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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. Hardcover – January 3, 2012
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“Holy Cross, Black Power, and the Sixties could have been an unholy mix. A bold Jesuit priest made it a holy one. The story of Father John Brooks, Clarence Thomas, Ted Wells, and the others rings with power, pride, and human feeling. Fraternity and the saga it retells adds honor to my college.”—Chris Matthews, anchor, MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews
“Diane Brady’s book brilliantly shows how the attention and concern of one man changed not only the course of these individual lives but the course of history. This book is a template of how we should all think about both our societal responsibility and the gift of mentorship.”—Wes Moore, author of The Other Wes Moore
“An incredibly inspiring book . . . Diane Brady has captured the story not just of a group of amazing black men and their mentor but of an era. But most of all, Fraternity is about the power of hope, the power of presence in the lives of others, the power of mentorship, role modeling, and actionable belief. And this is why I see this book as the best modern-day example of the continued power of Dr. King’s Dream.”—John Hope Bryant, founder and CEO of Operation HOPE and author of Love Leadership: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World
“Rife with questions about education that are as vital today as they were in the sixties, Fraternity is a reminder that success in life is often about being given the chance to succeed, and that great educators have the power to shape the course of history. This is an important story that will bring endless inspiration.”—Sampson Davis, author of The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream
Top Customer Reviews
Things had to change. But how, and at what cost?
It was just at this moment of crisis that Father Brooks, a Jesuit from Holy Cross, decided to recruit a handful of black students for the university.
He found eight extraordinary young men. One of them was Clarance Thomas, who is now among the most influential members of the Supreme Court (and by the way, a picture of the now conservative Thomas in a black beret protesting the Vietnam War is worth the price of the book alone).
Another one of the eight men would later win a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Critics Award. One become a nationally famous lawyer.
Yet, at first, some hardly seemed college material. One had a mother who was illiterate. One was storming out of a seminary, not to mention the Catholic church. Yet they would be plunged into a world that was "white, Catholic, and all male" (p 67), not to mention a fiercely competitive academic environment.
Within the next few years they would all stand together and threaten to leave Holy Cross forever.
It's a dramatic story, but I don't want to spoil the suspense by explaining further. In the end, Holy Cross and Father Brooks changed the trajectory of their lives as much as they seem to have altered Holy Cross.
One thing that was especially striking was how suddenly, and how utterly, the cultural milieu can change. One year Father Brooks was trying to talk the alumni into supporting scholarships for eight black students. Barely a year later there is a black corridor devoted only to black students.
This is a small book, and the prose is elegant and spare, heightening the drama.
This would make a magnificent movie.
Brady's work captures Holy Cross as a microcosm of the social events unfolding throughout the country during a period when ripples of the cultural implications of the civil rights movement widened out into the corridors of college halls. Well-intentioned college administrators such as Rev. Brooks were seeking to contribute to the social uplift of impoverished groups. In doing so they struggled with establishing an unprecedented balance between providing support and accommodation to a critical mass of black students, while also ensuring fairness and equity to all students. For example they dealt with questions about developing black housing, creating black studies programs, altering the liberal arts core and hiring black faculty.
Because this a multi-biography, this is an exploration into the lives of ordinary individuals striving for personal achievement while also making sense of their obligations to their families and communities during times of tremendous turbulence. It is a close look into Catholic education and its historical role in providing social uplift to under-privileged peoples. Most of Rev.Read more ›
Reading about his college history in "Fraternity" gave a much broader context to that brief presentation. Given his own youth and struggles, and the situation he and his classmates found themselves in during 1968-72, I can appreciate how little patience he probably has with college students of this era.
"Fraternity" is a valuable historical lesson and a reminder of things we now take for granted. The book's events take place in the wake of the death of Martin Luther King, and in 2011, it's easy to forget that King was not the revered figure he is now, with many whites - including a would-be priest at Clarence Thomas' seminary - openly happy that he had been killed.
The success of the five men examined in "Fraternity" was no guarantee, with a variety of obstacles placed against them. "Fraternity" does an excellent job at showing the human struggle these men dealt with at an unfamiliar but ultimately welcoming enviornment.
The book is not a recreation of scenes. There is very little dialogue, or 'action.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This gives an excellent view of the turmoil of the late 60's with the unique perspective of men that became very accomplished later in life.Published 5 months ago by john g.
This book is a good resource for learing about the early years in the life of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a man for whom I have great admiration. Read morePublished 5 months ago by RF2ner
A very different look at the influence of a "band of brothers" on each other -- and eventually on American culture and history. Easy to read. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Sparky
Brady has done us all a favor in writing this book. It is a great story that has important implications today on how progress is made and the risks that must be taken to achieve... Read morePublished 17 months ago by E. Chatman
I read this book because my son just started his freshman year at HC and I wanted to get a feel for the legacy as far as African American young people. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Debra A. Colquitt
It is an interesting tale of 5 young men who arrive at a white, middle class, Catholic university in the turbulent sixties. Read more