People remember Bill Brooks from three different decades and three different aspects of his life as a change maker. Even those who are aware of all three of Bill’s talents -- (1) the Monrovia- Duarte integration leader, (2) the Duarte Rotary president who led the battle to bring women into service clubs and (3) the personnel director for the City of Hope who provided information and advice to those who fought for equity and change –- remember his outstanding ability to work with a variety of people. Willie Levi Brooks, known as Bill, was born in Alabama in 1932 - the first of six
children. After graduating from Dillard University in New Orleans, with a Bachelors Degree, he served as an Army lieutenant in the Korean War. Bill arrived in Monrovia around 1956 and while he joined the Second Baptist Church, he worked diligently within various churches. He married Lois Farrar in 1957, began a long career with City of Hope in 1961 and he and Lois became parents of Eric in 1962. As they say — the rest is history! While the first inter- racial approach to the issues of segregation and bigotry in Monrovia was the Coordinating Council’s Human Relations Committee, the larger more focused Committee was the MonroviaDuarte Human Relations Council, put together by Bill Brooks. Against a background of violent demonstrations throughout the nation, Monrovia’s Committee for the Study of Racial Imbalance opened its meetings to the public exploring views from a variety of community groups including the Monrovia-Duarte Human Relations Council. While pointing out that the State of California had directed the District to correct racial imbalance in the Monrovia schools, the Racial Imbalance Committee recommended in 1968 a two-pronged attack of compensatory education and partial integration. The School Board could not agree on even partial integration and put its weight behind a massive concentration of federal compensatory education. By the following year, and with a background of student polarization and unrest in the high school and district administrators facing legal action, a sub-committee of Bill Brook’s Human Relations Council offered a complete integration plan to the Board of Education. However, others in the Black community opposed closing the segregated Huntington School. In 1969, the Board of Education adopted a plan similar to the one proposed by Brooks’ Committee. Nine hectic months of planning and public relations were carried out by a small army of volunteers. By spring of 1970, new school attendance boundaries had been established and by September of that year, school integration came peacefully to Monrovia. But that wasn’t all that Bill Brooks did for integration in Monrovia. He was a Board Member of the Alliance for a Better Community, which succeeded in the retirement of a John Birch Society majority from the School Board. His face appears on the flier promoting Bob Bartlett’s, Pat Ostrye’s and Eric Faith’s election to the City Council. He was later a member of the Board of Directors of the Job Resources Center in Monrovia. In 1977, Bill Brooks was President of the Duarte Rotary Club during the time it admitted 3 women----against Rotary International rules. While the Club soon doubled its membership, it was expelled from Rotary International and it took years of legal battles, eventually ending up in a Supreme Court ruling in 1987 that decreed Rotary could not exclude women. The actions of Bill Brooks and the Duarte Rotary changed the practices of Rotary Clubs across the US (and in some foreign countries) requiring them to be more inclusive. Today, Bill’s and Duarte Rotary’s actions have changed all Service Clubs. By the 80s, Bill’s career at the City of Hope had placed him as head of Human Resources. He was known by the employees as capable and effective. In difficult matters, he was both a negotiator and adviser. One group that approached him to discuss problems with job descriptions and salary equity were, with his help, able to achieve significant changes. Bill Brooks was, indeed, a strong and effective change maker who used his intelligence and knowledge to affect change in a community and its schools, in the service clubs of our nation and in a major medical institution. We are fortunate that he spent much of his life serving our community.