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Gen. Harry Brooks, Jr.

Retired Major General Harry W. Brooks, Jr. was born May 17, 1928, in segregated Indianapolis, Indiana. A good student, he attended P.S. 42, P.S. 87 and Crispus Attucks High School, graduating in 1947 as an officer in the ROTC. Joining the United States Army as a private, Brooks soon rose to sergeant and used the provisions of the G.I. Bill to attend college. Noticed because of his baseball prowess, he was invited to Officer Candidates School (OCS) and received his commission as a second lieutenant in 1949. Brooks went on to obtain his B.A. degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1962 and an M.A. degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1973. He also completed the Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Program.

Becoming an officer during the U.S. Army’s desegregation efforts, Brooks served in Japan with a logistics command in support of Korea. Serving in Germany as an artillery officer, Brooks also served a tour in Vietnam. His subordinate officers included Colin Powell. While attending the United States War College from 1969 to 1970, he coauthored The Gathering Storm: An Analysis of Racial Instability Within the Army. Appointed Army Director of Equal Opportunity Programs at the Pentagon in 1972, Brooks was promoted to major general in 1974, as the 6th African American general in United States history. As the commanding general of the famed 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii, Brooks was responsible for 16,000 men and for ordering 10,000 of them to return to school for high school and associate degrees.

His decorations included: the Distinguished Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, two Legion of Merit Medals, two Bronze Star Medals, and seven Air Medals. Awards from NAACP and Kiwanis recognized Brooks volunteer activities. After retirement in 1976, Brooks became executive vice president of Amfac, Inc. He then founded, with some of his friends, Advanced Consumer Marketing Corporation, which was heralded as the Department of Commerce Minority Business Enterprise of the Year in 1989 and the Black Enterprise Company of the Year in 1990. Married with four adult sons, Brooks was chairman of Brooks International and lived in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Brooks passed away on August 28, 2017 at age 89.

Accession Number

A2004.186

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

9/29/2004

Last Name

Brooks

Maker Category
Marital Status

Separated

Schools

Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School

George Washington Carver School 87

University of Nebraska-Omaha

University of Oklahoma

U.S. Army War College

Stanford University

Elder W. Diggs School 42

Search Occupation Category
Archival Photo 2
First Name

Harry

Birth City, State, Country

Indianapolis

HM ID

BRO25

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Carol H. Williams Advertising

State

Indiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

I give a damn.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Nevada

Interview Description
Birth Date

5/17/1928

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Las Vegas

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Steak (T-Bone)

Death Date

8/28/2017

Short Description

Major general (retired) Gen. Harry Brooks, Jr. (1928 - 2017 ) was Commanding General of 25th Infantry Division and worked to promote improved education in the military. After retiring from the military, Brooks founded the Advanced Consumer Marketing Corporation, which was heralded as the Department of Commerce Minority Business Enterprise of the Year in 1989, and the Black Enterprise Company of the Year in 1990.

Employment

United States Army

AmFac, Inc.

Advance Consumer Marketing

Brooks International

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3967">Tape: 1 Slating of Harry Brooks interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3968">Tape: 1 Harry Brooks states his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3969">Tape: 1 Harry Brooks talks about his mother and her Cherokee grandmother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3970">Tape: 1 Harry Brooks talks about his mother's life and jobs</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3971">Tape: 1 Harry Brooks recalls his father's origins and strict upbringing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3972">Tape: 1 Harry Brooks talks about his siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3973">Tape: 1 Harry Brooks recalls his earliest memories growing up in Indianapolis</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3974">Tape: 1 Harry Brooks details his activities as a boy and his relationship with his father</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3975">Tape: 1 Harry Brooks remembers his elementary school and returning to visit as an adult</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3976">Tape: 1 Harry Brooks talks about his high school years</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3977">Tape: 1 Harry Brooks talks about his role models growing up</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3978">Tape: 1 Harry Brooks talks about briefly dropping out of high school to marry but being prevented by his girlfriend's mother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3979">Tape: 1 Harry Brooks discusses his decision in high school to go into the military</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3980">Tape: 2 Harry Brooks talks about enlisting in the Army</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3981">Tape: 2 Harry Brooks describes his experiences in the Army at Fort Dix, New Jersey</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3982">Tape: 2 Harry Brooks talks about his first wife</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3983">Tape: 2 Harry Brooks recalls his experiences in Officer Candidates School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3984">Tape: 2 Harry Brooks describes his military experiences after being transfered to Japan</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3985">Tape: 2 Harry Brooks details his military duties after returning from Japan</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3986">Tape: 2 Harry Brooks recalls his command success as a colonel and advising Colin Powell</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3987">Tape: 2 Harry Brooks talks about his military duties in the late 1960s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3988">Tape: 3 Harry Brooks talks about the scarcity of black generals in the Army</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3989">Tape: 3 Harry Brooks talks about racial tensions in the military in the early 1970s and his visit to diffuse a crisis at West Point</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3990">Tape: 3 Harry Brooks discusses Equal Employment policy changes in the Army, 1970s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3991">Tape: 3 Harry Brooks discusses his dissertation on military race relations and strategies for dealing with racial tensions in the Army</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3992">Tape: 3 Harry Brooks talks about the black military officers under his command</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3993">Tape: 3 Harry Brooks discusses the Army process for selection of general officers and his own promotion to Brigadier General</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3994">Tape: 3 Harry Brooks talks about his emphasis on soldiers' education and being a role model to the black troops he commanded</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3995">Tape: 4 Harry Brooks reflects on his tenure as commander of the 25th Infantry Division</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3996">Tape: 4 Harry Brooks details changes in his career after retiring from the Army</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3997">Tape: 4 Harry Brooks details his activities with the Freedom Forum</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3998">Tape: 4 Harry Brooks reflects on his concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/3999">Tape: 4 Harry Brooks ponders his legacy and the sacrifices his family's made for his personal success</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4000">Tape: 4 Harry Brooks talks briefly about his religious beliefs</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4001">Tape: 4 Harry Brooks talks about his friendships and how he wishes to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4002">Tape: 4 Harry Brooks lists the black officers under his command who reached Lt. General or higher in the U.S. Army</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4003">Tape: 4 Photo - Portrait of U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell in his U.S. Army uniform, ca. 1990s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4004">Tape: 4 Photo - Mr. Greene, father of Harry Brooks, Jr.'s first wife, Doris Elizabeth Greene-Brooks</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4005">Tape: 4 Photo - Harry Brooks, Jr. and an unidentified man at the unveiling of his portrait bust at the Indiana War Memorial, Indianapolis, Indiana, February, 2001</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4006">Tape: 4 Photo - Harry Brooks, Jr. and his son standing in front of the street sign that bears his name, ca. 2000s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4007">Tape: 4 Photo - Harry Brooks, Jr. with his wife and son at the unveiling ceremony at the Indiana War Memorial, Indianapolis, Indiana, February, 2001</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4008">Tape: 4 Photo - Harry Brooks, Jr. posing with his portrait bust at the Indiana War Memorial, Indianapolis, Indiana, February, 2001</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4009">Tape: 4 Photo - Harry Brooks with his three sons at his son Harry's wedding, 1988</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4010">Tape: 4 Photo - Harry Brooks, Jr. as a U.S. Army corporal, 1948</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4011">Tape: 4 Photo - Portrait of Harry Brooks Jr.'s first wife, Doris Elizabeth Greene-Brooks, ca. 1948</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4012">Tape: 4 Photo - Harry Brooks, Jr. receiving the Distinguished Service Medal upon his retirement from the U.S. Army, 1976</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4013">Tape: 4 Photo - Portrait of Harry Brooks, Jr.'s son, Harry W. Brooks, III, in his U.S. Army uniform, ca. 1990s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4014">Tape: 4 Photo - Harry Brooks, Jr. with his first wife and General Bruce Palmer, Jr. at his promotion to brigadier general, ca. 1974</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4015">Tape: 4 Photo - Harry Brooks, Jr.'s father, Harry Brooks, Sr. and unidentified men at his retirement from his position at the post office, Indianapolis, Indiana</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4016">Tape: 4 Photo - Portrait of Harry W. Brooks, Jr., ca. early 1990s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4017">Tape: 4 Photo - Harry Brooks, Jr. awarded a trophy upon being inducted into the Fort Dix Sports Hall of Fame, Fort Dix, New Jersey, ca. 1950s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4018">Tape: 4 Photo - Portrait of General Harry W. Brooks, Jr., commander of the 25th Infantry Division, Fort Shafter, Hawaii, 1976</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4019">Tape: 4 Photo - Portrait of Harry Brooks, Jr.'s mother, Nora Elaine Bailey-Brooks</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4020">Tape: 4 Photo - Major General Harry W. Brooks, Jr., commander of the 25th Infantry Division, Fort Shafter, Hawaii, ca. 1974-1976</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4021">Tape: 4 Photo - Harry Brooks, Jr. with his three sons on a visit to Hawaii, ca. 1989</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4022">Tape: 4 Photo - Harry Brooks, Jr. as an infant, Indianapolis, Indiana, ca. 1930</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/4023">Tape: 4 Photo - Harry Brooks Jr. with his first wife and sons Wayne and Harry Brooks, III, ca. late 1950s</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

