Bridging the Divide: My Life

By Edward W. Brooke | Go to book overview

Introduction

As I look back over my life and political career, I am struck by a paradox: that so much has changed, and yet so little. As a young man, I grew up in a highly segregated Washington, D.C., attended segregated schools, and served in a segregated unit of the U.S. Army during World War II. It was beyond my wildest dream that I might go on to become the first African American attorney general of a state—Massachusetts—and then the first popularly elected African American U.S. senator. Yet that is what happened, and it is a dramatic reminder of how America has changed in my lifetime.

Yet in so many ways, little has changed. We have made progress on civil rights, but so much remains undone. I spent many years working for voting rights, but we still see sophisticated efforts, led by white officials, to disenfranchise black voters in local and national elections. We see unemployment rates above 25 percent for black males and more young black men in jail than in college. We see outbreaks of violence—drive-by shootings, for example—that were unknown in black communities when I was growing up. We see levels of inadequate housing and homelessness that grow worse instead of better. The rhetoric of the American dream continues to be far from its reality for millions of our citizens.

As a young man, I was proud to fight in “the good war” against Hitler, but twenty years later I opposed our dubious adventure in Vietnam, just as others and I today oppose our dubious invasion of Iraq. I see young Americans dying—my fellow African Americans disproportionately among them—for goals that are not clear and may not be attainable, and I wonder: “When will we learn?”

-1-

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Bridging the Divide: My Life
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Inside the Cocoon 4
  • 2 - Captain Carlo 20
  • 3 - Romance in Italy 32
  • 4 - Law and Politics 43
  • 5 - "Where the Huckleberries Grow" 54
  • 6 - The Boston Finance Commission 71
  • 7 - One Vote in Worcester 80
  • 8 - Attorney General 96
  • 9 - The Strange Case of the Boston Strangler 115
  • 10 - Running for the Senate 129
  • 11 - Back to Washington 145
  • 12 - Vietnam 154
  • 13 - Member of the Club 169
  • 14 - The President Nixon I Knew 187
  • 15 - "The Freest Man in the Senate" 212
  • 16 - A Private Matter 235
  • 17 - Stormy Weather 243
  • 18 - Love and Redemption 259
  • 19 - Private Citizen 274
  • 20 - Looking beyond 289
  • Index 309
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