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Since the 1930s, Harambee has been a hub for African American culture and heritage. Originally settled by German immigrants in the 1800s, the African American community grew over the years and reached its height by the 1970s. Harambee was particularly attractive to working class families because of the modest and tidy single-family homes and proximity to downtown.

In the mid-1970s, residents adopted the name Harambee, the Swahili word for pulling together. Harambee's organizing culture is rooted in the civil rights movement. During the 1970s and 1980s, the neighborhood became organized with over one hundred active block clubs. Residents fought against school and housing segregation, and other forms of institutional racism and divestment facing their community.

Harambee has become a model for urban renewal as residents and community leaders work together to reduce crime, develop state-of-the-art housing, bring social services and educational programs to the neighborhood, support a flourishing arts community, and provide healthy living options such as Growing Power's farmers' market operating in the heart of the neighborhood.

On August 18, 2011, the Harambee Great Neighborhood Initiative (HGNI) celebrated six years of accomplishments and shared with the community its plans for the future. The following videos tell a story of successful neighborhood revitalization:

Chapter 1: Introduction & History

At the heart of the city, Harambee is a crucial part of the Milwaukee community. A vibrant neighborhood of invested citizens and organizations, Harambee has proud traditions and a rich history. Watch video.

Chapter 2: Community Driven Solutions

HGNI has helped inspire, organize and support community-led projects, from neighborhood cleanups to block watches to family-oriented social gatherings. Here, we share the story of the Play & Grow Lot, representing the work powered by Harambee neighbors in partnership with GroundWork. Watch video.

Chapter 3: Connecting Community & Resources

Resources may be designed to meet the needs of a community, but there's no guarantee the community knows how to access them. HGNI partners use their expertise to connect those dots. Since 1992, Riverworks has worked to stabilize the area's business and economic base. With the emergence of HGNI, Riverworks and other partners could expand their efforts in the community. Watch video.

Chapter 4: New Homes, New Opportunities

HGNI stakeholders came together for a common cause and their commitment has sparked others to join. Over the past three years, Harambee has seen major housing investments by groups such as Habitat For Humanity, the MLK Economic Development Corporation, Inner City Redevelopment Corporation, and Allied Churches Teaching Self-Empowerment (ACTS). Melissa Goins, Founder and President of Maures Development, is another developer investing in Harambee. Watch video.

Chapter 5: Looking To The Future

As HGNI completes its first phase in 2011, the group asks itself questions -- How can we sustain our efforts to grow community? How can we better serve Harambee? How can we develop the next wave of leadership? Watch video.


Rick Banks
Community Engagement Specialist
Harambee Great Neighborhood Initiative

2772 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53212