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“The Brotherhood Crusade is not just a local entity that popped out of somebody’s dream,” said CZ Wilson, PhD, a retired UCLA vice chancellor. “Walter Bremond, who founded the organization, had a vision that our people could be self sufficient, while [institutional builder] Danny Bakewell had a whole system of socio-economic strategies that he brought to the table.”
Wilson, now 83, was a young educator with a family when he first came to Southern California in the mid-sixties, and teamed up with Bremond, and later Bakewell. He is one of many who will be videotaped giving their oral history of the organization in early June.
The Brotherhood will turn 45 next April, and was founded in the weeks between the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968 and Senator Robert Kennedy on June 5, 1968.
The Brotherhood Crusade Oral History Project is intended to capture the origins of this history-making organization for the record, and as a blueprint for future generations to follow.
Wilson, who is the author of Crossing Learning Boundaries By Choice: Black People Must Save Themselves, migrated to the north from Greenville, MS, “at 16 years old with 50 bucks in my pocket to go to University of Illinois.” Then he became a postdoctoral student at Binghamton (NY) University, and ultimately made his way to UCLA where he quickly ascended to administration, and met up with Bremond and Bakewell.
“We shared this burning desire to change inner-city America,” Wilson recalled. “And today, the Brotherhood Crusade is as close to a socioeconomic success story as you’re going to find in this country.”
If you have a memory of the Brotherhood Crusade’s early days or of South Los Angeles in the 1960s, please email a brief description of your story along with your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org