back now at 8:37. our nation’s colleges are filled with students of every race, creed and color. in the book “fraternity” author diane brady reminds us things were different. craig melvin, good morning.
good morning to you, natalie. the book traces the story of a priest and his revolutionary recruitment of a
men to a small new england college. a group that included several attorneys, a
supreme court justice
. we sat down with father
for what turned out to be his last television interview. he died monday at the age of 88. in many ways this book turns out to be a testament to his life’s work. father
vividly remembered what many are saying about his idea to integrate the prestigious
college of the holy cross
i thought it was absolutely ridiculous at first. why are you bringing them in? they are not offering you anything. they are not going to help the school at all. they were reflective of the racial attitudes that were fairly consistent in the
that we as a people will get to the promise land.
, just months after dr.
martin luther king
, jr., was killed and riots erupted around the country, the 44-year-old dean of students hopped in his white
and headed to
‘s inner cities with full scholarships in hand. he was intent on fulfilling his mission at the nearly all white
in wooster, massachusetts.
it was a
. a needy saw for african-american students who if they didn’t get this opportunity could be badly deprived.
in detroit he found a star basketball player. in washington, d.c., a self-described studious mama’s boy named
. in new
eddie jenkins, football standout who saw the cross as an opportunity and obligation.
there was a war going on and there was a war in the streets. we felt that it was time for us to stake our claim. we didn’t just want to come in and get a degree and join
, we wanted to basically build a new nation.
at first some of the young men were skeptical about
historically black colleges
gave great education to our
. great schools to go to. you don’t have to go to this
white school in boston.
they knew full well what was ahead of them.
there were a number that had no interest in getting to know us.
nonetheless they accepted scholarships and started working on gaining acceptance.
we did not want to be treated like minorities. we wanted to have an equal presence, a presence where we did not have to give up our identity.
they started by forming one of the country’s first
a group of brothers who wanted to be with each other, come together with a strategy of the bible.
they lobbied for more
students and professors with diverse curriculum and for solidarity’s sake.
and myself, we were a few rooms past the bathroom.
they pushed for all
hall in the white dorms. many saw it as self-segregation. it also surprised father
i thought it was a stupid idea. the more i listened, it became clearer and clearer to me, they simply needed this kind of time together.
the men would get together weekly at
has been good to me and for me.
supreme court justice
during that time.
it is i who owe the debt of eternal gratitude.
during bse, they would argue passionately about everything from race to history’s most brilliant
intellectuals, philosophical differences that exist today.
the arguments we had at 18, we continue to have at 60. i
see the world
very differently than he sees the world. with that said, there’s a bond between everybody who went to
during that period and father
is a big part of that.
for many of the 20 men he recruited and the greater
, who was there for life’s marquis moments, the vatican trained priest served as president emeritus where women are 53% of the former all male
and minority students are a quarter of the freshman class. father
continued to push for change into his 80s.
we should continually be searching for academically strong
students to come here and to engage in a strong curricul curriculum.
like that trailblazing class of
. eddie jenkins went on to play for the undefeated
. stan grayson became a
executive, former deputy mayor of new
is one of
‘s most prominent trial lawyers.
we developed our sense of confidence and our sense of leadership. and the things we learned at
really resulted in our being successful.
was teaching a seminar at
as recently as this past school year. he will be buried next monday, of course, on the campus of
where he spent so many decades working on behalf of the students. the men he recruited said they were sattened by his death but grateful for the impact he had and in their lives. natalie.
what a great honor for you to have the opportunity to probably get one of his last interviews.
such a remarkable man. what’s just as remarkable is the strength of the bond that he managed to maintain with all those students for all these years.
such an impact on them. craig melvin, great story. thank