Gang Culture in the Bronx

The hope and optimism of the 60’s exploded with the assassinations of leaders like RFK, MLK , and Malcolm X. These feelings of despair and hopelessness combined with the post Robert Moses conditions of the Bronx, set up the perfect conditions for the gangs that sprung up in The Bronx in the late 60s and early seventies. Chang argues that youth movements usually spring up and last for 5 years, ¬†putting both the youth and civil rights movements of the sixties and the subsequent gang activity in a perfect time frame.

The Ghetto Brothers were a revolutionary group of young people that emerged around 1968. Formed by the four Melendez brothers, it also included Charlie Suarez and Black Benjie. Although involved in gang activity, the group was taken under the wing of their teacher Manny Dominguez. With this, they attempted to make a transition from a gang to an organization. The Ghetto Brothers attempted to organize a gang truce in 1972. They were a great example of the youth energy that arose from the ashes of the sixties optimism.

One very interesting aspect of the ghetto brothers was their expression of their youthful energy and political ideology through their fun energetic music. The new youth movement that would spring up in the Bronx after the Ghetto Brothers disintegrated in 1973 would be influenced by the energy and sense of community of the Ghetto Brothers. This lead to the block parties that would eventually become the foundation of hip hop.