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Book Review of Fraternity

January 11th, 2013 No comments

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For those of us who came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, it was a decade that marked the beginning of epic shifts that would change our personal lives, our nation and the world. It was a time marked by social change and war that few understood. The counter culture and social revolution gave rise to protest, both violent and peaceful. We marched for racial and social justice. We cried for Bobby, Martin and John. We watched in horror as college students, much like us, were shot down at Kent State. We ended each night in rage over the gruesome images from Vietnam on the 11 o’clock news. As a suburban teenager growing up in a working class neighborhood on Long Island, I sang along to Janis Ian’s Society’s Child with all the heartfelt emotion of my teenage angst and parental defiance.

It’s through the lens of 60’S and 70’S defiance and my past that I read Fraternity. Brady’s crisp, journalistic writing style beautifully tells the story of 5 of the 20 African American men Fr. John Brooks recruited to the College of Holy Cross in the late 1960’s. He believed these young African American men had the potential to succeed if given the opportunity. Fr. Brooks took a personal interest in not only their education, but their personal lives. He “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”. Fr. Brooks, who eventually would become a beloved president of the college, was often challenged by his peers, alumni and the community for taking on such a “risk”. The financial risk alone was staggering – as these new recruits were offered full scholarships. It was a pivotal time for the college and things did not always go smoothly. But Fr. Brooks held fast to his ideals and never wavered in his support of these young men.

But what really drew me into this book was the story about the men themselves. Do you remember your first day of college? Scary, right? The first in their families to attend college, these men had the courage to enter a world very different from their own. The College of Holy Cross was, “white, [JESUIT] and all male,” with high academic standards and high expectations. Far from home, out of their own comfort zones, they entered a world that was hardly putting out the welcome mat. They were challenged but not deterred. They formed their bonds, worked hard, and persevered. They blazed a trail that others would follow. And each followed a passion that lead them to make a difference; a difference that continues to this day.

Did they know that their pursuit of a good education and a better life for their families would in effect play a role in changing society? Their time at CHC put them in the spotlight; they were challenged to reach their potential and make a difference. They continue to follow a path that brings light to MLK’s dream that men be judged by their character and not the color of their skin.

Now 40 years later, I am inspired by these brave men. I am awed by their courage and steadfastness. Read the book. It’s not too late to be inspired to make a difference. We still have a lot of work to do.

Tickets are still available for the 15th Annual African American Literary Celebration on Friday, January 18th featuring Fraternity author, Diane Brady and Holy Cross alumni Eddie Jenkins. Purchase your tickets here!

15th Annual African American Literary Celebration

December 12th, 2012 No comments

Sponsorship opportunities and tickets are still available for our upcoming 15th Annual African American Literary Celebration, which will take place on Friday, January 18, 2013 from 8:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. The event, which will be held at Tappan Hill Mansion, includes featured speaker Diane Brady, author of Fraternity and Senior Editor with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and Honoree Dr. Bettye Perkins, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Today’s Students Tomorrow’s Teachers (TSTT).  Kevin Plunkett, Westchester Deputy County Executive, College of Holy Cross alum, is also the Honorary Chair of the event.

 

For 15 years, WLS has presented this event featuring writers and individuals who have been inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and celebrates his legacy. Diane Brady, author and senior editor of Bloomberg BusinessWeek will speak about her book “Fraternity” the story of five young African American men recruited by a visionary mentor at the College of Holy Cross in 1968.   Dr. Bettye Perkins, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Today’s Students, Tomorrow’s Teachers will be honored of her extraordinary innovative mentoring program that recruits and trains culturally diverse and economically challenged high school students for a careers in education.

“The story of “Fraternity” and the work of our honoree, Dr. Perkins, echoes a core value of WLS to open doors of opportunity through access to information resources and technology,” says Terry L. Kirchner, executive director.  “The resources throughout our library system serve to support all those seeking knowledge and inspiration, regardless of cultural or economic background.”

The Literary Breakfast’s theme focuses on access to education, social justice and mentoring. Brady’s book “Fraternity” is an inspiring true story of a group of young men whose lives were changed by a visionary mentor – Fr. Brooks of the College of Holy Cross. Fr. Brooks, who shared Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of an integrated society, recruited, mentored and supported twenty African-American young men during the transformative time in our country and at College of Holy Cross in the 1960’s. Among the twenty students recruited 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.   “Fraternity” is testament to the power of education and mentorship, and a compelling argument for the difference one person can make in the lives of others.

The Literary Breakfast is sponsored by Entergy, TD Bank and SirsiDynix and proceeds from this event will help support WLS’s Learning Ambassadors, a system-wide, summer training and employment program for teens that includes early career and college exploration, volunteer community service opportunities and the development of marketable job skills.

Tickets for the 2013 Literary Tea are $95 and include a networking breakfast and presentation. For more information or to purchase tickets, please call (914) 231-3241 or visit www.westchesterlibraries.org.

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, spend your morning being inspired, help support our Learning Ambassador programs, and purchase your tickets today!