“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.”
Hip Hop Pioneer, Founder of the Universal Zulu Nation, Participant in the 1971 Hoe Avenue Peace Meeting
Author Julian Voloj with Afrika Bambaataa, photograph by Joe Conzo
-4 Fahrenheit meaning -20 Celsius meaning, man, it’s cold today, NYC!
“Ghetto Brother” will be part of the upcoming “Latinos in Comics” exhibition at Edgar Allan Poe Park in the Bronx.
A special treat on March 7 during the Opening Reception:
Panel Discussion: 2pm to 3pm.
Benjamin Melendez, founder of the legendary Ghetto Brothers, initiated the 1971 gang truce that led to the creation of hip hop in the South Bronx. In a conversation with author Julian Voloj, Melendez will discuss growing up in the South Bronx, the events that led to the gang truce, and how it feels to have his life turned into a graphic novel.
More information can be found here.
Leon and Simon are getting ready for the Latinos in Comics exhibition at the Poe Park visitors center.
In 2010, I photographed Benjamin Melendez for the Swiss magazine “tachles”. We met in his old neighborhood, the former Ghetto Brother turf, and he told me his story. It all started with these photographs.
Five years later, his story is now a graphic novel and the photographs I took back then became illustrations. Here an example of the way Claudia Ahlering turned my 2010 portrait of Benjy into a draft for the cover.
The graphic novel “Ghetto Brother” tells the story of the Hoe Avenue Peace Meeting and its central figure Benjamin Melendez aka Yellow Benjy.
In 1993, filmmaker Henry Chalfant and Rita Fecher, a teacher working in the South Bronx, put together the documentary “Flyin’ Cut Sleeves” which can be viewed here. Many of the illustrations used for the book stem from the footage filmed by Fecher in the 1970s and 1980s.