7$3

DATitle
Harry Brooks recalls his command success as a colonel and advising Colin Powell
Harry Brooks discusses Equal Employment policy changes in the Army, 1970s
Transcript
When I was a colonel, we had--I had five units, five battalions, six hundred men each [in 72nd Field Artillery Group] and there was another group that had five battalions, six hundred men each, and this was all large artillery, sergeants, Honest John [artillery rocket capable of delivering a nuclear warhead], eighty inches and so forth. A very complex formula about grading the effectiveness in the unit, annual general inspection, technical inspections, Army tests, dah, dah, dah dah. My units came out, one, two, three, four, five--no, one, two, three, four and six. And I wasn't happy about that, 'cause I wanted it one, two, three, four and five, but imagine how this guy [the other group commander] felt when all my units were coming up high because I was able to take those young lieutenant colonels that were commanding those units and teach them the lessons. I remember I went down to Colin Powell's unit when he was working for me [Brooks was Assistant Division Commander of the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea] , and said, "Let me go over some of the tricks of the trade." He was having some problems with racial disturbance. And I said, "Let me--let me go over some of the tricks of the trade with you, that experience has taught me." And he listened, and he followed them, and he came out just fine.$$What did you tell him?$$The first things I told him was to ignore some of this foolishness like, the dashikis after hours. People were making a big deal out of dashikis after hours. I said, "Who cares about the dashikis? Let them wear the damn dashikis." Slave bracelets, they were wearing the slave bracelets. I said, "After hours, I wouldn't give a damn what they did as long as they don't get in trouble. Colin, don't fight that battle." And then, set the standards of discipline. You're gonna have one or two bad apples in there. Find them and cut their throats and get them out of there. Get those sergeants functioning and your unit's gonna be fine. And he commanded the First [Battalion] of the 32nd Infantry, as I remember. And he didn't need a lot of help from me. He just needed somebody's shoulder to cry on when those soldiers were going wild. And I provided that. He did fine.$So what did you tell them?$$Number one, I told (laughs) them, "We gonna cut your throat if you don't get yourself organized." See, I, I--I'm a disciplinarian. And the first thing I'm gonna tell you, "You gotta stay within the rules. If you don't stay within the rules, you're gonna get in trouble. And we not gonna miss you when you get marched to the stockade. Now, if you understand that, let's starting dealing with your grievances. What are your grievances?" Most of the grievances are small. Again, "Why can't I wear this slave bracelet after hours?" And I told the commandant, "Let them wear the slave bracelets after hours. Who cares?" As long as they--when the formation takes place, they are in West Point [U.S. Military Academy at West Point, West Point, New York] uniforms. And, you know, little things like that. Anyway, we got it calmed down.$$Okay, just a matter of--?$$Communicating with them. And somebody's listening to me. You know, these guys were very aggressive at that time, throughout the Army. Somebody's listening to me, and then there was an attitude among many general officers in the Army back then that the solution was to put the bad guys in jail, and that's all. You know, my, my solution also was to put a bad in guy in jail, but I had tried everything else that I could because I know that a lot of young soldiers--are followers and if you can cut the head off and keep these young people from running out there getting in trouble, they won't go to jail. That's why I didn't have anybody in jail. I had--actually had a period of time--I had--out of 15,000 soldiers--I didn't one person in the stockade.$$But anyway, going back to the race relations and so forth--I [as U.S. Army Director of Race Relations and Equal Opportunity ] organized a general officers' committee consisting of the general officers from each of the staff sections of the Army General Staff. I'm still a colonel. So I was the executive director, and my boss who was the three-star general, would get the information. This committee met and started looking at what policies did we have that's causing this problem? One of the policies that we had was that we were sending these soldiers--black soldiers--into soft-skill jobs. And so you tell the computer--"Where are the black soldiers?" And you look over there and you see truck drivers and ditch diggers and labor-type things and they're massed up there. We said, well, "Tell me about what's going on over here in the hard skills." And you have computers, survey, things of that nature. Then you tell the computer, "Based upon the requirements and the qualifications, are there enough black soldiers in the Army to fill those slots?" Run the computer, and you know what the computer said? "They're there. You're just not doing something right." And so we started changing policy [in May, 1971] to move black soldiers--qualifying black soldiers into those jobs. And we did something that somebody would say was wrong. For example, if there was a requirement for eleven to go into one of those jobs, we would arbitrarily tell the computer, "The first eight that are assigned are black. Find people with high scores--good records and put them in those jobs." And that goes on. But you see, the soldier doesn't know that we're doing all that. He's still restless out there. He doesn't know, that's the equal opportunity side of the house. Then--now they've got this race relations, and then you've got these noncommissioned officers who had no idea what they're doing--we had these general officers and these other officers who don't really understand the--the phenomenon and dynamics of what's going on. So we had to set up training for them to understand the race relation problem. And we established--the DOD [Department of Defense] established a race relations institute down in Florida and started sending people down there to get training. We required that each brigade-level unit have a race relations person, preferably a rather senior NCO [noncommissioned officer] or officer to advise the commander on how to deal with dynamics of what was going on in that unit. And so we did that throughout the Army.