On May 13, I attended the annual benefit of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol, a nationally recognized organization in New York Citys Harlem community providing development, empowerment and long-term support services to local Black and Latino youth 8 to 22 years old. Gotham Hall, the benefit venue, exploded that night with energy, pride, boundless optimism and wrenching tributes of achievement, vividly recalling The Network Journals annual 40 Under Forty Achievement Awards dinners.
I had learned of Bro/Sis only about three weeks earlier at the Virgin Islands Literary Festival and Book Fair in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, when business writer/editorial consultant Ann Graham asked to buy a copy of each of the four issues of TNJ that were on display with my books. Graham was particularly excited by the Summer 2015 issue, whose cover featured six of our 40 Under Forty honorees for that year.
What will you do with them? I asked her. She would share them with her husband, Stephen Graham, who served as treasurer on the board of directors of The Brotherhood/ Sister Sol, she said. Had I heard of the organization? she wanted to know. I hadnt, even with its odd name.
Childhood friends Khary Lazarre-White and Jason Warwin founded Bro/Sis in 1994 a year after TNJ when they were seniors at Brown University. At the 2016 benefit, Lazarre-White, J.D., and Warwin, now distinguished, graying middle-aged men, talked about the impact of their 20-plus year effort: 90 percent of Bro/Sis alumni graduated from high school, compared to an overall 40 percent graduation rate for Black and Latino boys in New York City; 95 percent are working full time or are enrolled in college 40 percent of Black men in New York City 18 to 65 years old are unemployed; none of its members or alumni members are incarcerated, less than 1 percent have a felony conviction, and the teenage pregnancy rate of its members is less than 2 percent, against Harlems 15 percent. My husband, Fritz, and I heard it all as guests of the Grahams. By the time the evening was over, Bro/Sis had raised more than $250,000 in on-the-spot donations, with additional funds coming in from a silent auction.
I have been honored to see our youth achieve in spite of the suffocating conditions that they face due to poverty and race and Americas continued inability to provide a high-level education and stable employment for all its citizens. Our young people have built resilience, developed skills, honed their minds and critical-thinking skills and become committed and so they have endured and become successful, Lazarre-White writes on the organizations website, brotherhood-sistersol.org.
And from Warwin, Providing long-term holistic support, culturally relevant education and unconditional love became the hallmark of our organization. Indeed, demonstrating the power of love, through the formation of supportive relationships and true bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood, is at the core of our method of healing our community.
On June 23, 2016, TNJ will hold its 19th Annual 40 Under Forty Achievers Awards Dinner at The Crowne Plaza Times Square Hotel in New York City. How is it, many ask, that year after year TNJ finds 40 Black men and women who are high achievers and leaders as professionals and business owners, and who also give back to their community? We are able to find them because organizations like Bro/Sis are busy stacking our pipeline.
Profiles by Toccara Castleman, Janelle Gordon, Rosalind McLymont, Raymond Mora, Nafisa Rachid, Bevolyn Williams-Harold, and Sergie Willoughby