Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, the honoree
Charisse Bremond-Weaver, president of the Brotherhood Crusade
A/G Kamala D. Harris will receive the prestigious Bremond-Bakewell Pioneer of African-American Achievement Award at the Brotherhood Crusade’s annual dinner
Attorney General Kamala Harris’ roots are planted in northern California soil, where her parents met as graduate students at the University of California Berkeley in the 1960s.
“My sister and I grew up around adults who pretty much spent full time marching and shouting about this thing we call justice,” the career prosecutor said recently.
Harris’ body of work continues to center around ‘this thing we call justice,’ and for her many years of service, she will be honored at the Brotherhood Crusade’s Pioneer of African American Achievement Dinner on November 4 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Local newscaster Chris Schauble and radio deejay Pat Prescott will co-host the event, while soul balladeer Will Downing will provide the evening’s entertainment.
Sworn in as the state’s 32nd attorney general in January, Harris, who was elected to represent the interests of Californians, will receive the prestigious Bremond-Bakewell Award, named for Walter Bremond, who founded Brotherhood Crusade, a non-profit, community-service organization in 1968; and Danny J. Bakewell Sr., the non-profit’s institutional builder and current chairman of the board. Charisse Bremond-Weaver is the president and CEO.
“We’re honoring Kamala Harris because she’s a force for good,” said Bremond-Weaver. “With her ‘Back-on-Track’ program, she helps nonviolent offenders get trained to work or get additional schooling, so they may have some of the resources they need to break the cycle of crime.”
In January, Harris made history when she became the first female, first African-American and first Asian-American attorney general of California; she is also the first Indian-American attorney general ever in the United States. Harris is the author of Smart on Crime: A Career Prosecutor’s Plan to Make Us Safer, and recently launched a mortgage-fraud task force to protect consumers.
Proceeds from the Brotherhood Crusade’s pioneer dinner support a wide range of programs and services that benefit traditionally underserved communities in Southern California.
Valued supporters of the organization’s award dinner include Verizon; Wells Fargo; Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt; Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper; Microsoft; Northern Trust; Northrop Grumman; Southwest Airlines; The Berry Gordy Family Foundation; The California Endowment; US Soccer Foundation; The Gas Company; America Honda Motor Company, Inc.; AEG; Bruce Karatz and The Karatz Family Foundation; Chase; Comerica; CFSA; Edison; Enterprise Rent-A-Car; Kaiser Permanente; Mattel; NBC Universal; Neighborhood Economic and Educational Development; Nestle; Nielsen; Raytheon; SEIU Local 99; SEIU United Long Term Care Workers; Southern California Edison; State Farm Insurance; US Bank; Union Bank; and, many more corporate friends.
Their generous and continuing support makes it possible for Brotherhood Crusade to be a transformational force in the lives of local youths, offering everything from health and fitness programs, to education and economic empowerment. The nonprofit’s community building efforts also serve to uplift area families.
Soccer for Success, one of the organization’s newest programs, for instance, integrates physical activity, nutritional information and mentoring. Recently, the program expanded from one community-based site to three, along with four elementary schools and a middle school, where students can participate nearly year round. Soccer for Success operates with a “no cut” policy, so every child is included, and has the opportunity to engage in a meaningful experience.
Brotherhood Crusade’s Gang Reduction and Youth Development Program (GRYD) intervenes in the lives of 10-15 year olds in Southwest Los Angeles, who are particularly at risk of joining gangs, where there is a constant threat of violence, delinquency, and dropping out of school. GRYD sites include Manual Arts High School, Foshay Learning Center, Obama Preparatory School, Menlo Elementary School, the EXPO Center, and the African American Unity Center, where students are offered alternatives to create positive outcomes.
At the Pasadena Youth Sports League, more than 1,100 children have the opportunity to participate in an after-school program that helps them build confidence and esteem, develop interpersonal skills, and learn the importance of teamwork, all while becoming physically fit. Recently a young man, whose mother has AIDS, indicated that his involvement in the program helped him cope with the stress of his mom’s illness.
In the area of education, the Brotherhood Crusade offers tutoring through its Mentor & Me program at Horace Mann Junior High School, where 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, get the academic support and nurturing they need at a critical moment in their young lives. Remedial tutoring is also available to help bring students’ academic performance up to grade level.
‘Thinkfinity’ Bowl engages youth from area middle and high schools to compete in fun academic games that yield prizes and honors, while the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program works to reverse the tendency of South Los Angeles students to under achieve in math and science.
The Supplemental Educational Services initiative, which the Brotherhood Crusade backs and which is available to all South Los Angeles students attending Title 1 schools, also focuses on improving math and science proficiency, as well as English skills. A complementary program, March to 1000, aims to take youths as high as they can go on the Academic Proficiency Index (API), which assigns schools a ranking from 200 (worst) to 1000 (best).
‘Books and Basketball Camp’ is one of Brotherhood Crusade’s most anticipated programs of the year, which features a week of instruction around math and science, financial literacy, social and personal development, health, and, of course, basketball. A host of former and current NBA players take this fee-free camp to the hoop.
In terms of economic empowerment, the ‘Taking Financial Control Money Management Program’ teaches youths about dollars and sense. Geared towards teens 15-19, who attend monthly club meetings, the curriculum includes an Individual Development Account component that allows them to receive a 2-to-1 match on every dollar saved. So a participant who accumulates $1,000, has that amount matched with $2,000, bringing their total savings to $3,000.
Additionally, the Community Financial Education Program (CFEP) teaches the basics of personal finance, and helps South Los Angeles residents develop habits and attitudes that positively influence them for the rest of their lives. The program is based on the philosophy that learning about money is as important as earning it, and that effective money management is a result of disciplined behavior. CFEP puts participants on the path to a debt-free future, as well as to wealth accumulation. It encourages saving, introduces investment vehicles, and promotes a strong work ethic.
One cannot save and invest if one is out of work, so the Brotherhood Crusade is highly committed to youth employment, which assists in achieving job readiness, learning critical skills, and preparing for a meaningful career.
Other Brotherhood Crusade seasonal events include Fit Wednesdays, in partnership with KidsWalk Across America and Coast Produce, where on scheduled Wednesdays, families throughout South L.A. are invited to walk the perimeter of a local soccer field, engage in fun physical challenges, take home fresh fruits and veggies, and win prizes.
Coast Produce, along with EXPO Center and Dakota Communications, also sponsor the annual Very Healthy Happy Halloween Party, which is transforming the way children celebrate Halloween, substituting fresh fruit and healthy snacks for the traditional sugar-filled candies that children usually over indulge in during Halloween. Every November, the Brotherhood Crusade identifies families in need, and specially prepares food baskets for them to ensure a Happy Thanksgiving.
Brotherhood Crusade, which pioneered directing donations to underserved communities, supports a great many other agencies in their efforts to add value to the community. They assist more than 100 other non-profits, including Mothers In Action, Why Can’t We Make A Difference Foundation, Jenesse Center, African American Unity Center, Friends of EXPO Center, Pasadena Sports League, Hillsman Drug Abuse Center and Chess Tutors. Visit www.brotherhoodcrusade.org.