"All Pull Together" at Freedom School


Harambee, Swahili for “All pull together,” is the name of the opening session of each day of our Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program. We asked our Advisory Board Chair, Ward Bondurant, to reflect on his first experience at Harambee.

“As I sat in a pew in the back of the Chapel waiting to be introduced as a reader for early morning Harambee during Freedom School, I was scanning through the book that I’d picked out to read aloud that morning. As I flipped the big, color-filled pages to get a sense of the story and how I might want to read it, I noticed that one of the young “Scholars” was slowly moving back, away from the crowd of children at the front of the room, towards me. Coming to my pew, he started looking over my shoulder as I flipped the pages and then smoothly scooted into my row, sliding me over a bit and making a place for himself at the end of the pew. He then took control of the page turning and ultimately started over at the beginning of the book, asking me to help him read it. Smiling, I started from the beginning, and we read together quietly while the rest of the room occasionally erupted in the spasmodic chaos that is Harambee.

Our lives had very little in common. We live in different worlds. But for the moment, we were just two people wrapped up in the joy of reading, appreciating (without necessarily realizing it) the power that reading has to transport us to another world - in this particular story, the inside of a fishbowl! That’s Freedom School. That’s Emmaus House.”


Harambee is critical to the success of our Freedom Schools® program. It is an opportunity to harness the energy and excitement of our students before powering through our reading-intensive program each day. The students express their love for learning, each other, and their community through song, dance, and reflection. It is also just plain fun! 

This summer, we are excited to launch “Harambee for Emmaus House,” a campaign to support student achievement at our Freedom Schools program. Next month, you will learn more about how you can help stop summer learning loss. You can even sign up to join us for Harambee on a Wednesday morning in July. Stay tuned for more details.