Harambee House

Welcome to Harambee House!

The purpose of Harambee House is to provide social, emotional, and academic support to students of African descent at Wellesley College. Additionally, Harambee House provides enlightening cultural activities for the Wellesley College community, as well as educational, cultural and social activities for students, faculty and staff of African descent. Named after the Swahili term for "working together," Harambee has been serving the Wellesley community of African descent and the college since 1970.

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Harambee House opened with the mission to provide a central location to meet the needs of Black students.


The history of Harambee House dates back to May 31, 1969, when the alumnae of Alpha Kappa Chi (AKX), the Wellesley classical society, voted to close their house and return it to the College. The members of Ethos, a student organization for students of African descent that had been established in 1968, and the College Administration began completing plans to convert AKX into the campus' Black Student Center, to be called Harambee [Swahili for "working together"] House. In September of 1970, Harambee House officially opened with the mission to provide a central location to meet the needs of Black students including studying, tutoring, and social events, while serving as a cultural resource for Black heritage to enlighten the college community at large.



History of Juneteenth

According to the official website of the historical event, Juneteenth is ‘the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.’ Other than marking a pivotal date of significance in American history, Juneteenth also serves as an opportunity for African Americans to cherish their culture and heritage. 

More than 155 years old, Juneteenth celebrates the liberation of African Americans from slavery in the U.S. The reason for it being celebrated on June 19 is because, on this day in 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger of the Union Army landed in Texas, he brought the news that the Civil War had ended and all slaves were free. 

The proclamation declaring the abolishment of slavery was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, in the nation’s third year of an ongoing civil war. Known as the Emancipation Proclamation, it declared that ‘all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State […] shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.’ Granger’s arrival at Texas was to enforce this decree, which had originally gone into effect two years earlier. 

The news had come as a shock to more than 250,000 slaves in Texas who were unaware of it.

On June 19, in the city of Galveston, Granger publicly read General Order No. 3, which stated: ‘The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.’

As to why the news of the abolition of slavery reached Texas so late, there are varying accounts. One story states that the messenger bearing the news was assassinated on his journey. Some historians believe that the report on the Emancipation Proclamation was withheld by slave owners in Texas on purpose so that they can go about their business as usual and keep the labor force working. Historians also note that, until 1865, Texas remained a Confederate State, so Lincoln’s proclamation could not have been enforced until Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union Army and they took over. 

Either way, Granger’s arrival with the grand news stirred the air with jubilance and massive celebrations across the state. A former slave named Felix Haywood gave his recount of the first celebration in 1865 in the book “Lone Star Pasts: Memory and History in Texas” — ‘We was all walkin’ on golden clouds […] Everybody went wild […] We was free. Just like that, we was free.’

Our Space

Harambee House features a spacious reception area and living room on the upper level tastefully decorated with Africana-inspired paintings and sculptures. Adjacent to the living room is the library, a treasure trove of Africana resources and documentaries, featuring books, newspapers, and magazines, most of which are written by or relating to people of African descent. Because of its inspiring features, Harambee House is a meeting space for many organizations and departments on campus. The House also features a full kitchen and den on the lower level. In addition, there are computers available for Harambee House student use.

Harambee House remains an attractive space for students because it continues to be a comfortable and welcoming space, both physically and socially. A long standing hub of support for many generations of Wellesley students of African descent, Harambee House is still considered a "home away from home" for many students. Along with the magnificent study and relaxation space it provides, the house also hosts a variety of cultural events, lectures, and receptions throughout the year.


Reserving Spaces in Harambee House

Harambee House is a multi-use space with a spacious living room, full kitchen, and lower level den.  "The House" is an attractive and welcoming space, both physically and socially. Along with the magnificent study and relaxation space it provides for students, the house also is a meeting place for many organizations and departments on campus, and hosts a variety of cultural shows, lectures, and receptions throughout the year.

To request reservation of a space at the Harambee House for an event or meeting, go to 25 Live. Click on the "Event Creation and Editing" tab to go through the system's event creation process. You will be prompted to log in using your Wellesley domain username and password. We strongly suggest that you reserve your space at least two weeks in advance. You can also view events in the house via 25 Live and search "Harambee". Harambee House student organizations and students, faculty, & staff of African descent are given first priority with respect to space requests.

All parties who reserve the space must adhere to the rules of the house and be accountable for the space during their reservation time.

If you have any questions or concerns about reservations, please email harambeehouse@wellesley.edu or  call 781.283.2133.