Peace Maker Slain! The Death Of Black Benjy & The Bronx Peace Treaty of 1971

Updated: Jul 5



The Death Of Black Benjy


The Sacrificial Lamb


On December 2, 1971, an event took place that would change The Bronx forever. The Ghetto Brothers mission of peace wasn’t getting through to the gangsters. Words of war were brewing in the streets. There was beef in between a couple of gangs and Yellow Benjy sent Cornell Benjamin aka Black Benjy (The Ambassador of Peace) and a couple of GBs to establish peace between these particular Warlords.


By the time the GBs arrived, things were starting to get out of hand. Black Benjy raised his hands and said “Yo Brothers We came to talk Peace!!” According to documentation someone cried out “Peace shit!!” and the rumble ensued. Black Benjy was killed in the mayhem.

Excerpt from Julian Voloj and Claudia Ahlering’s graphic novel:

Ghetto Brother: Warrior to Peacemaker.


This event sent shockwaves through the entire city of New York. Knowing that Black Benjy was about peace, and was still killed, infuriated the gangs. The streets cried out through intense anger and senseless violence. President Karate Charlie was preparing the GBs for revenge. It was about to get real ugly. 70


The GBs had a storefront on 174th where the partnering gangs and the media were all there waiting for the Ghetto Brothers to declare war. However, their words were “We are going to do nothing. We have to figure out another way of resolving this crisis.” As soon as he said that the media stopped writing and shut their cameras off. The media wanted a street war that they could film. There was supposed to be barbarians shedding rivers of senseless blood in the streets. Instead they witnessed some very intelligent young men make a righteous decision.


This decision can be looked at as Hip-Hop’s “Manifest Destiny”. Even After the death of Black Benjy, Yellow Benjy was still dead set on the mission for peace. Meanwhile, Karate Charlie summoned all the GBs for war. As far as he was concerned, no one was safe. The one thing that changed his mind was a visit to Miss Gwendolyn’s (Black Benjy’s mother) house. It was her wisdom that reminded Karate Charlie of Black Benjy’s purpose in the first place: Peace!


She didn’t want there to be anymore bloodshed in her son’s name, especially since he died for peace. Her wise words led to a powerful choice that paved the way for the existence of Hip-Hop as we know it.




The Bronx Peace Treaty of 1971


The Ghetto Brothers regrouped and organized a peace treaty. On December 8, 1971 they invited the leadership of every organized gang they could contact to the Boys Club on 1665 Hoe Ave. After all of the representatives were able to air out their own personal beefs and neighborhood concerns, peace was agreed upon and a gang truce was established. The Bronx Peace Treaty of 1971 was signed and a spiritual weight was lifted off of the shoulders of The South Bronx.


This by no means squashed every beef in the Bronx, but there was a mutual agreement to maintain peace as a majority rule. It was a social sigh of relief. These gangs gave themselves a sense of hope that they were never going to get from the New York City government. The Peace Treaty was a major catalyst in breaking territorial barriers. Block parties and basement parties containing colors from many sets began partying together and having fun.


This comradery ushered in the next phase of youth development through self-sufficiency. (forefront of The Elements). The peace meeting of gangs at The Boys and Girls Club was for show and the public. Black Benjy’s death and its pain still wasn’t resolved along with many other ongoing wars and beefs. So a second meeting without the media was held at the Ghetto Brothers Clubhouse where confessions and a true overstanding of no retaliation was overstood.



Excerpt from Julian Voloj and Claudia Ahlering’s graphic novel:

Ghetto Brother: Warrior to Peacemaker.

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  • What else was happening in the world  before 1973 to set the stage for Hip Hop's birth?


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