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INGLEWOOD, Calif. – George Weaver got to witness the importance of social justice and racial equity at an early age.

"Shortly after my birth, I was recognized in the publication Who's Who in America in association with the civil rights movement," Weaver said. "Truth is, my mother worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Andrew Young and the Southern California Leadership Conference (SCLC)."

As he grew older and more capable of understanding of the significance of his mother's commitment to social justice and racial equity, he later had the "incredible" opportunity to spend a couple hours with Young, who stressed the responsibility he had to carry it on.

"Mr. Young quickly snapped me out of my 'fan boy' disposition and caused me to realize my responsibility with respect to honoring my mother's efforts," Weaver said. "Consequently, I made a promise to myself that I would not merely walk through the door that she and her colleagues fought so hard to open and enjoy the treasures awaiting me on the other side. To the contrary, I aimed to assume the responsibility of running through the door, racing to the next door, and opening it for those who were following me.

Weaver said he owes a debt of gratitude to his mother and her colleagues. It's what inspired him to become a "quasi-purveyor of the history of social justice and racial equity," and later attend UCLA, an "institution with a long and checkered social justice and racial equity past." Weaver said that while structural and institutional racism and incidence of slavery remained prevalent at the school, so too did the history and pioneering efforts of Kenny Washington and Jackie Robinson, two men who he "long admired, appreciated and aspired to immolate."

Today, Weaver is honoring that commitment through his work as Trauma-Informed Youth Development Readiness Instructor for Brotherhood Crusade, a grassroots organization headquartered in South Los Angeles with more than five decades of service whose mission is to improve the quality of life of low-income, underserved, under-represented and disenfranchised individuals. Accordingly, that work is also why he was recently recognized as the Rams' first "pLAymaker" honoree of 2024.

Noting the power of professional sports' public platform to effectuate change and the Rams' legacy as pioneers within that, the recognition means a great deal to Weaver.

"This recognition means more to me than anyone will ever know because it ties me to a legacy that infects every inch of my body and drives me to be a better version of myself every day so that I can make a meaningfully significant difference in the lives of the young people with whom I am honored to work," Weaver said. "In short, this recognition affirms our effort to open the next door and pass the baton, while, more importantly validating the worthiness of our cause. For this, I am eternally grateful."

According to Weaver, Brother Crusade has served Los Angeles County for 55 years, and helped low-income South Los Angeles County and surrounding community youth and families overcome barriers to a better quality of life by effectuating improved health and wellness; facilitating academic success; promoting personal, social and economic growth; providing access to artistic excellence and cultural awareness; increasing financial literacy, and building the community agencies and institutions that serve its priority population.

"Notably, Brotherhood Crusade serves as a voice of advocacy and source of Whole-Person Care, human-centered support for the more than 3,000 10-29 year old young people we serve annually, their families and the communities in which they live," Weaver said.

Within that is the organization's Youth Development Program, which facilitates community and economic development strategy through areas such as mentorship, remedial education programs, junior executive leadership, character development through sports and more. The full extent of that programming can be found on their website here.

Weaver facilitates and leads a lot of Brotherhood Crusade's programming done in schools and the community.

When thinking about what inspire change means to him, Weaver began by explaining his title and how change is effected.

He said his title "indicates that I am a person who helps the young people I am honored to serve:

  • Realize that the treasure they seek lies in the cave in which they are most afraid to enter
  • Understand that the only person they have to be better than is the person they were yesterday
  • Eschew what others think and aspire to their own greatness
  • Pursue being a better version of themselves every day
  • Empower their authentic self
  • Be autodidactic (always learning)
  • Help others discover and empower their authentic selves."

Weaver explained that accomplishing this means an individual must understand the change process. He said according to Lewin, that involves changing their thinking in order to change their attitude; changing their attitude to change their beliefs, changing their beliefs to change their actions; changing their actions to change their behaviors; changing their behaviors to change their habits; and changing their habits to change their results.

In essence, people change not because they are told to, but because they elect to.

"Accordingly, effective practitioners don't tell their priority population what to do," Weaver said. "Instead, they help the individuals with who they work understand who they are, from whence they came, the power that they possess, the sacrifices that have been made for them, the shoulders upon which they stand and their roles and responsibilities in life as a result. This, in turn, allows the individuals to begin to self-actualize and aspire to their own success.

"Taken together, change is not a function of demand. It is instead a function of one's desire to aspire to their own success. Therefore, effective practitioners don't demand and discipline. To the contrary, they inspire and motivate. Hence, the appropriateness of 'Inspire Change.'"

Inspiring change in one's own community, according to Weaver, is done by asking: How does one bring about change effectively?

As an example, Weaver recalled a conversation he had with the public health director about a partnership proposal.

The public health director said that while the organization's results were what they were looking for, they had to decline the proposal because they are charged to achieve community-wide impact and, as such, their policy only allows them to invest in opportunities that serve more than 1,000 people. Yet, despite funding more than 200 initiatives, not one had been successful in achieving their desired results.

Weaver asked the public health director if she had ever considered that those goals and policies in place don't align, and cannot co-exist if successful outcomes are to be achieved. When she asked him to explain further, he spoke about partnerships Brotherhood Crusade formed with NBA stars Paul George and Chris Paul and how they continually support a small number of people in a deep, meaningful way.

For the last two years, Brotherhood Crusade has partnered with George to send high school-age youth from Brotherhood Crusade to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. They have also partnered with Paul and his family foundation to send Brotherhood Crusade high-school-age youth to the Club 61 Leadership Summit.

Space Camp is the most developmentally beneficial vocational preparation summer camps for individuals interested in aerospace, defense, energy, education, biotech, technology, astrology, engineering, aeronautical careers, medicine and similar STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers; connections made there often set up networking and mentorship opportunities. Club 61 is a leadership alliance whose mission is to enhance and support the growth and development of future leaders.

Each experience has life-changing benefits for participants, but is also cost-prohibitive for many participants. George and Paul understood that substantial, sustainable change is a product of three factors, none one of which involves starting with a multitude of individuals or an exorbitant amount of money:

  1. Mindset (attitudes, behaviors and beliefs) change
  2. Access and opportunity
  3. Multiplicative influence

The first was reinforced by feedback from every Paul George Space Camp scholar and Club 61 leaders, the second was access to state of the art (Space Camp) and immersive (Club 61) experiences, the third by weekly messages received from family members or friends of each program's alumni how the change in their scholar has inspired them to be better versions of themselves.

"To this end," Weaver said, "we can inspire change in our community by making a deep and meaningful investment (not necessarily monetary) in a few individuals, facilitating their significant change, and then causing them to infect and influence those in their circle of influence."

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