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Book Review: Fraternity, Ultimately a Love Story

Posted by Larry Doyle on January 27, 2012 1:03 PM |

In the process of navigating our economic landscape, we are perpetually encountering risks. These risks not only present themselves from the standpoint of the market and the economy but also on a much larger scale from a social, political, and personal perspective as well.

How do we learn to manage risks going forward? We are compelled to study and appreciate the lessons from the past.

To do just that, I strongly encourage people to read a recently published book which takes us back to the volatile days of the late 1960s. This literary masterpiece very personally details how a group of young African American students and the Jesuit mentor who recruited them to college took very real risks. What was the result of managing these great risks?

A foundation for long term and very real rewards. This fascinating book is Fraternity by Diane Brady. 

I will admit I am slightly biased but enormously proud that Fraternity is largely set upon the campus of my Alma Mater, the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. Brady descriptively outlines how Fr. John Brooks, a Jesuit priest at Holy Cross, took very real risk in 1968 in the personal recruitment of young African American students to what was then a virtually all white campus. Recall that at this point in our nation’s history, we were experiencing significant racial turmoil culminating in the assassination of Martin Luther King.

Brooks took the not insignificant financial, administrative, and professional risks at this point in time because he knew that Holy Cross as an institution needed to embrace these young men and the African American community at large if it were to advance its mission and elevate its vision going forward.

What about the young men themselves? What possessed these men largely from the inner cities of New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Detroit to venture to a middle sized industrial city in central Massachusetts when most had opportunities to attend college elsewhere in more comfortable surroundings?

While not every African American student who ventured to Holy Cross at that point in time went on to graduate and achieve untold success, do you think it is mere coincidence that those profiled in Fraternity did accomplish remarkable achievements?

Who are these men? They include current Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, noted attorney Ted Wells, Pulitzer Prize winning author Ed Jones, legendary Wall Street financier Stan Grayson, and former NFL player and Massachusetts policy maven Eddie Jenkins. Not profiled but also worthy of mention are men of real character such as Art Martin, Gil Hardy, Walter Roy, and Joe Wilson. All of these men blazed the trail for future Crusaders such as Mark Cannon, Ron Lawson, Rod De Leaver, Torey Thomas, Daryl Brown, Obi Green, Emanuel Mendoza, Reggie Woods, Eddie Houghton, Devin Brown, Gary Acquah, and SO many more.

The more I read, the more I appreciated that Brooks and these then young men had a real sense of shared commitment. That bond did not mean that they always saw eye to eye on every issue. In fact, they tested and challenged each other repeatedly and took very real risks in the process. Why? Those challenges spurred real personal growth for the individuals and the institution.

As I read Fraternity, I also learned that whether they knew it or not at the time the shared sense of commitment held by this visionary Jesuit priest and this group of ambitious young African American students was ultimately a love affair. The power of this virtue known as love mitigated the risks these men took, but then also provided the foundation for remarkable success in their lives.

Somewhat uncannily, I am now rereading the longstanding #1 bestseller Tuesdays with Morrie with a group of young men. That book by Mitch Albom was embraced across America because it also taught us —albeit in hindsight—about the power of love.

Fraternity teaches us that in the face of very real risks, lives can be changed, dreams can be achieved, and visions can be realized when love is embraced and people give of themselves for a cause and a mission greater than personal self-interest. That love was abundant at Holy Cross in the late 1960s and still is today. As a graduate, I am most proud.

Given the challenges facing our country at this time and for the foreseeable future, I would hope that collectively we might stop, pause, and appreciate that love is the greatest risk mitigant known to mankind.

That virtue of love is the embodiment of our Sense on Cents virtues of truth, transparency, and integrity. If only those leading our political and financial institutions could appreciate and practice real love in the midst of pursuing profit or personal gain.

Love, including tough love laced with competitive spirit, is the standard and value upon which I believe any great business or practice should be built. Why? Love is the great equalizer and neutralizing force to the powers of greed and fear.

You don’t believe me? Read Fraternity by Diane Brady. The lessons and virtues highlighted within are clearly the stuff of a longstanding best seller.

I only wish I personally owned the movie rights.

