brotherhood crusade students

Brotherhood Crusade students returned this week from a special trip to the nation’s capital to learn about the history of gospel music and have an opportunity to meet with First Lady Michelle Obama


The History of Gospel” was hosted at the White House for a select group of youth who traveled from all over the country, including Hawaii, New Jersey, California, Virginia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and Maryland.

The educational workshop was introduced by First Lady Michelle Obama, hosted by Grammy Museum Executive Director Bob Santelli and featured some of the best musicians in the country talking about and performing soulful classics.  Special musical guests included Michelle Williams, Lyle Lovett, Darlene Love, Rhiannon Giddens and Rodney Crowell, who joined the First Lady and Santelli on stage to share their experiences, as well as answer questions from students.

At the event, the First Lady encouraged the student guests to draw strength from the stories of success and failure that the artists shared and to recognize that regardless of their career choices, education is the pathway to success.  First Lady Obama said, “The main thing I want young people who come through this house to understand is that life is inevitably filled with hurdles.  But the best way to prepare yourself for recovering from that failure is to get your education.  So if you’re passionate about anything, whether its music or business or medicine or rocket science, school is your pathway.  Education is your pathway.”

The First Lady Speaks at the History of Gospel Music Workshop

The Brotherhood Crusade youth, ages 17 – 18, left Los Angeles, CA on Saturday, April 11 and returned Tuesday, April 14  The fortunate students who participated in the trip included:

  1. Joshua Vega (Senior) Duke Ellington Continuation High School
  2. Rhys Soliman (Senior) Duke Ellington Continuation High School
  3. Ariana Scott (Senior) View Park High School
  4. Kamarie Gibson (Senior) Dorsey High School
  5. Ashley Wells (Senior) Dorsey High School.

The youth have their sponsor AEG to thank for underwriting the cost of their trip.  Martha Saucedo, Executive Vice President, External Affairs, AEG said ,”AEG is proud to be able to support community based organizations such as the Brotherhood Crusade.  We commend Brotherhood Crusade for their efforts to improve the lives of young people and provide them with enhanced educational opportunities. We also congratulate the students selected to participate in the trip and look forward to hearing about their experience upon their return.”

Charisse Bremond Weaver, Brotherhood Crusade CEO said, the young people who were selected to participate in this opportunity are overjoyed and deeply inspired from this experience.  We are so proud of them.  They learned so much and represented themselves so well on this trip.

We are grateful to our partner AEG who share our philosophy that by investing in the lives of our youth, we are investing in our future.  Exposing our young people to experiences such as this touches their lives in a profound way and puts them on the path to becoming thoughtful, skilled and cultured future leaders and employees.”

When the students were asked to speak about how the trip may have impacted them, all of youth reflected upon the experience as life-changing.

“This was definitely a life changing experience for me.  It helped me push myself to step outside of my comfort zone. When the group of 175 students were invited to ask the White House panel a question, my hand went up first!  Listening to the panelist’s stories, helped me to not get down on myself or get discouraged when I have a set back.

“Mr. George Weaver said it first and then the First Lady also said it, which made it extra real to never let obstacles get in the way of your goals and dreams.  Set backs are an opportunity for a strong comeback.  I feel ambitious and more determined to pursue my educational goals from this experience.” — Ariana Scott (Age 18)

View Park Prep

I feel like I was challenged. I will now take my education more seriously because of the accomplished people I met and the opportunity we had to visit two HBCU’s that have long histories of graduates who have had a profound impact on this country.  I now have dreams and aspire to have my own non-profit so that the incredible opportunities that the Brotherhood Crusade has given to me, I can give back to others.  I want to do better.  I want to be better in life and like the First Lady said, my education should be first and foremost, because with an education anything is possible.” Kamerie Gibson (Age 18)

Dorsey High School

This experience opened my eyes and gave me a different, more positive outlook on life.  On this journey I met people like me from different states across the country.  We were able to come together as a team and sing and learn about the history of gospel music.  I spoke to individuals who were established in their career, like lobbyist who work on Capitol Hill and educators.  They shared their career path.  It was inspiring for me and allowed me to focus on my own career and educational goals.  I feel that the Grammy Museum History of Gospel series at the White House and visiting Howard University did more than teach us about Gospel Music, it taught me how to appreciate where I come from and appreciate all cultures for who and what they are.   With struggle and failure also come success.  I will keep that with me and this trip to Washington D.C.” – Ashley Wells (Age 17)

Dorsey High School

This trip meant a lot to me.   I learned I don’t have to be prepared right away for high level jobs but be ready and have the ability to excel when the time comes.  I now know that failure is sometimes inevitable, but the people who are successful are those that recover from it.  When I came to D.C. I was nervous, but as soon as I got here, I felt ready.  I felt ready because the skills I learned from the Brotherhood prepared me for this journey. I feel like I represented myself, my school and the Brotherhood Crusade is a positive manner.” — Rhys Soliman (Age 18)

Duke Ellington Continuation School

“This trip has allowed me to really set a foundation for myself. I learned that sometimes you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.  This experience has been something that I am grateful for and I will never take it for granted.  I was able to practice all the skill sets I have been taught. Like putting the needs of others before myself, making sure I am respectful of others people’s surroundings.

” Making sure I differentiate myself from others, while still staying true to who I am. Sometimes what you want isn’t meant for you and sometimes the things that you don’t want are meant for you.  Also it’s not just about what you want, but what you need.  And I needed this trip to help expose me to the many possibilities that lie ahead.  As the First Lady said to me and 175 other students, education is key and I am the future of this country.  The Brotherhood Crusade has changed my life and I thank AEG for this opportunity.” — Joshua Vega (Age 18)

Duke Ellington Continuation School

The “History of Gospel” program was part of the “In Performance at the White House” concert series whose focus this April is celebrating the history and tradition of gospel music.   The afternoon education program gave students a brief overview of the origins of gospel music, informed them of important artists and discussed the strong legacy of gospel music in America.

“First Lady Obama said, “Gospel music has really played such an important role in our country’s history.  It really has, from the spirituals sung by slaves to the anthems that became the soundtrack to the Civil Rights Movement and to the hymns that millions of Americans sing every single day in churches all across the country.  It’s what helps connect us to God, to that Higher Power.  And for so many, when times are dark and when you’re struggling, Gospel music is that ray of hope and it gives you that strength.”

To learn more about Brotherhood Crusade, visit






Jeanine Taylor
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