By Lushan Baker
I’ve said it before many times in my articles. You never know what’s on our campus until you dig deep enough into the soil, then you can see just how deep the roots are.
The B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S Organization
The B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S Organization was established on August 4, 1982 by founder La Russo Baker, co- founder Willie C. Doss and co-founder Kenneth D. Edison. The organization took root on the campus of Northern Illinois University.
B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S is and will always be grateful to the S.I.S.T.E.R.S Organization for initially introducing the idea. The concept of B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S was created by founder La Russo Baker after attending a Sex and You workshop sponsored by the S.I.S.T.E.R.S organization and presented by their founder Franczine Caldwell. After the workshop had concluded Baker asked Franczine Caldwell when she was going to form a B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S Organization and her immediate response was “If you want one, then form one” hence, the journey began. Baker sat down with pen and paper and began writing down things that plagued the black male on the campus and areas where he felt vast improvements were needed.
“At the top of the list was Knowledge of Self; closely followed by Love and Respect of ourselves and one another, Graduating from College, Relationships, Dissemination of Information and Building a Positive Role Model of which all males could be a part,” said Baker. “Coupled with all this, I had to determine a method to provide a service to the campus and promote a positive light of students on campus.
We needed an organization that was inclusive to all and servicing all. There were many other existing organization on campus ranging from Fraternities/Sororities, Resident Hall Association, Student Association, Black Theatre Workshop, Black Greek council, S.I.S.T.E.R.S, to athletics. None of these organizations addressed the specifics behind the disproportionate ratio of women to men graduation rate. It was out of these concerns, B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S. organization was established. B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S. is an acronym for BROTHERS REACHING TO HELP ENLIGHTEN AND REJUVENATE SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS.
The organization is inclusive and focuses on building men, developing character, providing direction and promoting positive self images. B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S. organization invites members of other male organizations to consider us for membership. We have no restrictions prohibiting membership to current members of fraternities. We also do not frown upon our members joining other organizations while active in B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S.
During my quest, I met with several members of administration; Willard Draper, Rick Hall, James Brunson and Franzcine Caldwell. As active participants in other organizations on campus and current faculty members, they were able to provide insight and direction that would prove absolutely germane to our existence. They understood the interworking of organizations already in existence at Northern Illinois University. They also understood some of the unmet needs of the average male student on campus.
I was also a member of several campus based organizations and as such, I had access to a vast array of students. I used that to my advantage. I worked as a Residence Hall Assistant in Stevenson South for 2 years on a co-ed floor. That experience proved invaluable because I was able to observe the struggles between young males and females on a consistent basis. In this capacity, I was able to study, ask questions and provide insight and resolutions. I took my findings and met with Rick Hall, Willard Draper and James Brunson and began discussions.
The afore-mentioned were also officials within the Residence Hall Association.
After months of data collection, analysis, discussions and meetings, the basis of the organization was derived. Understanding what needed to be done, I realized I would need more student help. Willie Doss and Kenneth Edison and I were already friends. Willie Doss was Vice President of the Student Association and Kenneth Edison was actively involved in Black Theatre Workshop.
I also knew they provided additional and opposite voices of reasoning I would need to successfully produce the results I desired. Willie and I began meeting and talking about the vision. He provided priceless information that enabled B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S. to become recognized as an organization on campus and obtain support and funding from the university. He and Kenny were often the voices of reasoning. They helped keep me focused on the matters before us and the overall intent of the organization.
Together the three of us formed a solid organization with unlimited resources and capabilities. We developed a model for membership and began our process of development. We had a group of 7 young men initially accepted to begin the process. The names of those young men, hereafter referred to as the founding line, were La Russo Baker, Willie C. Doss, Kenneth D. Edison, Delbert D. Denny, Darnell Frazier, Wheeler Coleman and Derrick Pettis.
The model is now referred to as a process and is completed with a Rights of Passage. We were organized on Tritons Campus around 1987-1988. Our Last graduating members from Triton were Robert Smith and Walter Moore. We are looking to reinstitute on the campus. Now we are still looking for a few good men.”
Well guess what, if it has anything to do with something positive for our students here at the college I’m interested.