Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Fraternity

How a scholarship program brought color to Holy Cross

By / January 17, 2012

Fraternity By Diane Brady Random House Publishing Group 256 pp

Enlarge

April 4, 1968: the day that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. It was a time of sorrow and shame for many Americans, black and white. But for one idealistic Roman Catholic priest – shocked and grieved though he was – it become a moment of opportunity.

Skip to next paragraph

For months the Rev. John E. Brooks, dean of students at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., had been lobbying his superiors at the Catholic men’s college to bring in more students of color. The one or two black students the school typically accepted each year were not enough, he said.

Administrators at Holy Cross didn’t necessarily disagree with Brooks. But at the time the school’s finances were weak and all were adamant that there was no money for minority scholarships – until the day of King’s assassination.

As the nation reeled and rioters looted, Brooks’s case instantly became more compelling. He was suddenly granted the right to recruit young black students and to offer them – on the spot, if he liked them enough – scholarships to attend Holy Cross.

Days later, Brooks was on the road, and he found 20 promising candidates, all of whom he managed to bring to Holy Cross to start school that fall. Among those men: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Edward P. Jones; NFL running back and politically active lawyer Eddie Jenkins; eminent Washington, D.C., trial lawyer Theodore Wells; and former deputy mayor of New York and investment banking executive Stanley Grayson.

“Was there something in the water?” journalist Diane Brady says she joked when someone introduced her to Grayson and he first told her about the remarkable men with whom he had enrolled at Holy Cross in the fall of 1968.

“It was Father Brooks,” Grayson told her.

And so Brady began following the story that she tells – with the cooperation of Thomas, Jones, Jenkins, Grayson, Wells, and others – in her book Fraternity.

Permissions

Read Comments

View reader comments | Comment on this story

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer

 

What are you reading?

Let me know about a good book you've read recently, or about the book that's currently on your bedside table. Why did you pick it up? Are you enjoying it?

Doing Good

 

What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

 
 
Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!