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The Harambee Ujima Story

The Harambee Ujima Black Arts and Culture Association is a cultural collaboration that advocates and advances the Black Arts Movement in order to preserve all forms of Black Art in the greater Pittsburgh region. The Association works to advance the Black Arts Movement for the next generation to re-establish pride and dignity in Black diaspora communities. 

“Harambee” is a Kenyan word meaning “together” and “Ujima” is the Kwanzaa principle meaning “collective work and responsibility.” Together, Harambee Ujima refers to the east African self-help tradition of building and maintaining communities. The Association works tirelessly to solidify the spirit of Harambee Ujima in Pittsburgh. Our purpose is to create an economic base for artistic culture and to give the underemployed opportunities to develop skills for entry into the marketplace, all while expanding the region’s diversity footprint that honors the spirit, integrity, and unity of all people.

The Harambee Black Arts Festival is a major community sponsored art and cultural event organized annually by the Association. In 1967, the Homewood organization Together Inc. hosted the first Harambee Black Arts Festival to address social and economic issues, create community togetherness, and promote the consciousness of Black pride. The Festival ignited a Black Arts Movement in Pittsburgh and built a cultural legacy. The Festival is the first of its kind to be held in Pittsburgh and was once the third largest Black Arts Festival in the nation. The Harambee Ujima Black Arts and Cultural Association was formed in 2001 to preserve the legacy of the festival. After a brief period of inactivity, the Festival relaunched in 2013 and has been hosted yearly in Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood. The Harambee Black Arts Festival celebrates 50 years in 2017.

Today, the Association works to give the unemployed and underemployed opportunities to develop skills and utilize talents to enter the marketplace, tapping into Pittsburgh’s growing maker movement while expanding the region’s diversity footprint. Harambee Ujima resides in the idea that rich African American cultural tradition combined with pools of creative talent can be used as an economic generator that will make the Black diaspora self-sustaining. The Association aims to create a new spirit of Harambee in the present day and focuses on the education of the masses through art, history and culture, and creative entrepreneurship.

Harambee Ujima is a consortium of the Diversity FOOTPrint Project with fiscal sponsorship from the Thomas Merton Center.