Larry Doyle

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The opinions expressed are my own. I am a proponent of real transparency within our markets, our economy, and our political realm so that meaningful investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

 

  • Ben Simeone

    I can’t wait to get my hands on this one Larry,get your hands on those movie rights! Father Brooks is a brilliant man and I’d like to know what young Clarence Thomas was like.Wasn’t Eddie Jenkins on Don Shula’s undefeated Dolphins team? Thanks for the tip!

    • LD

      Ben,

      Indeed Eddie Jenkins was on that Miami Dolphin team which is still the only undefeated team in NFL history.

      Fraternity is a fascinating read.

  • John Reim

    Clarence Thomas spoke to a large group of students at Holy Cross yesterday. Our daughter Mary Clare loved his comments, and he got a standing ovation. I will tell her about this book…thank you!

  • Rod De Leaver, ’74

    First, we want to give LD a big thanks for bringing the spot light onto Fraternity. And it is true that it is the love affair with the opportunity to be a part of a positive change, even in tiny Worcester, is an intoxicating endeavor and growth stimulant.

    Thanks guys for providing a positive environment, and kudos to the Cross.

  • LD

    Interesting article in Bloomberg Businessweek referencing the men profiled in Fraternity,

    Wanted: More Black Entrepreneurs

    Job cuts in the debt-strapped public sector, where one in five black workers is employed, have had an outsize impact on the African American community. Labor Dept. data show some 280,000 public employee positions were cut last year, even as the overall economy added 1.64 million jobs. Black unemployment increased to 15.8 percent in December, more than twice the level for whites. So black business leaders are shifting focus to addressing issues in the small business sector, where most new jobs are created and African Americans haven’t fared well.

    When the U.S. Census Bureau last surveyed the landscape in 2007, African Americans owned 1.9 million businesses, about 7 percent of the total. While that was a 60 percent increase from five years earlier, the average revenue at those businesses had decreased 3 percent since 2002, to $72,000 a year, vs. an average of $490,000 at those owned by whites. And that was before the recession wreaked havoc on the black middle class. Median wealth in black households fell 53 percent between 2004 and 2009, to $5,677, according to the Pew Research Center. That’s one reason black entrepreneurs accounted for 9 percent of new ventures in 2010, according to the Kauffman Foundation, which promotes startups. Latino entrepreneurs represented 23 percent of the total. “If you don’t have the resources, it’s much tougher to make it.” says Daryl Williams, Kauffman’s director of research and policy.

    For African Americans of Wells’s generation, who came of age during the civil rights movement, the goal wasn’t so much starting companies as getting a shot at the education and jobs long reserved for whites. Consider the experiences of five black men whose lives I chronicle in my new book Fraternity. All lived together on the same residence floor at Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., and credit a priest named John E. Brooks with helping them thrive.

  • Silver

    I would not be where I am today without Fr. Brooks’ guidance, support and efforts on my behalf! The story of these five students is fascinating because of their backgrounds and their accomplishments. Fr. Brooks has mentored hundreds of young people. He is a truly great man and I am thankful for all he did for me, as well as my children.

  • Larry,

    Thank you for the mention in your write up about “Fraternity”. All of the men mentioned in the book were most definitely inspiring and helpful in my development at the ‘Cross.Even today, many are still sounding boards for me and many others attending Holy Cross. Fr. Brooks is and was a great leader for all of us at the time. His door was always open if we needed any counseling. He even made a few suggestions during my football days if you can believe it. I’m very proud of my days at the ‘Cross.

    Mark Cannon

  • Bill M.

    I enjoyed the book very much.

    It is a great story that should be a known by all Crusaders. I am very proud to be part of a community that has been led by Fr. Brooks.

    Fraternity demonstrates very clearly that he is one of a kind.

  • Dawn

    I just bought the book and am looking forward to reading it! Thanks for the review.

  • Chris

    Fraternity is a terrific book, well researched and written to provide great insights into our Alma Mater during a time of testy turmoil only four short years after I graduated in 1964….

  • Jen

    Interesting analogy — shared risk and commitment during volatile times as a true love story. Spot on, can’t wait to read!

  • Bill

    Fraternity was a very good read.

    Since I was in the same class I was interested in the view from the gentlemen involved.

    Congrats to Fr.Brooks.






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