About Harambee City in Omeka

HARAMBEE

Swahili word meaning to pull or work together; Known as a Kenyan motto meant to encourage self help and nation building; a concept borrowed by the Congress of Racial Equality for its black power project in Cleveland.

OMEKA

Swahili word meaning to display or lay out wares; to speak out; to spread out; to unpack.

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Fifty years ago, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) issued a declaration for black power. This pivotal moment shaped the organization's direction toward black economic development and opened new doors to government and community partnerships.  

Jomo Kenyatta, first Prime Minister of independent Kenya, adopted "Harambee" as a concept meant to inspire community projects and initiate national development. It is not clear how CORE was inspired by the Kenyan model. However, the organization embraced the idea for its own purposes and the term became a concept model for its work on community economic development in Cleveland, Ohio.

Harambee City, both this site and the corresponding book, uncovers and examines this part of CORE's history. Harambee City: Congress of Racial Equality in Clevelandand and the Rise of Black Power Populism is a mongraph that explores the underlining conditions that led to Black Power’s rise in CORE and Cleveland’s relationship to this transition.

There has been no holistic study on CORE in thirty years. My book corrects its early history, reasserts the powerful and positive contributions of black power within the organization, and challenges previous assertions by historians that its leadership rubber-stamped Richard Nixon’s “black capitalism” concept.

 

 

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THEORIZING ORAL HISTORY, PUBLIC HISTORY, AND AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES THROUGH DIGITAL HUMANITIES 

While the book provides a synthesis about CORE from its formation to the early 1970s, the website expands public understanding about CORE, black power, community organization, and economic development through access to primary sources, teacher resources, and mapping. It also acts to recover a little known aspect about CORE and its relationship to black power and economic development while providing access for future scholars and other interested persons.

African American Studies, public history, and oral history methodologies played central roles in the recovery of this fairly unknown period in CORE's existence.  However, this approach also required a philosophical embrace of power sharing and open access during and after historical production.  This process eventually became a model for intersecting Black Scholarship and Digital Humanities.

Harambee City illustrates this philosophy through:

1. Broad Accessibility (not everyone will know or read the book)

2. Providing a second layer of learning through open access to primary sources and teacher lesson plans

3. Power sharing - commentary/exchange on the website

4. Community organization training