Ancestral Bridges supports and builds programs that celebrate BIPOC arts, history, and culture in western Massachusetts. We also partner with local communities to create educational and economic opportunities so that BIPOC and disadvantaged youth can thrive.



For Immediate Release

June 13, 2022

On the eve of Juneteenth, 2022, internationally -renowned milliner Anika Lopes (rhymes with Hopes) of Amherst, MA and Brooklyn, NY announces she is Founder and President of Ancestral Bridges, a 501c3 Foundation that collaboratively brings together stakeholders in order to elevate economic and cultural opportunities and build a more equitable future for regional Black/Indigenous/People of Color (BIPOC).

Founding Collaborator and Foundation Vice President Cinda Jones’ ancestors were colonial settlers of Hatfield and then Amherst, MA. “We can’t change history, but we can impact the future. We’re working together to assure that indigenous culture is reclaimed; family stories are told; and economic and home ownership opportunities are created for area BIPOC. I’m proud to be endeavoring this with Anika Lopes,” Jones said.

Named for Anika Lopes’ maternal ancestors and grandfather Dudley Bridges, Ancestral Bridges represents and celebrates the stores of the area’s first black and Afro- indigenous families through interpretive walks and historic markers, cultural events and exhibits, internship opportunities, wealth
generation education, and first-time home ownership initiatives.
Ancestral Bridges’ first endeavor is launching on Juneteenth 2022 an interactive black history walk of here-to-fore unremarked historic sites of Amherst’s first black and indigenous families. Some of the Bridges family’s rare collection of photographs will be shared for the first time. Ancestral Bridges Foundation’s collection of indigenous tools and arrowheads will be on display at the Amherst History Museum. The Saturday, June 18th program will begin at 11:00am at Amherst’s West Cemetery where the
Ancestral Bridges Foundation’s creation will be announced. The program moves on to the Emily Dickinson Homestead at noon; The Amherst History Museum at 1:00pm; with tours of black neighborhood landmarks to follow. A 5pm concert at the Drake closes the program.

“African Americans, Indigenous people, and other BIPOC community members have been systemically denied wealth generation opportunities such as home and land ownership, college scholarships, and financial investments. As a direct result of lacking generational wealth, BIPOC youth today are often disadvantaged in school, getting into college, starting businesses, and owning property. We’re going to evolve the future potential of BIPOC in the Amherst area,” says Lopes, a sixth generation resident of
what’s now called Amherst, MA.

Joining Lopes and Jones on the Ancestral Bridges Foundation Board include; Willian Harris of Space Center Houston; Dr. Kamal Ali, Professor; Attorney Michael Pill; Deputy Police Chief Gabriel Ting; Dr. Shirley Jackson Whitaker; Amherst High School Principal Talib Sadiq; and Education Reformer Sucharitha Cintron. Former Senator Stan Rosenberg and Dr. Donald Brown will join in an advisory capacity.