The Harambee Organisation of Black Unity relaunches with our annual general meeting on 21st August. Join us to see how you can get involved in the movement
In the past year, we have spent an untold amount of time talking about racism following the outbreak of Black Lives Matter protests across the globe. As someone who writes about the problem for a living, I often get asked what the solution is, as though it is a hopeless struggle. We are so used to the idea that the best we can hope for is equal opportunity to be exploited that many of us can’t imagine anything other than reforming this wicked system. The truth is that the system isn’t broken: George Floyd, Black maternal deaths, and the shucking and jiving of the Sewage Sewell Report are all supposed to happen. As Malcolm told us, “this system can no more provide freedom justice and equality” for Black people ‘than a chicken can lay a duck egg’. The only solution is a revolution, but we have been conditioned to believe that overthrowing the system means picking up the gun and dying in a hail of police bullets; that the revolution is nothing more than a romantic impossible dream. Thankfully that is not true. The solution to our problem is relatively simple; the issue has always been convincing enough Black people there was something to fight for. If we understood ourselves as Black people and fought for the collective good of us all, then slavery, colonialism, and the current state of the world would not have been possible. Our power has always been in our unity and our struggles because we have been divided.
Malcolm founded the Organisation of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) along with a group of activists, including John Henrik Clarke and the first chair Lynn Shifflet in 1964. It was modeled on the Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and aimed to “unite everyone in the Western Hemisphere of African descent into one united force.” You likely remember the fire and plain-speaking of Malcolm, but his political legacy has been almost completely forgotten. The OAAU was built to be a mass membership organization with departments including Education, Health, Culture, and Economics. The purpose was to bring together Black people and organizations to collectively organize and build our future. For the thousands of pretenders who claim to be following in Malcolm’s legacy, we actually picked it up and built the organization that Malcolm was working on when he died.
After starting the Organisation of Black Unity, we merged with the Harambee Organisation founded in 1972 in Birmingham but fell into financial difficulties. The merger meant we now have the Marcus Garvey Centre in the city and also own Harambee House, which is currently being rented out to a hostel housing those in need. We are now in a position to relaunch the organization and build as it was meant to be. The organization works through the departments that coordinate activities and collaboration with other organizations. We currently have a Children and Young People (CYP) and Political Education departments but are seeking to build more, particularly around Health and Economics. Make It Plain is one of the projects of the organization.
On 21 August, we will be outlining the history and future of the organization, electing directors, and charting the way forward. The whole idea of the organization is to bring in as many Black people as possible so that we are self-sustaining and building alternatives to the institutions we know are against our interests. Freedom isn’t free, so there is a membership fee, with all those resources being plowed back into the work we are doing in the community.
We are currently based in Birmingham but welcome you to start your own chapter. It just takes ten members to establish a branch wherever you are based, providing the local on-the-ground solutions as you face them. One of the best things about Black radical politics is to quote Malcolm, “you can stay right in the organization that you are in” and still support the movement. We plan to build a “Black United Front” where we work with organizations in the community, there is no conflict with joining Harambee OBU and being a part of any other organization. The plan is to collaborate, coordinate and share resources to uplift Black communities.
Now is the time to build. Join the movement, and find out more on Saturday 21st August at 5.30 pm (GMT), free registration link below.