In Harambee City, Nishani Frazier explores black power’s rise within the Congress of Racial Equality and Cleveland’s essential role in this transition.
From CORE’s beginnings, the civil rights group was more fluid in its philosophies than might be assumed, with challenges to the concept of interracial nonviolent brotherhood coming from both inside and outside of the organization. These challenges were particularly pronounced in Cleveland, Ohio. From the 1940s through the 1960s, the Cleveland chapter epitomized CORE ambiguities with a tendency toward black organizational control, self-help, and self-defense, all of which eventually became foundations for black power.
Some of the Cleveland CORE members rose to positions within CORE’s national office, where they pushed for an open embrace of black power and grew their political and economic power. The Cleveland faction also brought with them a unique notion of black community uplift that moved CORE toward community development, a shift to economic populism that greatly shaped CORE’s black power period.
Harambee City corrects elements of national CORE’s early history, asserts the significant contributions of Cleveland CORE leaders, and focuses attention on the economic strategies of the movement. Readers will gain a new understanding about black power within CORE and gain insight into how CORE became one of the most dynamic civil rights organizations in the black power era.
About the author
Nishani Frazier is associate professor of History at Miami University. She is the coeditor, with Manning Marable and John McMillan, of Freedom on My Mind: The Columbia Documentary History of the African American Experience.
“Nishani Frazier has given us an important new story of the Congress of Racial Equality, demonstrating what happens when we center the history not on a bus full of Freedom Riders heading South but with a group of Cleveland activists encountering significant resistance to their direct action campaigns for racial equity in jobs, housing, and schools in the Midwest. In the process, Harambee City changes how we see the organization, the racial limits of northern liberalism, and the diversity of Black Power politics on the ground.”
—Jeanne Theoharis, author of The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks