Senator Edward W. Brooke
“Your place is anywhere you want to make it.” – Senator Edward W. Brooke, 1919-2015
Brooke Charter Schools is proud to be named after Senator Edward W. Brooke, a man of dignity, grace, and courage, who left behind a legacy of public service.
He was a war hero, earning a Bronze star for his service and leadership in Italy in World War II while serving with the segregated 366th infantry regiment. He was the first African American state Attorney General, serving the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 1963 to 1967. And, most famously, he was a two-term Senator from Massachusetts, serving from 1967 to 1979, the first popularly elected African American United States Senator in our nation’s history.
During his time in office, Senator Brooke was a bold and independent leader. He was the leading voice for affordable housing in the Senate, co-authoring the 1968 Fair Housing Act, and famously authoring the “Brooke Amendment”, which limited family public housing payments to 25% of their income. He was a leader on the Kerner Commission, appointed by President Johnson, which famously reported: “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.” One of his biggest disappointments of his career was that President Johnson never embraced the commission or its recommendations.
He was a Republican from a different era who found himself increasingly at odds with his own party. He refused to endorse Barry Goldwater in 1964. He led the charge against Richard Nixon’s Supreme Court nominations of Haynsworth and Carswell. And, he was the first Republican to publicly call for Nixon’s resignation.
Senator Brooke was not only a remarkable leader, he was a great man. To achieve the things he did, given all of the obstacles and adversity that he necessarily faced, is itself a testament to who he was. That he did so with dignity, courage, devotion to principle, steadfast respect for others of all backgrounds, and unshakable integrity, makes his accomplishment and example shine that much brighter.
Senator Brooke was an incredible supporter of Brooke Charter Schools, who was as proud to be associated with our scholars and their families as we were to be associated with him. In 2006, when Senator Brooke published his memoirs, Bridging the Divide, several 7th and 8th grade students read the book and traveled to meet the Senator at a book talk. In 2009, when President Obama bestowed the Congressional Medal of Honor on the Senator, he not only invited several of our students to attend the ceremony in Washington D.C. but met in person with them afterward.
Today, Brooke Charter Schools honors the legacy of Senator Brooke in our character education curriculum. In this video clip, one of several available from his interview with the History-Makers and available on-line, Senator Brooke explains the personal and historical context for what we believe to be his most inspiring message to our scholars, one that he has repeated often in one variation or another: “Your place is anywhere you want to make it.”
Senator Brooke will continue to be in the hearts and minds of Brooke scholars, teachers, and staff. At the 1969 Wellesley College commencement ceremony, Senator Brooke stated, “This country has profound and pressing social problems on its agenda. It needs the best energies of all its citizens, especially its gifted young people, to remedy these ills.” Senator Brooke’s belief in our country’s young people is no better represented than in Brooke scholars, their hard-work, strong character, and future aspirations.
In his own words: