Fraternity: In 1968, a visionary priest recruited 20 black men to the College of the Holy Cross and changed their lives and the course of history.
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<b>NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
San Francisco Chronicle • The Plain Dealer
The inspiring true story of a group of young men whose lives were changed by a visionary mentor</b>
On April 4, 1968, the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., shocked the nation. Later that month, the Reverend John Brooks, a professor of theology at the College of the Holy Cross who shared Dr. King’s dream of an integrated society, drove up and down the East Coast searching for African American high school students to recruit to the school, young men he felt had the potential to succeed if given an opportunity. Among the twenty students he had a hand in recruiting that year were Clarence Thomas, the future Supreme Court justice; Edward P. Jones, who would go on to win a Pulitzer Prize for literature; and Theodore Wells, who would become one of the nation’s most successful defense attorneys. Many of the others went on to become stars in their fields as well.
In Fraternity, Diane Brady follows five of the men through their college years. Not only did the future president of Holy Cross convince the young men to attend the school, he also obtained full scholarships to support them, and then mentored, defended, coached, and befriended them through an often challenging four years of college, pushing them to reach for goals that would sustain them as adults.
Would these young men have become the leaders they are today without Father Brooks’s involvement? Fraternity is a triumphant testament to the power of education and mentorship, and a compelling argument for the difference one person can make in the lives of others.
two men decided to split up to do initial interviews. Brooks met with Gilbert Hardy, an accomplished sprinter and National Greek Scholar who was introduced to him as one of the brightest minds at St. Joseph’s. Hardy struck Brooks as personable and thoughtful, a young man who was willing to work for what he wanted. Hardy talked about school, his family, and his ambitions, which were leaning toward law; Brooks explained the kind of preparation he could expect to get at Holy Cross, as well as the
protocol was bound to raise eyebrows on campus. But if there was still opposition to admitting more black men to Holy Cross, few were vocal about it after King’s death. Brooks knew he had a rare opportunity to push through his agenda. Before he had left for Philadelphia, he had helped to organize a student and faculty drive to raise money for a new Martin Luther King, Jr., scholarship. Brooks’s personal crusade had made him a controversial figure among his fellow professors. He was hardly the
recruit top black students was building. Although Holy Cross had been the best offer on the table for many of the recruits in the spring of 1968, that was no longer the case a year later. Brooks had handed out more scholarships for the incoming recruits, but he found that the candidates for the class of 1973 had other options and it took more to persuade them to enroll. He thought about what might have happened had the school been recruiting Wells, Thomas, or any of the other men this year. Gil
President Nixon had promised to end the war in Vietnam and review the Selective Service System in the hope of moving to an all-volunteer army. In the meantime, though, Nixon had signed an amendment to have conscription determined by random selection. It was the first draft lottery since 1942. To address complaints that too many poor black men were sent to serve, there would be no college deferral. Everyone born between 1944 and 1950 would be eligible, with the date of birth used to determine the
because Art Martin had felt a need to cut back, the younger man hadn’t officially asked the men in the BSU for a bigger role. It was simply a logical transition, given Wells’s position as a deputy the year before, as well as the clear leadership he had displayed during the crisis. But the automatic rise of Wells didn’t go unnoticed by other BSU members. While nobody else had stepped forward to seek the job when the matter came up at a meeting in early 1970, many thought it felt wrong to approach