BY MARIE LODI
Photo courtesy of Charisse Bremond Weaver (Top row: Duane Bremond and Michael Bremond; Bottom row: Charisse Bremond Weaver, Walter Bremond, and Bertha Bremond)
When Charisse Bremond Weaver’s father, Walter Bremond, passed away when she was 18, it had a profound impact on her life. He was the founder of the Brotherhood Crusade, a grassroots organization dedicated to providing support to underserved youth and families in South Los Angeles for over 50 years. Growing up, Bremond Weaver saw the likes of power players such as Quincy Jones and Congresswoman Yvonne Burke drop by her home but she never really understood the scope of his influence until the day of his funeral, which was attended by thousands. “I could see the image like it was yesterday,” she says. “I told myself at the service that if I could touch a third of the people my father did, that if I could carry on that legacy, my life would matter.”
Still, it took a while for Bremond Weaver. She went away to college, and played basketball under a scholarship for Utah State University. As soon as she graduated, she returned home to work at the organization, under then-president Danny Bakewell. After an eight-year stint, she left to work for a few other nonprofits before Bakewell asked her to interview to be his successor. “I always dreamed about one day running the organization that my father started. This is the best job I could ever imagine,” Bremond Weaver recalls.
During the interview, Bremond Weaver talked about the vision she had for the future of Brotherhood Crusade, which would focus on working with young people. Now there are programs like the Youth Source Center, which partners with different companies, including MedMen, to provide job training and other employable skills. In addition, the organization also has programs that provide counseling and mentoring, health and wellness awareness, a STEM education initiative, among others.
Becoming involved in Brotherhood Crusade’s programs can be life-changing for young people who would otherwise not have these opportunities. Bremond Weaver talks about one student, Ashley, who started in the program when she was in the sixth grade. At the time, she was living in a car with her mom and her brother. “Her teachers had given up on her. They said, ‘you’re not gonna be able to get through to her, she doesn't listen,’ but they didn't know her circumstances,” Bremond Weaver explains. “We created a program many years ago, called Thinkfinity, where young people were challenged with STEM-related questions, as well as knowing current events in history. And she excelled in that program. It changed her outlook on school and education.” Now, Ashley’s a senior at San Francisco State University, majoring in public policy. “Ashley has never left us, and we have never left her,” she says.
Bremond Weaver points out that many of us are in the position we are in because of those who have helped us along the way — and that sense of community support is what she particularly loves about the Brotherhood Crusade. “It's a program full of caring people,” she says, adding, “I always say that I’m a president who is a person that loves their community. And if I can pour everything that I believe into our organization, and into our young people, I know they have an opportunity to make it.”