8 Million Stories, a series of short video portraits of New Yorkers. Enjoy!
Here in Episode 1, community activist Bill Leicht tells the story of how he began working with the Ghetto Brothers, one of the largest Bronx street gang of the 1970’s. Bill was introduced to Benjamin ”Yellow Benjy” Melendez, one of the founding members of the Ghetto Brothers, by Evelina Antonetty of the United Bronx Parents. Eventually, Bill became the eldest member of the Ghetto Brothers, witnessing first-hand their struggle to transition from street gang to community group. Bill also offers his perspective on the almost mythical Hoe Avenue Peace Meeting.
Here in Episode 2, DJ Rockin’ Rob takes us to his old stomping grounds in the South Bronx. Rob and his Mean Machine Crew made a name for themselves by throwing jams. Clark Park, conveniently located on the corner of 143rd Street and 3rd Avenue, across from Rob’s family’s apartment, was the outdoor venue of choice. These street parties were often thrown without any permission from the city authorities, DJ’s had to steal electricity from lampposts and traffic lights to power their equipment. As you will see, many went to great lengths to keep the titles of their most prized records a secret. Rockin’ Rob is from the old school and here he tells his story.
Luis Lugo is one of the original members of the The Royal Javelins, a Bronx gang that dates back to the late 1960’s. It was in the early 70’s that the Javelins began to make headlines. They had articles written about them and were featured in documentaries as one example of the deteriorating situation that gave the Bronx its’ bad reputation. Lugo brings us to the location of the Javelins old club house in the area close to the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club on Hoe Avenue which was the site of the peace meeting between Bronx gangs in 1971. It was at the Club that Lugo got a part time job in 1974 through the their gang outreach program, which he says changed his life. Today, Lugo still holds his part time job at the Club working with the Bronx youth of today. His full time job, well, some would say that it is somewhat unorthordox considering his past.