The above pictures has broken the internet. It’s been shared more than 140,000 times, it’s gotten over a million likes and the comments are in the 20’s of thousands. In case you’ve been living under a rock, you may not have heard of Humans of New York. What started as a social media account offering people slices of New York City life has become a photo series with a cult following that offers the world interesting stories from the people its creator, Brandon Stanton meets everyday. With a Facebook following of almost 12 million, Stanton’s reach is wide. Each photo he posts gets an unbelievable amount of likes, shares and comments.
In the photo above is one of Stanton’s subjects, Vidal–a Mott Hall Bridges Academy student in Brownsville, a neighborhood in Brooklyn (known as a “safe zone in a crime-plagued neighborhood.) Stanton often asks his subjects who the most influential person in their lives are and the young Black man said his principal, Ms. Lopez. The student said of Ms. Nadia Lopez, “When we get in trouble, she doesn’t suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter.”
Stanton just had to meet her. He told CNN, “When I met Ms. Lopez, I could not have been more impressed. She is a force of nature. When she let me sit in on a staff meeting, I got a front-row seat to the challenges that her school faces, and I wanted to be involved in the solution.” Ms. Lopez told Stanton about her vision to show the kids in her school that there’s more to life than their violence-ridden neighborhood. They talked about how the “Humans of New York” community could help with the vision.
Ms. Lopez calls her students “scholars” and says that “because purple is the color of royalty. I want my scholars to know that even if they live in a housing project, they are part of a royal lineage going back to great African kings and queens. They belong to a group of individuals who invented astronomy and math. And they belong to a group of individuals who have endured so much history and still overcome. When you tell people you’re from Brownsville, their face cringes up. But there are children here that need to know that they are expected to succeed.”
Since many of Ms. Lopez’s “scholars” have never left New York, so she wants them to know what it feels like to stand on the campus of one of the world’s top schools and know that they belong. She thinks the experience will broaden their horizons and expand their idea of their own potential.
Stanton launched the campaign Thursday to benefit Mott Hall Bridges Academy an help send each incoming sixth-grade class to visit Harvard University. The goal of the trip is to broaden students’ horizons and expand their idea of their potential, Stanton wrote on the campaign page.
Currently, the campaign has raised over $940,000 and counting.
Stanton offered this update:
I am happy to announce that all funds raised over $700,000 will be reserved for a final purpose. We are starting a scholarship fund available to the graduates of Mott Hall Bridges Academy. A committee of MHBA educators and administrators will choose the recipients each year. We’re going to use the money from our fundraiser to get it started, but we’re also going to lay tracks so that it can hopefully continue to assist scholars for years to come. It will be called The Vidal Scholarship Fund. And the first recipient will be Vidal.