BHSS alumnus Frank Lopez’s film

December 11th, 2012

Watch alumnus Frank Lopez’s 7-min film on BHSS on and read his blog from Game Changers Project.

Frank’s Game Changers Blog:

The Brotherhood: Harlem Rites of Passage Program
By Frank Antonio López 
December 2012

“They say it takes a village to raise a child.. I’ve come to feel the opposite.. it takes a child to raise a village.”

– Enmanuel Candelario (Brotherhood Chapter Leader)

It has been eleven years since I first stepped through the doors of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol, a youth organization in Harlem that provides comprehensive, holistic and long-term support services to young people who range in age from eight to twenty-two. The little red brownstone in West Harlem, a predominantly black and brown neighborhood, stands as a beacon of hope for so many in our community. Not just for the young people who play and learn and laugh and love within these walls, but for their family members who trust their children to the amazing staff of counselors, mentors, older brothers and sisters.

Never had I heard of an organization whose focus was to nurture young people in mind, body and spirit, making it a point to empower us with knowledge of ancestry and self. It was here that I learned what it meant to be an Afro-Latino, descending from the Tainos of the Caribbean, the enslaved Africans brought over to Quisqueya (commonly known as the Dominican Republic side of the island) and the Spaniards whose tongue I’ve inherited. It was here that I unearthed so much of what it means to be a man, a brother and leader, digging deep within myself and taking time to grow in honor of my gentle spirit and love for humanity. It was here where I learned about the leaders and lovers who have paved the way with poetry, peace and progress. I felt connected to a community united by a love of where we all come from and where we’re heading. I felt proud to be me.

I first started as a member of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol’s literary arts program called The Lyrical Circle, coming together with my peers to explore our world through spoken word poetry and hip hop. From there, I became involved as a mentor for the after-school program and a summer day camp counselor with the youngest amongst us. In 2005 I traveled with the International Study Program (ISP) to South Africa for a month, learning about the anti-apartheid movement and having the great privilege of meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In 2009 I traveled yet again with ISP, this time to Brazil where we learned about the land conservation movements in the quilombos (Brazilian hinterland settlements founded by people of African origin). All of these experiences contributed to my understanding of the world we live in and the interdependent perspective that guides my life today.

The Brotherhood/Sister Sol has for over a decade been my home away from home. I owe so much of the man I am today to the family I have come to know here. I have made a few films about this amazing organization and being able to highlight them once again for The Game Changers Project was yet another blessing. I am surrounded by game changers on a daily basis, reminding me of the power we hold within our communities to create the world we want to see, one day and one child at a time. Peace.