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.


Ancestral Bridges is a 501c(3) organization founded in 2022 by Anika Bridges Lopes, a 6th generation Black and indigenous Amherst, Massachusetts resident. As such, Ancestral Bridges is singularly qualified to share the stories and represent local African-Americans and descendants of the Connecticut River Valley. We work in partnership with community members, town leaders, and descendants of colonists to respect local BIPOC history so that we may move into a more equitable and respectful future.

The Challenge:

• African Americans, Native American tribes 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 little or no generational wealth, BIPOC youth today are often disadvantaged in school, getting into college, starting businesses, and owning property.

• Local BIPOC youth and generational survivors must lead their own cultural
explorations/ amplifications and seek their own restorative efforts through partnerships they personally develop with stakeholders.

• For appropriation to truly end and for reparative action to be achieved, local families must share their own personal stories and lead race relations efforts on behalf of local generational BIPOC.

• For restorative justice to take place, organizational bridges must be created among town committees, towns, and supporting institutions.

Dr. Shirley Jackson Whitaker, Stronger Together (2014)
With permission from artist.

Our Mission:
Ancestral Bridges works to celebrate BIPOC arts and culture, enable first-time homeownership opportunities, and raise the future potential of BIPOC and disadvantaged youth.

Ancestral Bridges receives grants of money and land and leverages these to celebrate BIPOC arts and culture; enable first-time home ownership opportunities; and raise the potential of BIPOC and disadvantaged youth. This non-profit serves as the bridge between the past and the present, between elder and youth, between diverse populations in the Connecticut River Valley, connecting all who seek to learn and grow through meaningful engagements that educate, empower, and nurture long lasting growth. 

Some of the activities we support include telling the stories of local ancestors through interactive history walks, art exhibits, and music events; elevating opportunity and building a more equitable future for all area BIPOC by educating about wealth generation and developing internships, programs, and workshops for BIPOC youth and families; and enabling local BIPOC wealth generation by receiving gifts, grants, and other resources to benefit BIPOC futures.

We strive to achieve progress for BIPOC with compassion, to serve as a safe space, and to celebrate both heritage and potential.

Our Board:

Anika Lopes

Cinda Jones

Mila Sherman

William Harris

Kamal Ali

Michael Pill

Gabriel Ting

Shirley Jackson Whitaker

Talib Sadiq

Sucharitha Cintron

Stan Rosenberg – Advisor

James G. Collins – Advisor

Donald Brown – Advisor