Harlem-based youth organization Brotherhood/Sister Sol recently hosted its 14th annual VOICES benefit gala. This year’s event was held at Gotham Hall in Midtown where journalist Soledad O’Brien hosted and entrepreneur and founder and Chairman of Essence Ventures LLC Richelieu Dennis was honored. The gala brought out several big names, including District Attorney of New York County Cy Vance Jr., former New York City Mayor David Dinkins and writer, director and actor Zora Howard. Approximately 500 other supporters attended the event. Nearly $1 million was raised at this year’s gala. White said the money will go to programs Brotherhood/Sister Sol provides, including job training, international study and college preparation.
Special performances included spoken word performances and reflections by current participants and alumni of Brotherhood/Sister Sol.
Dennis received the Madam CJ Walker Award and was praised for his work for bringing Essence back into Black leadership. The Madam CJ Walker award is presented annually to an individual whose business efforts are deeply connected to their philanthropic and social impact endeavors. Brotherhood/Sister Sol Executive Director and co-founder Khary Lazarre-White said the organization is dedicated to helping young people understand political realities. He explained that the fundraiser is where Brotherhood/Sister Sol receives a quarter of its funding.
“This is the time for us to really create a home,” he said. “We are always creating new programs and trying to advance our work with young people. Tonight is about growing the organization, creating artistic space for our young people, pushing back in our social justice space and helping young people develop holistic lives.” The evening also served as a kickoff to the Brotherhood/Sister Sol for the organization’s new 20,000 square foot building in Harlem. The six-story state-of-the-art building will break ground this summer and will house training facilities, a technology center and an arts/performance space.