Harambee wants to know how you feel

Jessica Cole

Student organization aims to promote expression through community events

There is a group on campus, a family of friends, that has come back from the brink of nonexistence and is just waiting for you to tell them how you feel. That group is Harambee.

Harambee is a student organization on campus that had been fading away, but was rejuvenated a few years ago and has since been gaining momentum.

“My freshman year, nobody knew what Harambee was,” Harambee President Adrian Neal said. “We (the current members) revived it and brought it back to life.”

Neal has been the president of Harambee since 2006.

Harambee’s purpose is “cultural expression through the arts,” Neal said. “We try to pull the community together through the arts.”

“Everybody’s got something that they want to express,” Neal said. “I want people to know that this is where they can come to express those feelings.”

One of Harambee’s main ideas is a sense of unity through expression. They aim to bring people together by allowing them to express their feelings.

“No matter what your background, no matter where you come from, everyone needs to express themselves,” Harambee Treasurer Bryan Gadson said.

Gadson said he believes it is easier to understand yourself when you gain a better understanding of other people, as well.

“We’re a portal for everyone to open up and express themselves,” Harambee member Brittany Brown said. “Sometimes you just need an outlet.”

Harambee is best known for its open mic nights where students can come and express themselves through the art of their choice. Open mic nights usually have good attendance.

Kaisha Sherrills, junior psychology major, is a regular attendee of these open mic nights. She feels Harambee is a good source of entertainment.

“African-Americans are commonly equated to being artistically inclined to music and dancing. I like Harambee because it focuses on cultural art,” Sherrills said. “It’s the intellectual side of entertainment.

“It has something to offer that no other organization on campus can,” Sherrills said.

Although Harambee usually has a good turnout at its events, the group itself is fairly small.

“We have a lot of support from the student body, but we have seven solid members,” Harambee Vice President Camille McCraney said.

The group is always open to new members and is accepting of all people.

“Anyone is welcome to join Harambee,” McCraney said. “We definitely do not discriminate at all.”

McCraney said Harambee is mostly known for its open mic nights, but the officers wish to broaden that so they are open to any new ideas involving the arts.

The group also is involved with the community and has done a lot of community service, such as earlier in the year when members assembled the mural of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife, made out of gumballs, at the King Kennedy Center.

sOn April 24, the group will be co-sponsoring a program with the Wick Poetry Center called “Art in Motion.” The event will take place during the afternoon, during which time 30 artists and musicians will be strategically placed across campus.

Most of the current seven solid members, or the executive board, are juniors and will graduate at the end of next year. Each of them has high hopes for Harambee’s future.

“My goal is to get all people to stop being afraid,” Neal said.

He wants people to feel more comfortable coming to events and expressing their emotions.

Other members have their own hopes for the group.

“I pray that we maintain the legacy that we have created for Harambee even after we’re all gone,” McCraney said.

A future for Harambee is the common theme in the hopes of current members, but each has his or her own personal goal for the group.

“Before I leave, I want people to know what Harambee stands for,” Gadson said. “We stand for freedom of speech and freedom of expression.”

Vallery Washington, Harambee’s publicist and the only freshman among the executives, hopes to get more people involved with the group next year.

“We need to carry on the legacy of Harambee,” Washington said.

Contact ethnic affairs reporter Jessica Cole at [email protected].