GHETTO BROTHER- Warrior to Peacemaker
Julian Voloj, Claudia Ahlering
Introduction by Jeff Chang, author of "Can't Stop Won't Stop:
A History of the Hip Hop Generation"
An engrossing and counter view of one of the most dangerous elements of American urban history, this graphic novel tells the true story of Benjy Melendez, son of Puerto-Rican immigrants, who founded, at the end of the 1960s, the notorious Ghetto Brothers gang. From the seemingly bombed-out ravages of his neighborhood, wracked by drugs, poverty, and violence, he managed to extract an incredibly positive energy from this riot ridden era: his multiracial gang promoted peace rather than violence. After initiating a gang truce, the Ghetto Brothers held weekly concerts on the streets or in abandoned buildings, which fostered the emergence of hip-hop. Melendez also began to reclaim his Jewish roots after learning about his family’s dramatic crypto-Jewish background.
"NYC set book to seek out at MoCCA"
"A fine documentary graphic novel of cultural and personal change for the better. Black-and-white pen and brush drawings that tips the hat to Ben Shahn and Käthe Kollwitz."
-Booklist starred review
"I am deeply grateful for this book to share with my students, many, if not most of whom are involved in gangs and many of whom live in the South Bronx. Mr. Melendez's message of peacemaking is direly needed. My gratitude to the author, illustrator, Mr. Melendez, and NBM for publishing this story that *needs* to be heard."
Brooklyn, New York
"There’s no doubt that the Ghetto Brothers are an influence in NYC's urban history. They paved the way for many who were searching for a sense of identity, a voice and social justice."
Jorge “Popmaster Fabel” Pabon
Renowned Hip Hop dancer, Choreographer and Historian
"The gang truce back in the early seventies with Brother Benjy, with the Ghetto Brothers, Black Spades, the Savage Skulls, the Savage Nomads, Seven Immortals, the Reapers, Turbans, with all the major street organizations, was powerful. It was the time to put down the weapons against each other and try to organize… It was deep. It was powerful… We were all in the same game."
Founding Father of Hip Hop, Universal Zulu Nation
Participant in the 1971 Truce Summit
"The story of the Ghetto Brothers is the story of the Bronx in the 1970s… The Ghetto Brothers are still considered legendary by those who know."
Hip Hop Historian
“Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation”
6x9, 128pp., B&W, trade pb., $12.99;
shipping mid April