The last time us band of brothers were all together was on the Howard campus just under a decade before.
I remember Doug being most hard on me. I think he had clear foresight into what I was asking both from the school and out of the club. It would be hard to lead from the helm. He knew that firsthand.
We were after all in a fishbowl. And many in the environment questioned how we got there and expected us to fail. So even before I set foot on that campus they pledged me. They got inside my head and made me declare what I wanted and precisely how I planned to achieve it. Lewis was the most balanced of the bunch, always descriptive and professorial in tone. While Doug was busy conducting a Kamala Harris like deposition on me, often by phone. It was Lewis or Bill who would put me back together after those calls.
Then on one pre-winter day, I was invited for a personal interview with Admissions, the last step in acceptance. The first thing Mr. Selby said upon seeing me is "Where is your makeup? You are only interviewing with the highest selling Mary Kay agent in the history of the company, Gloria Mayfield Banks." Now minutes before my interview, we scrounge around his network putting our hands into bookbags and purses looking for some semblance of makeup we can apply to a face who had never worn any. I can still hear Douglas saying, "I think you need more stuff on your cheeks and more lipstick."
These three guys taught me getting into Harvard was not the hardest part, believing you belonged there was the hardest. They were counting on me not only to get that but be able to convince others of the same should I become president of the AASU. My job was to get all of us out of there. No man left behind. I only had one casualty in my club and I was almost the second.
As president of the AASU, one of the biggest issues I faced was the professors mixing up our names. Calling black people by the same names haphazardly. This may not seem like a big deal to many reading this, but when your grade is dependent on your oral partcipation and your identity is already being called into question among your fellow students, it becomes a very big deal.
At the helm and with my brothers having since graduated, I had to take on this quibble and I did. Head on and with each of these brothers in my head. "Don't back down. Remember why you are here. And most of all, remember what Howard taught us."
Bill was the peacemaker. He was the one I could call day or night and get the truth and the medicine to fight another day.
Lewis went on to do a lot. Well let's just say anything he ever set his mind to. Now he owns a successful art gallery in Harlem. Douglas became that lawyer and is a partner in a prestigious Atlanta law firm. Bill too, took on the world and won. He last held a position as interim President of Morehouse College. And myself? I am a work in progress. Still calling on this band of brothers to check my thoughts and occasionally the application of my makeup.
We will come together again on 6/16/17 to say a final goodbye to the nicest among us, "Dollar Bill". We will miss every inch of his moral fabric. He taught us well.