L.A.'s social justice epicenter since 1976

Brothers, Sons, Selves

Left to right: Cameron Williams, Alfonso Aguilar, Eddie Flores, Damien Valentine, Timothy Walker and Qadir Johnson campaigning for passage of Prop 47.

Brothers, Sons, SelvesL.A. needs its young people—each and every one of them. Today's students and jobseekers, in all of their rich diversity of ancestry, cultural background and gender expression, are the leaders of tomorrow. Our future success depends on the opportunities available to them right now. That's why Liberty Hill, alongside The California Endowment and a strong group of grassroots community organizations, began incubating a youth organizing program called the Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition in 2011. After six years with Liberty Hill, Brothers, Sons, Selves has developed enough to continue its work as an independent coalition. It is now a national model for the transformative impact of community organizing on the lives of people affected by injustice, building leadership skills among its youthful members by engaging them in advocacy campaigns. Read our case study brief.

Why did President Barack Obama want to meet and thank Brothers, Sons, Selves participants when he visited Los Angeles in August 2014? Because the Coalition's first campaign scored a victory in the Los Angeles Unified School District that served as a model for a similar effort in San Francisco, a statewide legislative campaign and even President Obama's "My Brother's Keeper" initiative. The members of Brothers, Sons, Selves had persuaded school officials to adopt a School Climate Bill of Rights, which ended suspensions for "willful defiance," a discredited disciplinary practice left over from failed "zero tolerance" policies that unfairly targeted African American and Latino young men. The new policy resulted in a sharp drop in student suspensions, and the school district is now continuing to craft unified policies "to invest in learning, not incarceration."

The Brothers, Sons, Selves partnership supports the following organizations through grant investments, leadership development, technical support and alliance building: Children's Defense Fund California, Community Coalition, Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network, InnerCity Struggle, Khmer Girls in Action, Labor/Community Strategy Center, the Social Justice Learning Institute, the Weingart East L.A. YMCA and Youth Justice Coalition.

Brothers, Sons, Selves Story Gallery

Dylan Gray meets President Barack Obama

Youth leader Dylan Gray of the Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition and Social Justice Learning Institute meets President Barack Obama at Los Angeles Trade Technical Institute.

From the beginning, the testimony of young Angelenos has been central to the goals and strategies of the Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition. The Coalition itself was formed in response to findings from a series of meetings with youth across Los Angeles County to discuss how and why they and their peers were facing a health crisis. Since then, a cohort of 25 students drawn each year from member organizations has met monthly to plan and execute advocacy campaigns with actions at the city, county and state levels. Dylan Gray, Josh Ham, Eddie Flores and Jerry Alvarez tell their Brothers, Sons, Selves stories and their personal roles in bringing about positive social change.


An Interactive Timeline

Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition members gathered at LAUSD headquarters

Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition members gathered at LAUSD headquarters to support the passage of the School Climate Bill of Rights, a set of measures ensuring student access to a safe and effective learning environment.

Since Brothers, Sons, Selves launched in 2011, its members have been heard by elected officials, government agencies and voters. They have testified before state senators and assembly members, and an honored few have been introduced to and thanked for their work by President Barack Obama. Explore an interactive timeline detailing the Coalition's greatest campaigns and accomplishments.