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Harambee literally means "all pull together" in Swahili, thus the Annual Tarrant County Harambee Festival pulls the citizens of North Texas together for a fun filled day of food, fun, music, and health and cultural awareness in celebration of our shared history. Traditionally held every 1st Saturday in October, the festival is "free to the public" and is preluded by it's Annual Seafood, Chicken and Blues Festival on the preceeding Friday night. The festival attracts 5,000+ attendees during the two day event.
The Annual Tarrant County Harambee Festival is presented by Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society (TCBH&GS). TCBH&GS is a non-profit organization whose mission is to locate, collect, analyze, organize and preserve African-American historical contributions that's used to educate, empower and interpret, the African-American experience through art, history and culture in the areas of education, science, business, politics, sports, art, music, and performing arts in Tarrant County. TCBH&GS is headquartered in the Lenora Rolla Heritage Center Museum located at 1020 East Humbolt Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76104.
Monday - Friday
10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
The Annual Tarrant County Harambee Festival is the brain-child of Deborah Tate-Lewis, conceived in 2008 and brought into fruition in 2010. The festival was conceived as a means to bring awareness to the Evans Avenue Plaza and the Terrell Heights Community, and to offer the community a free event that promotes love and harmony to bridge the gap between people of all colors. With the help of then Council Lady Kathleen Hicks and the TCBH&GS Board of Direcgtors, Ms. Sarah Walker, Ms. Jayn Higgins, Ms. Kenya Sturns, Ms. Marva Easter, Ms. Cheryl Thomas, Ms. Kate Lattimore, Ms. Beverly Oakes, Mrs. Brenda Sanders-Wise, and Mr. Vincent Battles, the inaugural festival was a huge success. It is now a major fundraiser for TCBH&GS.
The festival began as a one-day event that included local professional entertainment, community talent showcase, the Kidz Zone and cultural awareness activities. Over the past decade, the festival has been nurtured by the TCBH&GS Board of Directors, the Tarrant County Harambee Festival Steering Committee, and many community volunteers; and with the support of sponsors, partners, and vendors, the festival has expanded into a two-day event that's evolved as follows:
- 2010 Inaugural Annual Tarrant County Harambee Festival
- 2011 Annual Health and Wellness Expo
- 2011 Annual Anti-Bullying Rally partnership with FWISD
- 2012 Annual Parade
- 2013 Annual Outstanding Achievement Award
- 2014 Annual Poetry Slam hosted by Michael Guinn
- 2018 Annual Friday Night Seafood, Chicken & Blues
- 2020 Virtual Festival Streaming Live on Social Media
- 2021 Change location to the William M. McDonald YMCA
- 2022 Greek Awareness Stroll
A warm-hearted thanks to all of our stakeholders playing a vital role in the growth and continuity of the festival.
The Location... McDonald YMCA and immediate vacinity
The William M. McDonald YMCA is located at 2701 Moresby Street in the Renaissance Heights Community on the Southeast side of Fort Worth, Texas.
In 1903, the first YMCA was organized to serve Fort Worth’s African American community, and in 1919 the branch became a part of the Fort Worth YMCA. This rented space was small and insufficient in serving the city’s growing population of minority youth. This community need came to the attention of William Madison “Gooseneck” McDonald, a well-respected politician and businessman who is widely regarded as the first Black millionaire in Texas. He established the first African American owned bank and built a substantial business empire in what was known as downtown Ft. Worth’s Black Business District. In 1944, McDonald purchased an old hotel building at 1600 Jones Street and donated it to the organization. It was subsequently renamed the McDonald YMCA and was used from 1944 to 1971.
The McDonald YMCA moved to its Berry Street location in 1971 and merged with the Southeast YMCA to become the McDonald Southeast YMCA in 2013. The McDonald Southeast YMCA relocated to its present 36,500 square feet state of the arts facility in January of 2019 and now bears the full name of its most generous donor William M. McDonald YMCA.
It is our great honor to celebrate the legacy of Mr. William “Gooseneck” McDonald in this year’s location of the Tarrant County Harambee Festival.