When people think about gangs in the Bronx, they think about violence. But the young kids involved with the Ghetto Brothers were not the savages the media presented, but young citizens who tried to better their community.
Bill Leicht, according to Benjy Melendez “the oldest Ghetto Brother”, has continued his path as a social worker and is until today involved in various projects including Peace Dojo, the Tricorner Peace Council, and Urban Visions. For Bill, showing youth alternatives to violence is a continuation of the work he did back in the day with the Ghetto Brothers.
In an email he writes to me:
For decades I’ve been saying I am continuing my work – as a Ghetto Brother. You are the first to take that seriously. The problem is prejudice. We all know youth gangs are — criminals — so society looks at us and our organizations with fear, loathing, and total inability to hear the message. That is bad for the street and it is bad for “society.” The work that you, Henry Chalfant, Rita Fecher, Jeff Chang, Luis Barrios, David Brotherton and a very few others have created opens eyes, ears and hearts; very much it is needed and very much it is worth your effort. Thank you! Bill Leicht, the ‘oldest Ghetto Brother’ portrayed by Julian Voloj (2011)