completed his undergraduate education at California State University Los Angeles, and graduating with a B.A. in Afro-American Studies in 1986. Umoja was able to take courses with the founder of Los Angeles’ Marcus Garvey School Anyim Palmer, Black Studies pioneer Dr. Armstead Robinson, Kwanzaa founder Dr. Maulana Karenga, and Dr. Sidney Ribeau, now president of Howard University. Umoja achieved his secondary teaching credential through courses at Morris Brown College and finally at Georgia State University in 1987. He went to graduate school at Emory University in Atlanta where he received his M.A. and PhD in American Studies with a concentration in African-American Studies. Umoja was the first graduate student of the noted historian, Robin D.G. Kelley.
Umoja’s training and experiences as an activist and in the academy have influenced his scholarship. His well-cited research and writing has primarily focused around the Civil Rights and Black Power movement. Dr. Umoja’s writing has been featured in several scholarly publications: The Journal of Black Studies, New Political Science, The International Journal of Africana Studies, The Black Scholar, Radical History Review and Socialism and Democracy. Umoja was one of the contributors to Blackwell Companion on African-American History, edited by Alton Hornsby; The Black Panther Party Reconsidered, edited by Charles E. Jones; and Liberation, Imagination, and the Black Panther Party, edited by Kathleen Cleaver and George Katisaficus. He is the author of We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance and the Mississippi Freedom Movement (New York University, 2013).
Due to his activism and scholarship, Umoja was a contributor to commercial and popular documentaries on the experience of the Black Freedom struggle. Umoja was a featured commentator on BET series American Gangster segment on Dr. Mutulu Shakur (2008). Umoja also appeared in "Bastards of the Party" (2006), produced by Anthony Fuqua and directed by Cle "Bone" Sloan, and Freedom Archives "Cointelpro 101" (2010).