Ghetto brother : warrior to peacemaker / Julian Voloj and Claudia Ahlering.

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    • Abstract:
      Summary: "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"-- provided by publisher.
    • Notes:
      "Based on true events"--Title page verso.
      Includes bibliographical references (page 127).
    • ISBN:
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Booklist Reviews 2015 May #2

*Starred Review* As the 1960s became the 1970s, the Bronx was represented to the rest of the world as a hellhole plagued by violent youth gangs. The Puerto Rican Ghetto Brothers, under president Benjy Melendez, started to change that. Inspired by an ambassador from the Black Panthers, Melendez determined to make peace among the gangs. The Ghetto Brother he sent to mediate one dispute got killed, however. Nixing retaliation, Melendez instead called a meeting of gang presidents to make a truce and turn gangs from internecine battle to community service. Many younger members got involved in the hip-hop movement. Using Melendez as narrator-protagonist, Voloj places the seminal events of November and December 1971 in the contexts of post–WWII Puerto Rican immigration and difficult assimilation to New York, and of Melendez's personal development as he learned of and adopted his Jewish heritage. Ahlering bases her artwork partly on news and documentary photography, although she doesn't incorporate or copy photos but draws on them for detail, composition, and tonal variety in her black-and-white pen and brush drawings that tip the hat to Ben Shahn and Käthe Kollwitz. A fine documentary graphic novel of cultural and personal change for the better. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

PW Reviews 2015 May #2

This graphic novel debut for Voloj and Aherling is essentially a fictionalized biography of Benjamin "Benjy" Melendez, founder of the Ghetto Brothers gang (one of many Bronx gangs in the 1960s). Melendez led his gang to a nonviolent resolution to the conflict arising from the death of another gang member named Black Benjie in 1971. Black Benjie was killed while acting as a mediator between rival gangs, and this volume describes the events leading up to his death. The authors follow Melendez's life from his move to the Bronx as a child to the present day. The writing is matter-of-fact and informative, but the narrative is poorly structured—some scenes are repetitive while others skip too far ahead, obliterating any tension. Additionally, despite the clear passion of the creative team, the art and writing are not harmonious, with too many things crowded into panels, leaving no room for captions. Yet the importance of this fascinating piece of history comes through, despite the flawed execution. (May)

[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC