THE SPHINX | Fall/Winter 2015 | Volume 101 | Number 1-2 | 201510101-02

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SPHINX Spring/Summer 2015 | LEADERSHIP

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity

LEADERSHIP THE URGENCY OF NOW Thank you, Brother Poindexter? | The Fight for Black Men: Part 4 of 4 | Why Baltimore Is Burning





in this issue



Urgency of Now: Baltimore, Focusing on Solutions


Why Baltimore Is Burning


Thank You, Brother Poindexter?


The Fight for Black Men: Part 4

Service | Advocacy Alpha Eagle Scouts honored by Boy Scouts of America


Leadership | Politics | Social Justice Teach The Past, Invest In The Future


Arts | Sports | Entertainment THE PHI: Part of The Fraternal Bond Series



Lifestyle | Education | Wellness Defying All Odds: Brother Palmer Keeps Zeal for Xi Lambda


Business | Finance


Chapter News



Omega Chapter


Alpha Leadership Directory






Official Publication of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity SPRING/SUMMER 2015 | Volume 101, No. 1-2 EDITOR-IN-CHIEF/ CREATIVE DIRECTOR Bryan J.A. Kelly MANAGING EDITOR Joshua S.D. Harris COPY EDITOR Amy Kopperude, Susie Mouri CONTRIBUTORS Rick Blalock, Mr. Eric Celeste, Joshua Dubois, Okey K. Enyia, James Ewers, James A. Gilmore, Ronald Green, Christina Grimes, Vincent T. Harris, Eric Ham, John Michael Lee Jr., Jonathan H.N. Long, Jamal Myles, Ramon Peralta, Kevin Powell, Ty Sosina, Jeffrey Sterling, Royce Strahan, Etienne Toussaint PHOTOGRAPHERS Trevor Holman, Bryan J.A. Kelly, Jeff Lewis COMMITTEE ON PUBLICATIONS Paul Brown, Chairman Malik C. Bullard, Tyler A. Clifford, Wendel Eckford, Anthony Harris, Jaquon C. Heath, Christopher N. Hunte, Edward L. Marshall, Rashid Mosley, Philip E. Parker, Donald L. Ross, Steven E. Templin II, Rudolph Williams II 2015 SUBMISSION DEADLINES (11:59 P.M. Eastern Time) Spring: January 15 | Summer: April 15 Fall: August 15 | Winter: October 15 EDITORIAL OFFICES Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity 2313 St. Paul Street Baltimore, MD 212I8-5211 (410) 554-0040

SPHINX Spring/Summer 2015 | LEADERSHIP

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity

ADVERTISING AND SALES LEADERSHIP THE URGENCY OF NOW Thank you, Brother Poindexter? | The Fight for Black Men: Part 4 of 4 | Why Baltimore Is Burning

© 2015 Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. | All Rights Reserved

2015 Spring-Summer [Leadership Issue] Cover Mockup.indd 1


10/29/15 1:41 PM

Just a reminder: Leading by example is the pinnacle of leadership in our communities. When one of us stands up, we all stand up. Photo taken by Trevor Holman Photography.




Alphas Invest Where It Counts Everyday brings us new hopes and aspirations and adventures and challenges—both inside the fraternity and outside “our House.” Like all organizations, Alpha must continue to focus on our mission of developing leaders and promoting academic excellence, while providing service and advocacy for the communities in which we live. I am asking that every Alpha brother conducts a personal assessment of himself and keep our mission and vision at the forefront of everything we do. We are a compilation of individual men who collectively make Alpha Phi Alpha. When each one of us improves as an individual, Alpha improves as a whole.

Mark S. Tillman General President Twitter: @alphainvest06

We will continue to make innovative changes in all facets of our operation—budget and management, membership, communications, finance, elections and more. We will work harder to ensure Alpha is better positioned to continue to make the investments that must be made in the communities that are counting on us, communities in which we are privileged to serve. I welcome your suggestions in this regard. On the world scene, there is so much for Alpha to do; from helping our cities heal in the midst of racial strife, to ensuring our young people have equal access to good quality education—from pre-kindergarten through college. We have to also work overtime to make sure all Americans have access to the ballot box. “A voteless people is a hopeless people” is not just a saying—it is very real. Whether or not there are federal, state, or local elections, does not mean we should rest with our chapter-level and nationwide voterregistration campaign. We should also remember to mentor. I have spent much of my life doing that as a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters. I urge you to find a young lad who needs a friendly, trustworthy role model and be his mentor. Even if it is just spending one hour a week with a young boy, you can make a world of difference—in his life and yours too! That is an investment worth making; and isn’t that why we joined Alpha in the first place? S









Award-Winning Leadership There are few things more difficult, or seemingly insurmountable, as the feeling of doing the right thing while knowing people are against you. A deep sense of paranoia sets in and you start to retreat into your thoughts. “Am I doing the right thing? Should I stop? Are they right and am I wrong?” Practicing self-reflection can keep a leader grounded in reality, but it can lead to stagnation and quite possibly the death of a vision. Leadership can be lonely. It can feel isolating and confusing, and a lot of people choose to criticize rather than be the change they want to see. The longer you are a member of this fraternity, you realize that inertia is not the Alpha way. If you are ready to change the world, you are not alone in this brotherhood.

Bryan J.A. Kelly Editor-in-Chief (Interim)

As I am sure is the case in your chapters, leaders are everywhere. Alpha was built on leadership. Even when most brothers reflect on the founding of this organization there are leaders who we thought negatively of, regardless of whether it is fair or unfair to do so (Thank you, Brother Poindexter? by Brother Donald Ross, p. 24). This proves that even if we work as hard and as diligently as we can, history might view us in a negative light. Yet, Alpha men continue to lead. We do not stand idly by and allow others to fight on our behalf (The Fight for Black Men: Part 4 of 4 by Brother Joshua Dubois, p. 34). Leaders field the tough questions (Why is Baltimore Burning? by Brother Kevin Powell, p. 18) and try to provide answers that challenge the power structure which has created tough issues in our communities (Urgency of Now: Baltimore, Focusing on Solutions by Brother Joshua S.D. Harris, p. 8). Throughout this magazine, you will read about Alpha men who broke down barriers (Defying All Odds, p. 50), inspired others through art (The Phi, p. 44), and provided leadership while giving back to their communities (Alpha Eagle Scouts Honored, p. 6, Teach the Past, Invest in the Future, p. 41). The Alpha man’s dedication to leadership and advocacy has borne critical thinkers and powerful change agents. It has also inspired a publication that has now been deemed an award-winning one. Brothers, I am proud to announce that The Sphinx magazine has received five awards at the 2015 Fraternal Communications Association Annual Awards, which took place in Louisville, Kentucky. Our magazine competed against 60 fraternal organizations and hundreds of entrants to become the winner of the five awards below: •

• •


First Place: Critics’ Choice Cover Design: This award honors outstanding design of a magazine and/or tabloid cover as determined by FCA members attending the annual meeting. First Place: Greek-Life Article: This award honors outstanding writing of articles, of any length, that focus on the fraternity/sorority system or student life. First Place: Design Feature Article: This award honors outstanding design of a feature article layout in a magazine or tabloid that is, in length, three published pages or longer.



Second Place: Story Packaging—Coverage of an Event, Member or Chapter: This award honors the ability to combine outstanding writing and design concepts to provide coverage of an event. Second Place: Writing - Persuasive or Opinion Article: This award honors outstanding writing of a persuasive essay of any length.

There are many people who have worked hard to bring us to this point. So many leaders sacrificed sleep, time with their loved ones, and financial resources to get to this point. Let us continue to aspire to lead, not because it is easy, but because we are Alpha men. Leadership is who we are and it is what we do. S





44 OUT OF 50

STATES CURRENTLY HAVE ANTI-HAZING LAWS. If you would like information on how to push for an anti-hazing law in your state, please contact


Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. joins other fraternities, sororities, parents and academic institutions in the fight against hazing. No one person can eliminate hazing. It takes the commitment of everyone involved in the process of joining a group organization to make it happen. We encourage you to join us to make this world a better place through hazing prevention. The more we know about hazing the smarter we can work to stop it. Go to to learn more about hazing prevention.




DEFINITION: Hazing is any action taken or any situation created intentionally that causes embarrassment, harassment or ridicule and risks emotional and/or physical harm to members of a group or team, whether new or not, regardless of the individuals’ willingness to participate.


Alpha Eagle Scouts honored by Boy Scouts of America


n Austin, Texas, the Boy Scouts of America’s (Texas) Capitol Area Council recently honored two Alpha men with the Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award. Brothers Bobby Ray Williams [Epsilon Tau Lambda ‘05] and Michael Files [Omicron Epsilon Lambda ‘03], both who serve on the fraternity’s national Boy Scouts Committee, were recognized in April, during a council awards dinner. The Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award recognizes outstanding service by an adult volunteer or an organization for demonstrated involvement in the development and Pictured from left: Dan Busby of the Scouts’ Southern Shores Field implementation of scouting opportunities for Service Council, Mike Yost, Brother Michael Files, Brother Bobby Ray youth from rural or low-income backgrounds. Williams and Dan Deverell. Williams is on the Capitol Area Council’s (CAC) Advisory Board and serves as chairman of the CAC’s African-American Committee on Scouting. In addition, Brother Files was also honored by the Scouts’ Southern Shores Field Service Council with the Silver Beaver Award. He was presented the accolade at a volunteer recognition celebration in Albion, Mich., in August. The Silver Beaver Award is the highest council-level award for distinguished service to youth. Files is a naval officer stationed in Battle Creek, Mich.

Pictured from left: Brothers Albert Thomas, past president of Gamma Eta Lambda Chapter, Maurice Gipson, Southwestern regional vice president, Bobby Ray Williams and Kevin Pete, president of Gamma Eta Lambda Chapter.

Both Williams and Files are Eagle Scouts. In addition, the brothers are Wood Badgers, Vigil Honor members of the Order of the Arrow and recipients of the fraternity’s Good Turn Service Award. S




Working Toward a Healthier Future Okey K. Enyia [Mu Mu, ’97], a native of Chicago, will now be serving as a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation urban health public policy fellow in Washington, D.C. He holds a master’s degree in public health from Chicago State University where he served as the vice president of the Master of Public Health (MPH) Student Association. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and biochemistry from Lewis University, Brother Enyia matriculated to Southern Illinois University-Carbondale where he became a James E. Walker presidential fellow. Most recently, he served as a program coordinator for the City Colleges of Chicago, where he advised students, managed projects, drafted policy statements, monitored budgets, coordinated graduation ceremonies, and worked closely with several health careers programs in terms of programmatic support. Brother Enyia currently serves on the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Commission on Public Policy discussing, among other things, his capstone project titled “State of the Union: African-American Men’s Health in the Age of the Affordable Care Act.” S

Be Like King The Alpha Nu Lambda and Gamma Phi Chapters hosted their 3rd Annual “BE LIKE KING” male retreat at Logan Hall on the campus of Tuskegee University. Young males, including toddlers from the Tuskegee community and the Auburn/Opelika area to college students from Tuskegee University, participated in the retreat. The “BE LIKE KING” retreat is the outgrowth of discussions by the men of Alpha Phi Alpha to develop programs that will enlighten young Black males about the principles of Brother Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The program also served as a catalyst to combat youth violence. Brothers Tyler Hunter [Gamma Phi ‘13] and Kenneth Denzel Butler [Gamma Phi ‘14] hosted the retreat where participants watched segments of the movie “King” and engaged in exercises to win gift cards. The event has been such a success, brothers have already started working on next year’s event. S






Photos by Trevor Holman Photography



By Joshua S.D. Harris


ince 1991 the international headquarters of our dear fraternity has had its home in the center of Baltimore. The headquarters and surrounding chapters have worked toward positively impacting the lives of young boys and men in hopes of bettering their lives and building the city. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.” As Baltimore seeks to pick itself up after the unrest that stormed the city after the death of Freddie Gray, an unarmed Black man who was killed by Baltimore City police, those famous words ring out and echo amidst the ruins of the more than 30,000 vacant properties that line the many socioeconomically challenged neighborhoods of this “Charm City,” Baltimore. Under the glare of an international media spotlight, the world recently saw the culmination of decades of neglect, unfair and discriminatory housing, poor policing, and weak legislative policies, that erupted into what many are calling the “Baltimore Riots.” SPRING/SUMMER 2015



I would rather refer to the event as the “Baltimore Awakening.” Baltimore, and indeed the world, has awakened to the fact that decades of federal funding and major grant dollars from large foundations have failed to produce change. While this failure has left many outsiders, and perhaps even you, feeling that these communities are hopeless, these efforts largely defeated themselves by failing to include the communities they sought to help in that very process, proving to be unsustainable without community support and participation. I have watched this sort of failure play out as an organizer in Baltimore and a board member of an organization tasked with


redeveloping a community in Baltimore. In what follows, I would like to evaluate some of the major problems facing Baltimore, provide some historical context for what has been attempted to create change, and provide possible solutions to the failures of these initiatives. I preface this with a simple question: Will the current leadership of Baltimore hear King’s words and realize the “Urgency of Now”? Understanding the Dynamics With a population of 395,781 AfricanAmerican citizens, Baltimore’s black residents account for just about 65 percent of the total population. The only major metropolitan city with a higher percentage of blacks is Detroit. After recent major development in Washington, D.C., whose black population



dropped below 50 percent, Baltimore is the new “Chocolate City.” Baltimore is not only one of the last major metropolitan cities with majority black populations in the country, but it is also one with black people at the forefront of political leadership. The question now becomes, will leadership focus on collaborative economics as a means to actually empower the full citizenship of Baltimore or take centuries of racism-based discriminatory policies and exchange them for classism-based discriminatory policies, which will, without question, disproportionately impact the black and brown people of Baltimore who long for opportunity and access?

some sense of community—if they don’t live within the city, let alone the communities they patrol? With Baltimore’s citywide glut of

Confronting Brutality Police brutality and the hyper militarization of the police force is not an issue confined to Baltimore alone, yet it is one that is particularly significant due to certain key factors. The U.S. justice department has performed extensive research on ways to curb police brutality, the most effective of which has been communitybased policing. In some areas of Baltimore, officers actually get out and walk the beat and get to know citizens. The problem is that the communities in which officers choose to perform community-based policing are not the ones that are in need or where the majority of police brutality incidents occur. The statistics show overwhelmingly that when police get to know residents and the community, they form much more of a bond and familiarity, making policing much more efficient. The largest obstacle to Baltimore’s implementation of community-based policing is that 75 percent of Baltimore police officers do not even live within the city limits, according to the U. S. Census. This number is even higher for white officers, 85 percent of whom do not live in the city. How can you expect officers to empathize—or at minimum have SPRING/SUMMER 2015



vacant properties, the city could even afford to give officers entire houses or at least grants toward purchasing homes as an incentive to live within the city, similar to numerous livenear-work programs the city offers. Imagine the millions that could have been saved in brutality lawsuits had officers felt a communal connection to the people they served. Poverty is Unhealthy Poverty is, although not often considered, an issue of public health. Baltimore City has a mortality rate nearly one and a half times higher than all of Maryland. According to the 2013 Baltimore City Health Disparities Report Card, “Baltimore City continues to 16

experience higher mortality rates and burden of disease than both the rest of Maryland, and the overall U.S. population.� Cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and other diseases run rampant in Baltimore. Surprisingly, 70 percent of premature deaths are the result of poor diet and lack of physical activity, according to the National Alliance of Nutrition and Activity. Largely, Baltimore is a food desert and many Baltimore communities suffer from lack of access to healthy food. Due to decades of unjust socioeconomic policies, Baltimore City is riddled with health inequities that are entirely preventable. Johns Hopkins recently published a study on the THE SPHINX


“Racial Food Deserts” of Baltimore, which showed that lack of access to parks, gyms, and supermarkets in minority neighborhoods coupled with over-saturation of convenience stores creates racial food deserts within the city. In Baltimore, both poverty and race play a major role in access to healthy food. Interestingly, in 2010, the Baltimore City Health Department attempted to solve this lack of access to healthy food by launching the BaltiMarket program, a partnership with ShopRite grocery store, designed to allow residents to order healthy food online and have it delivered to a location in their neighborhood. The program is made possible with support from several large grants. The program sounds great, unless you take a closer look at the functionality and efficiency of the program. First, let’s address the fact that these are low income communities, yet they are expected to have access to a personal computer and the Internet to order their healthy groceries that they cannot afford to travel outside of the community to pick up in the first place. Ponder that for a moment. Other problems are the user friendliness of the site, hours of operation for pick-up, and the limited locations. Assuming that residents are all unemployed and would not have to worry about taking off work to place orders for food, it works out great. While this initiative is a great step in the right direction, has it been effective? “Local policymakers should be looking at the quality of infrastructure in poor and minority neighborhoods to see if it could better support businesses,” said Kelly Bower, assistant professor at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, in a 2014 Johns Hopkins Magazine article. “And they should think about ways to incentivize supermarkets to locate in minority neighborhoods.” SPRING/SUMMER 2015

A Lack of Opportunity Forbes recently listed Baltimore as the 7th most dangerous city in the U.S., while Baltimore ranks 15th overall for all violent crimes except forcible rape. The experts would all say that Baltimore has a major crime problem and if you have seen the HBO series “The Wire,” you may agree. However, let’s say that Newton’s third law not only applies for motion but to life: “For each and every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Let’s say for a minute that violence and crime are the oppo17


site reaction, what would be the initial action and how can we counter it to begin to change the narrative of the city? According to, “Starting from the 1970s, studies in the U.S. pointed more and more at the link between unemployment, poverty and crime.” Generations have grown up with that reality as a way of life and culture, which is all they know. Baltimore does not have a crime problem but rather a lack of opportunity problem. Aristotle wrote, “POVERTY is the parent of crime.” In Baltimore, the absence of jobs has led to a flourishing drug trade. If there can be an intentional focus on tackling issues of mass poverty in Baltimore, we can begin to chip away at the crime issues. Although there have been tremendous efforts toward easing the poverty issues, many of them are centered on giving handouts. In efforts to help people do better and be better we cannot merely give them fish; we must teach them to fish and be self-sustaining. Crime issues in any city are in fact job, workforce, and skills training problems. If individuals are given the ability to provide for their families, then they will also learn responsibility and begin to focus on creating and building self-sustaining, healthy families. There have been many promises and programs in Baltimore that have had the intent to create jobs, yet it never seems to happen. In a recent Washington Post article, Michael S. Rosenwald and Michael A. Fletcher wrote, “The most significant problem according to community organizers and the Enterprise report (done by the Enterprise Foundation) was that new businesses and jobs never materialized.” Millions, if not billions of dollars have been poured into solving the ills of Baltimore; yet we stand today without much progress. 18



Poverty is a Business Accountability and oversight may very well be two of the most vital components to creating real positive change in the city. Poverty is indeed a business for many, and a thriving one whether it is an industry that makes billions off of keeping communities unhealthy or an industry of “poverty pimps” who find federal, state, and private dollars available to solve issues of poverty and make promises to create change but never quite do so. Because of funds going to those with leverage and visibility, many of the smaller more efficient programs never get resources to grow. Mismanagement and misappropriation of funds is a major issue in Baltimore. The frequency of unaccounted funds in Baltimore is astonishing. In 2011, $6 million in federal funds meant to assist HIV and AIDS patients went unaccounted for and an investigation had to be launched. In recent years, more than $1.8 billion has been given to Baltimore public schools, yet they still lack in resources and scores. An in-depth look at all city agencies would reveal and has revealed major discrepancies. Some might ask, why do the city council and mayor tolerate such poor accounting from city agencies to the point they have a third party to administer federal funds? Despite this, it has been decades since the city or any of its agencies have had an outside financial audit or management performance audit. There must also be accountability and oversight of best practices and most efficient ways to create long-term solutions. What often happens in Baltimore is that groups of academics put together amazing plans to positively impact impoverished areas of the city but never quite accomplish the task. Typically their greatest obstacle is reaching SPRING/SUMMER 2015

the people they wish to empower. “If you want to help the people, you have to first live amongst the people,” explained Munir Bahar, president of the 300 Men March, an organization focused on preventing violence in Baltimore. “You have to eat and sleep amongst the people before the people can trust you to help them.” Training and hiring people from the very communities you wish to serve to implement the plan is the best guarantee of effective implementation. Lastly, there has to be accountability and oversight for development projects. In Sandtown, the community where Freddie Gray was killed, there had been a major project to build new housing. But new housing does not address the issues of self-sufficiency. It also doesn’t help when those houses are built at the lowest costs and are unsafe and deteriorating in just a few years. Many people see community and infrastructure development as a great way to improve socioeconomically challenged communities. They work to bring in new franchise businesses and build nice new condos to attract new residents, all under the hope that mixing poor people with wealthy people will result in some of the values, habits, and money of the latter trickling down to the former. This is where we begin to see the spacial recognition of economic inequality, better known as gentrification. Often, the communities in which these development projects occur are not prepared with the soft skills necessary to thrive. As a result, you see the unintentional displacement of those people. Instead of solving the problem, it is merely displaced. When it comes to development, building houses and building healthy families are two different things and oversight is needed as a constant reminder. 19


“If we can hone the talent of these visionary leaders, Baltimore will once again be a great American city.”

Seeing the Future City planning and development should never be driven by profit alone but rather an evaluation of the “triple bottom line”— people, planet, and profit. A delicate balance of the three is what creates longlasting sustainable cities. A true evaluation of environmental sustainability will help determine what changes are needed and, in turn, what industries and jobs people should be trained for so that residents have the opportunity and ability to provide. There is no doubt that the leadership in Baltimore is interested in creating positive change within the city. The question becomes, is the city pursuing that aim in a way that will empower the current residents? Or are they more intently focused on pushing the problems outside of the city? Most major U.S. city development initiatives are perfectly content with simply displacing the problems from the major tourism hubs rather than actually solving the problems. Empowering existing residents would require a deliberate and intentionally focused effort as opposed to bringing in new residents who can afford and are prepared for new development. Focusing on job training and creation, accountability 20

and oversight, public health, and sustainability are only solutions if there is a will to actually develop current Baltimore residents. Despite the challenges, the “Baltimore Awakening” has made me hopeful. I have seen glimpses of courage and commitment in the eyes and actions of emerging leaders all across the city who are truly focused on advocating for the current citizens of Baltimore—leaders who realize the full citizenry of Baltimore and who are committed to total civic engagement in the city’s future. They are young, full of hope and vision, and prepared to galvanize all Baltimoreans and lead those often neglected communities to self-empowerment. These emerging leaders are intent on building the future of Baltimore with a focus on the true triple bottom line—putting people first, planet and sustainability second, and then a focus on generating capital. If we can hone the talent of these visionary leaders, Baltimore will once again be a great American city. S

Joshua S.D. Harris [Mu Chapter, ‘06] is a graduate of the Augsburg College, and managing editor of The Sphinx. Follow him on Twitter @ RealJoshHarris.






A protestor walks away as police in riot gear advance on the crowd after a 10 p.m. curfew went into effect in the wake of Monday's riots following the funeral for Freddie Gray, Tuesday, April 28, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Why Baltimore Is Burning By Kevin Powell


am from the ghetto. The first 13 years of my life I grew up in the worst slums of Jersey City, New Jersey, my hometown. If you came of age in one of America’s poor inner cities like I did then you know that we are good, decent people: in spite of no money, no resources, little to no services, run down schools, landpersons who only came around to collect rent, and madness and mayhem everywhere, amongst each other, from abusive police officers, and from corrupt politicians and crooked preachers, we still made a way out of no way. We worked hard, we partied hard, we laughed hard, we barbequed hard, we drank hard, we smoked hard, and we praised God, hard. And we were segregated, hard, by a local power structure that did not want the ghetto to be seen nor heard from, and certainly not to bring




its struggles out in plain sight for the world to see. Indeed my entire world was the block I lived on and maybe five or six blocks north, south, east, and west. A long-distance trip was going to Downtown Jersey City on the first of each month so our mothers—Black and Latina— could cash their welfare checks, buy groceries with their food stamps and, if we were lucky, we got to eat at Kentucky Fried Chicken or some other fast food restaurant on that special day. When I was about 15, I was badly beaten by a white police officer after me and a Puerto Rican kid had a typical boy fight on the bus. No guns, no knives, just our fists. The Puerto Rican kid, who had white skin to my Black skin, was escorted off the bus gingerly. I was thrown off the bus. Outraged, I said some things to the cop as I sat handcuffed in the back seat of a police car. He proceeded to smash me in the face with the full weight of his fist. Bloodied, terrified, broken in that moment, I would never again view most police officers as we had been taught as children: “Officer Friendly”. Being poor meant I only was able to go to college because of a full financial aid package to Rutgers University. I did not get on a plane until I was 24-years-old because of that poverty and also because I did not know that was something I could do. These many years later I have visited every single state in America, every city big and small, and every ghetto community you can name. They all look the same. Abandoned, burnt out buildings. Countless churches, funeral parlors, barber shops, beauty salons, check cashing places, furniture rental SPRING/SUMMER 2015

stores, fried chicken spots, and Chinese restaurants. Schools that look and feel more like prison holding cells for our youth than centers of learning. Playgrounds littered with broken glass, used condoms, and drug paraphernalia. Liquor stores here there everywhere. Corner stores that sell nothing but candy, cupcakes, potato chips, soda, every kind of beer you can name, loose cigarettes, rolling paper for marijuana, lottery tickets, and gum–lots and lots of gum. Then there are also the local organizations that claim to serve the people, Black and Latino people. Some mean well, and are doing their best with meager resources. Others only come around when it is time to raise money, to generate some votes for one political candidate or another, or if the police have tragically killed someone. Like Rekiya Boyd in Chicago. Like Miriam Carey in Washington, D.C. Like Tanisha Anderson in Cleveland. Like Yvette Smith in Texas. Like Aiyana Stanley Jones in Detroit. Like Eric Garner in New York City. Like Oscar Grant in Oakland. Like Walter Scott in South Carolina. Like Freddie Gray in Baltimore. Yes, we have the first Black president in the White House but it feels like open season on Black folks in America once more. 100 years ago this year the Hollywood image machine was given a huge boost by a racist and evil film called “Birth of A Nation,” a movie so calculating in the way it depicted Black people it set the tone, quite literally, for how we were portrayed and treated in every form of media for decades to come. 100 years ago it was common to see photos of African Americans, males especially, lynched, hung from trees, as 23


If you aren’t from the ghetto, if you have not spent significant time in the ghetto, then you would not understand the ghetto. the local good white folks visibly enjoyed their entertainment of playing hangman. 100 years later “Birth of A Nation” has been replaced by a 24-hour news media cycle still obsessed with race, racism, racial strife, racial violence, but no solutions and no action steps whatsoever, just pure sensationalism and entertainment. 100 years later the lynching photos have been replaced by cellphones capturing video of Walter Scott running away from a police officer, like a slow-footed character in a video game, only to be shot in the back— pop! pop! pop! pop! pop! pop! pop! pop! Except all of this is made real. Black people in America—the self-proclaimed greatest democracy on earth—are being shot by the police, in broad daylight, with witnesses, sometimes on video. And with very few exceptions nothing is happening to the cops who pulled the triggers. No indictments. No convictions. No prison time. 24



Baltimore firefighters battle a three-alarm fire Monday, April 27, 2015, at a senior living facility under construction at Federal and Chester Streets in East Baltimore. It was unclear whether is was related to the ongoing riots but was one of several fires in the area. (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)




And every single instance one of these scenarios occurs, we are handed the same movie script: Person of color is shot and killed by local police. Local police immediately try to explain what happened, while placing most of the blame, without full investigation, on the person shot. Police officer or officers who fired shots are placed on paid “administrative leave.” Media finds any and everything they can to denigrate the character of the dead person, to somehow justify why she or he is dead. Marches, protests, rallies, speeches. Local police show up in military-styled “riot gear.” Tensions escalate. Folks are arrested, people are agitated or provoked; all hell breaks loose.

“...what has been happening in America these past few years is not remotely close to any form of justice, or equality.” The attention has shifted from the police killing an innocent person to the violence of “thugs,” “gangstas,” “looters.” The community is told to be nonviolent and peaceful, but no one ever tells the police they should also be nonviolent and peaceful. Whites in power and “respectable Black voices” call for calm, but these are the same folks who never talk about the horrific conditions in America’s ghettoes that make any ‘hood a time bomb just waiting for a match to ignite the fury born of oppression, marginalization, containment, and invisibility. These are the same people who’ve been spent little to no time with the poor. If you aren’t from the ghetto, if you have not 26

spent significant time in the ghetto, then you would not understand the ghetto. No matter. Big-time civil rights organizations, big-time civil rights spokespersons, and big-time church leaders are brought in to re-direct, control, and contain the energy from the people at the bottom. Started from the bottom now we here. But those who seek to tame the people really cannot because the people have seen this movie a million times before. They know it is madness to be told to let justice take its course. They know it is madness to wait out a legal system that rarely if ever indicts and convicts these police officers who’ve shot and killed members of their community. They know it is madness to be told to stay cool, to be cool, when they have no healthy outlets for their trauma, their pain, their rage. They know it is madness to hear pundits and talking heads of every stripe on television and radio and via blogs analyze who they are, without actually knowing who they are. They know it is madness when middle class or professional Black folks speak the language of the power structure and condemn the people in the streets instead of the system that created the conditions for why the people are in the streets. They know it is madness that so-called progressive, liberal, human rights, or social justice people of any race or culture have remained mightily silent as these police shootings have been going down coast to coast. And they know it is madness that most of these big-time leaders and big-time media only come around when there is a social explosion. So they do end up exploding, inside of themselves, and inside their communities. They would love to reach areas outside their ‘hoods THE SPHINX


but the local power structure blocks that from happening. So they destroy their own communities. I understand why. I am they and they are me. Any people with nothing to lose will destroy anything in their way. Like anything. Any people who feel as if their lives are not valued, like they are second-class citizens at best, will not be stopped until they’ve made their point. They, we, do not care if our communities have not rebounded from the last major American rebellions of the 1960s. We care that we have to live in squalor and misery and can be shot at any given moment by each other, or by the police, and no one seems to care. A rebellion, a riot, are pleas for help, for a plan, for a vision, for solutions, for action steps, for justice, for God, someone, anyone, to see our humanity, to do something. Condemning them is condemning ourselves. Labeling the Baltimore situation a riot because it is mostly people of color is racist given we do not call white folks behaving violently after major sporting events rioters or thugs or gangstas, and Lord knows some white folks have destroyed much property in America, too. It ain’t a democracy if white people can wild out and it is all good; but let people of color wild out and it becomes a state of emergency with the National Guard dropping in, armed and ready. Black lives matter, all lives matter, equally. I believe that, I believe deeply in peace and love and nonviolence. I believe in my heart that we’ve got to be compassionate and civil toward one another, as sisters and brothers, as one human race, as one human family. I believe that our communities and police forces everywhere have to sit down and talk and listen as equals, not as enemies, to figure out a way toward life and love, not toward death and hate; a way toward a shared community where we all feel safe and welcomed and human. SPRING/SUMMER 2015

Yes, I love people, all people. But I also believe in justice, for all people. And I know that what has been happening in America these past few years is not remotely close to any form of justice, or equality. Imagine, if you will, white folks being shot and murdered by the police like Freddie Gray was, what the reactions would be? Imagine if George Zimmerman had gone vigilante on a white youth with a hoodie in that gated Florida complex. Imagine white parents having to teach their children how to conduct themselves if ever confronted by the police. Imagine that Aiyana Stanley Jones was a little 7-year-old white girl instead of a little 7-yearold Black girl, shot by the police as she slept on a sofa with her grandmother, in a botched raid? It would be a national outrage. Baltimore is burning because America is burning with racism, with hate, with violence. Baltimore is burning because far too many of us are on the sidelines doing nothing to affect change, or have become numb as the abnormal has become normal. Baltimore is burning because very few of us are committed to real leadership, to an agenda with consistent and political, economic, and cultural strategies for those American communities most under siege, most vulnerable. Policing them to death is not the solution. Putting them in prison is not the solution. And, clearly, ignoring them is not the solution. S

Kevin Powell [Zeta Eta ‘08] is a cofounder of BK Nation, a new national organization and blog website. He is also an activist, public speaker, and author or editor of 11 books. His 12th book, The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey into Manhood, will be published by Atria/Simon & Schuster in November 2015. You can email him, kevin@, or follow him on twitter, @ kevin_powell




This photo, provided by Bro. Dr. Lateef Saffore, a WV State alum and Alpha Zeta initiate, shows C. C. Poindexter (standing, 2nd from the left) as a cadet at the school in the late 1890s




“Among this group, the name of C. C. Poindexter deserves special mention. He may be regarded as the precursor of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.”


or the living members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, the name C.C. Poindexter is a familiar one. Since 1929 members have been taught that he was a “precursor” to the organization becoming a fraternity. For some, he is as acceptable as Benedict Arnold in American history. For some others, the mention of his name reminds them of a fraternal mystery. And for a few, such as this writer, the speaking of his name wasn’t permitted during the membership process. With that information as a backdrop, the enigma of Charles Cardoza “C.C.” Poindexter in the annals of the history of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity is a matter that can now receive greater understanding. The intention is to provide recent research to uncover information that more accurately reflects his involvement at the inception of the fraternity. From there the plan is to receive input from the General Brotherhood, positive and negative and then have the fraternity’s Historical Commission determine whether any changes or updates would be justified. Both Poindexter and original history book author, Bro. Dr. Charles Harris Wesley, were from what is now the Midwestern Region of Alpha. Poindexter was born in Pennsboro, W.V. and Wesley in Lexington, Ky. As Midwestern Regional Historian and a member of SPRING/SUMMER 2015

the National Historical Commission, I was asked to assist in revising our national history book. That work led to uncovering anomalies in what information and what details were included in the history book dialogue. It was determined that a review of what was learned should be shared prior to an analysis of what was found. Following are excerpts of what has been reported to fraternity members since the first printing of The History of Alpha Phi Alpha – A Development in Negro College Life in 1929. Poindexter had been dead for 16 years at the time of the printing and no documentation, to date, has been found validating assertions he ever opposed the fraternal idea prior to that publication. According to Wesley’s The History of Alpha Phi Alpha – A Development in College Life, in Chapter I, The Origin of Alpha Phi Alpha, during the meeting of December 4, 1906, “(C.C.) Poindexter was now absent. He was an older student than the others and had led them from the first meeting. They had respected his opinions and did not desire to oppose his preference. He had a faculty relationship, as secretary to one of the professors, which was unique among them and he was therefore regarded in a different light. However, with his resignation before them, a measure of freedom was felt which had not been actively present before. Individual opinions were expressed freely.” 29


Photo of C.C. Poindexter at Fisk University.

1905-1907 Dec 1905 Meeting 421 N. Albany St. First group session organized by C.C. Poindexter Attended by Poindexter, Murray, Ogle, Phillips, Chapman, Kelley, Callis, Tompkins, Tandy 3/31/06 Wedding Conastota, N.Y. Poindexter and H. Florence Newton marry Florence is the daughter of Edward Newton 5/1/06 Article Published Voice of the Negro An article by Charles Poindexter appears in this magazine the infers his support of the fraternal concept for the Negro in education.

Mar 1906 Alpha Phi Alpha name is introduced According to May 23, 1965 letter from H.A. Callis to Dr. Wesley in Callis "Life & Legacy" book 1/10/06 Publication Ohio State Lantern

6/9/06 Banquet 411 E. State St.

10/16/06 Meeting 411 E. State St. Night of meeting; time & length of meetings; initiation of new members; dues; policy of organization; course of study; music

6/2/06 Meeting 604 E. Buffalo St. Study topics discussed; election held; 1st Annual Banquet planned Room of N. Murray 5/23/06 Meeting 411 E. State St. Alpha Phi Alpha name is unofficially introduced Per Callis "Life and Legacy" book


News of Pi Gamma Omicron was reported in the Ohio State newspaper, The Lantern, on January 10, 1906. Since CC wrote for the paper, he may have learned from this source instead of the Chicago Defender, as stated in the history book.

11/2/06 Initiation Banquet Masonic Hall Program speech topics: Why Organize; Welcome, Brother; The Freshman; Brotherhood; Courage,Brother; Persevere, Brother, Loyalty; Ideals

11/6/06 Meeting 411 E. State St. Treasurer’s report

10/30/06 Initiation Masonic Hall Initiates E. Jones, L. Graves & G. Jones

10/27/06 Meeting 411 E. State St. Initiation arrangements finalized

10/23/06 Meeting 411 E. State St. Prospective initiates approved Minutes appear in 1953, 1957 & 1969 edition of the history book


FEATURE 4/9/07 Meeting 411 E. State St. Kelley is chairman, pro tem; Murray moved that Chapman be contacted regarding his affiliation with the organization

11/30/06 Church Entertainment Zion Church Participants are: Tompkins, Poindexter, Kelley, Graves, Morton, Tandy & Callis Last activity with Poindexter present and acting as president

11/13/06 Meeting 411 E. State St. Church entertainment approved; request for a pin design approved

4/16/07 Meeting 601 E. Buffalo St. Photographer Van Buren approved for group photo

12/4/06 Meeting 411 E. State St. Decision to become a fraternity approved; Tompkins resignation accepted with regret Present: Callis, Chapman, Graves, E. Jones, G. Jones, Kelley, Morton, Murray, Ogle, Tompkins, Tandy

11/23/06 Rehearsal 411 E. State St. Program preparation

4/23/07 Meeting A group photo was approved for April 27, 1907

5/7/07 Meeting Report presented on law documents for incorporation

2/5/07 Meeting 411 E. State St. No significant action

11/29/06 Thanksgiving Day 11/22/06 Meeting 411 E. State St. Program planning & final banquet financial report presented by the treasurer, G. Kelley, Poindexter presided. Minutes appear in 1953, 1957, and 1969 edition of the history book


1/15/07 Meeting 411 E. State St. Kelley is chairman, pro tem, Ogle is secretary, pro tem

1/8/1907 Meeting 411 E. State St. Poindexter resignation accepted with regret; committee appointed to draft a constitution Poindexter begins new job in Hampton, Va

4/27/07 Photo Session Van Buren Studios Participants were: Tandy, E. Jones, Ogle, Morton, Murray and G. Jones

2/19/07 Meeting Noted as Alpha Phi Alpha Society; Ogle elected as secretary; Tandy motioned for securing a charter of incorporation



This Cornell Alumni news document from 1925 notes CC's obituary on page 215 and that he started working at Hampton Institute January 1907, which is the likely reason for the December 1906 resignation letter.




Additionally, in the second paragraph of Chapter II, The Period of Consolidation, the following is stated: “Among this group, the name of C. C. Poindexter deserves special mention. He may be regarded as the precursor of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. Without his serious and eager leadership, it is probable that the fraternal organization would have advanced more slowly. He was the moving spirit in the literary organization, which served as the predecessor of the fraternity. He acted as the president of the group and continued in office during the formation of the early policies and also through the first initiation in the Alpha Phi Alpha Society. But when it became clear to him that his influence was waning and that it was the purpose of the group to establish a fraternity, in a spirit of self-sacrifice, he absented himself from the meeting in which the decision was to be made and later sent in his resignation.” In addition to the quotes information, the following items have appeared in every edition of the history book and remained unchanged in the new revision for 2014: • • •

Original members were brought together by Poindexter as a literary study group The sessions were informal and gradually became structured The group was brought together in December 1905 at the home of Edward Newton, where Poindexter was residing, at 421 North Albany Street Initial elected officers were Poindexter, president; Henry A. Callis, secretary and George B. Kelley, treasurer Early meetings included undated sessions in March and May 1906, with all presided over by Poindexter The fraternity name, colors and first initiates were officially approved October 23, 1906 The first initiates were Lemuel E. Graves,


• •

• •

• • •

Eugene K. Jones and Gordon H. Jones The first initiation is held October 30, 1906 An initiatory banquet was held and presented speeches included the themes, Welcome Brother; Brotherhood; Courage, Brother; and Persevere, Brother Poindexter’s letter of resignation was presented but not accepted on December 4, 1906 The group decided officially to become a fraternity on December 4, 1906 George Tompkins stated on December 4, 1906 that he could not be part of a fraternity The resignation of Poindexter was accepted with regret on January 8, 1907 George B. Kelley is identified as the first president of Alpha Chapter The Sphinx is first published March 1914

During the course of reviewing the first 20 editions of the history book, along with Wesley’s 1977 publication, Henry Arthur Callis Life and Legacy, and by checking an array of other resources, items uncovered include the following new information. It must be noted this data could lead to adjustments to the Alpha history. These revelations have been shared and discussed with National Historian Bro. Dr. Robert Harris, Jr., fellow Historical Commission member, Bro. Dr. Norman Towels, former National Historian Bro. Dr. Thomas Pawley and the other members of the Historical Commission. An article was located in Atlanta by Bro. Edward Hightower that offered actual words by Poindexter from that era. In a publication called Voice of the Negro, printed May 1906, he wrote an article titled, Some Student Experiences. In the article he addressed incidences that occurred at Cornell University since his arrival in the Fall of 1905. Poindexter concluded his 33


CC's death certificate, noting Acute Peritonitis as the cause and Hernioplasty as contributory.

final paragraph with some sentiments regarding Negro fraternalism: “No greater boon could come to the present and embryonic generations of the Negro than the birth of a healthy and vigorous fraternalism founded upon the divine conception that my brother is my ward and my posterity his protégé. It would appear that no better nursery were available for the propagation of such altruism than the educational forces of the land.” Following are additional details we have learned: •


In 1906 Callis worked at the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity House

• •

In 1906 Kelley worked at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity House In a January 15, 1929 letter to Wesley, Callis said much of the initiation ceremony “was gotten directly from old fraternities” According to a January 16, 1929 letter to Wesley, Callis states the fraternal name was first introduced in March 1906 Callis offered to secure additional information regarding Pi Gamma Omicron at Ohio State University. Callis’ contact was honorary Bro. H.A. Turner of Chicago, a founder of Pi Gamma Omicron On March 31, 1906 Florence Newton THE SPHINX


• •

• • • •

• • • •

• •

(daughter of Edward Newton) married Poindexter January 1907 Poindexter began a new job in Virginia at Hampton Institute Poindexter also took a position as director of agriculture for the American Church Institute for Negroes Meeting minutes state that Kelley served as acting president, president pro tem and interim president the entire spring 1907 term Charles Chapman attended no meeting in 1907, but graduated that year Chapman spoke at the second initiatory banquet, but was not on the program Callis left in January and was replaced as secretary by Ogle The group continued in meeting minutes to be referenced as a society throughout 1907 Poindexter began teaching at Fisk University in 1909 Poindexter taught Wesley at Fisk in 1909 Wesley received his bachelor’s degree from Fisk in 1911 Poindexter died June 3, 1913 from complications after a surgery in Nashville, Tenn. Fourth General President Bro. Charles Garvin cited the founding date as October 23, 1906 in a 1916 article on the fraternal history in The Sphinx In March 1922 Poindexter is listed as an alumnus of Alpha Chapter in Omega Chapter in that directory issue of The Sphinx, also listed in Omega Chapter are James H. Morton and Chapman According to former General Historian Bro. Dr. Thomas Pawley III, the term “Jewel” comes from the seven jewels used on our fraternity pin (badge) – and Tandy had no specified reason for the number Pawley attributed later use of the term jewel to “a coincidence in our history” At the December 1926 General Conven-


• •

• • • • • •

tion, 12th General President Raymond Cannon secures approval for the publication of a fraternal history book In 1929 Wesley’s The History of Alpha Phi Alpha A Development in Negro College Life is published The first six editions; 1929, 1935, 1939, 1942, 1948, and 1950; include only three early meeting minutes Those minutes are from the meeting dates October 23 and December 4, 1906 and January 8, 1907 When the first edition of the history was being drafted, most Founders were inaccessible to Wesley Callis was in Chicago, Ill. and then in Alabama at Tuskegee Institute Chapman was teaching in Florida (presumed dead according to The Sphinx March 1922) Kelley was in Troy, N.Y. working Morton was presumed dead Murray was teaching in Washington, D.C., accessible to Wesley Ogle was nearby working for the Senate Committee on Appropriations Tandy was in New York with his architectural business December 1952 Eugene K. Jones is named a Founder and Jewel in place of Morton The 1953 edition of the fraternal history book includes 37 meeting minutes dating from June 2, 1906 through April 11, 1908

At present, attempts are being made to secure an official Fisk transcript on Bro. Wesley and to determine accurately which classes, if any, he had with Poindexter as his instructor. We have found in statements presented by Founder N.A. Murray that he asserts that Poindexter felt Negros were not ready to have a fraternity. In the Henry 35


Arthur Callis Life and Legacy on page 30, Murray said, “But when the idea of organizing a colored fraternity was suggested, he (Poindexter) did all he could to discourage the idea, and the majority of the Founders agreed that for that reason his name should never be linked with the early history of Alpha Phi Alpha. When asked for financial aid he turned a deaf ear to our plea. In the early years when his advice and experiences would have been a great help to us, he was very antagonistic.” In The Talented Tenth, The Founders and Presidents of Alpha by Bro. Herman Mason, Bro. Oliver B. Cassel of Alpha Chapter disputes that notion. On page 278, Cassel detailed an interview he had with Edward Newton about the fraternal founding. Cassel referred to Poindexter as a “Jewel” and a “founder.”

• In addition to the above documentation, the following information provides additional context to Poindexter’s role in the early years of Alpha Phi Alpha: •

• •


Poindexter, worked at Cornell serving as a personal secretary under Thomas F. Hunt between 1903-1907 Poindexter served as Director of Agriculture at the Institute for Colored Youth in Cheyney, Pa. 1904-1905; Director of Agriculture at the American Church Institute for Negroes at St. Paul’s School in Lawrenceville, Va. 1907-1909; and joined Fisk in 1909 as Professor of Agronomy and Biology until his death in 1913 Poindexter only attended Cornell as a student between 1905-1906 Poindexter was with the Alpha Phi Alpha group for the entire year, December 1905-November 1906 Murray stating in 1906 that Poindexter was against the fraternal idea, has not

been supported by either direct documents found from the time or by surviving members from 1906 The fraternal name, colors, and procedures for conducting meetings and processes for preserving records occurred while Poindexter was in charge The process for and initiation of new members was implemented under his leadership The early history books that contained only three meeting minutes were printed over a 23-year period of time Poindexter oversaw activities and gatherings eight times between the meetings conducted on October 23, 1906 and December 4, 1906 Those activities took place on October 27-30 and November 2, 6, 13, 22, 23, and 30, 1906 Meeting minutes show the group needed clarification regarding Poindexter’s resignation letter, which was not accepted until January 8, 1907 Poindexter was living and working in Virginia in January 1907

A final item of note, in a January 15, 1929 letter that Callis penned to Wesley, he said in the last paragraph, “I have been one of those who favored the retention of the name C.C. Poindexter. In the study of data so carefully arranged and presented, I become perfectly satisfied with the retention of Morton’s name to the exclusion of others.” Efforts have been made to locate any record of a Black student named James H. Morton at Cornell University, during the founding of Alpha Phi Alpha. He is listed at the Cornell Medical College in the incorporation papers of January 1908. With the assistance of National Historian Bro. Dr. Harris, we have learned that no transcript or record of Morton could be THE SPHINX


found at either the main campus in Ithaca, or the medical campus in New York City, as was noted in the incorporation document. Today we count E.K. Jones but don’t include his fellow initiates Lemuel Graves and Gordon Jones. Ultimately, the records show that at the end of the meeting on December 4, 1906 there were 11 men on the organization’s roster: Callis, Chapman, Graves, E. Jones, G. Jones, Kelley, Morton, Murray, Ogle, Poindexter and Tandy. How we note these 11 in our future histories will be determined by what is uncovered, coupled with the wishes of the brotherhood.

Final conclusions have not yet been made and more research is being conducted as to how Poindexter’s role has historically been presented. As more information is discovered, it will be shared. The goal is not to change history, but include more accurate information as to events concerning what can be proved to have occurred in order to more accurately present and depict the history of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. S

Donald Ross [Beta Theta ‘83] is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Historical Commission and Publications committees.








y job,’ says Coates, ‘is to help close the gap between what they see in us and who we actually are.’

I asked Coates about the best way to help black men who are struggling, and he didn’t point to a particular program. Instead, he said, “If there’s one thing that’s missing in our country, it’s an acknowledgment of the broad humanity of black folks. Racism—and antiblack racism in particular—is the belief that there’s something wrong with black people … and I mean something in our bones.” He continued, “In our own community, we’ve internalized this. We wonder if we lack moral courage.” “I want the country to understand that there’s


nothing wrong with us,” Coates says, with urgency in his voice. “Things have happened in this country, but there’s nothing wrong with us. My job is to help close the gap between what they see in us and who we actually are.” “WHO WE actually are.” It took Joe Jones about two decades to figure that out. That’s how long he was strung out—after his dad pulled off in the Thunderbird, his mom went away to work, and he made a series of bad decisions on Edmonson Avenue; after jail made him more of a criminal and a junkie, not less. By 1986, Joe was spending $800 to $900 a day on a mixture of heroin and crack. There were some bright moments—the birth of his son, a job at the Social Security Administration. But in one way or another, they all THE SPHINX


were deflated, pricked by the same needle that he regularly thrust into his arm. Finally, facing a five-year prison sentence for drug possession, Joe argued and cajoled his way into an in-patient treatment program instead. He told me: “There was a six-month wait for the program, but I knew I needed to get in now. The only way you could get in was if you were crazy, so I acted as crazy as I could.” It worked. And from the moment he got serious treatment, things kept working for Joe. I asked him how it all came together and he told me it was pretty simple: people listened to him, got to know him, and they liked him. There was the staff at the treatment center who SPRING/SUMMER 2015

grew to know Joe Jones as not just an addict but a man, “counselors and therapists who could help me understand why I did the things that I did. There was the dean at Baltimore City Community College, who admitted Joe despite his criminal record. He and Joe became so close that Joe ended up counseling the dean when the dean’s son was struggling with his own drug addiction. Joe graduated from the college with an accounting degree, at the top of his class. There was also the young woman Joe met in the financial aid office at this community college—she liked him so much that she later became his wife. This phenomenon of knowing, and liking, was repeated over and over in my interviews 39


We may be “locking up the only potential we’ve got to revitalize inner-city neighborhoods.” with experts on troubled youth. As Geoffrey Canada, CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone—our country’s go-to model for turning around tough neighborhoods—told me, “First you have to know them, and then you have to like them, enough to respect what they’re going through but not accept responses that may be inappropriate.” Canada continued, “You really do have to like them. Boys, when they’re threatened and angry, they act out in ways that make them difficult to deal with. They can become threatening, sullen, disrespectful. They learn to be frightening as a defense mechanism in the environments they have to navigate. “When you don’t like them,” he said, “those are reasons to get rid of them—to put them out of programs, put them out of schools, to call the police to deal with them, lock them up. But when they’re kids that you actually know, and actually like, they will listen to you, and you will listen to them. And that’s where change starts.”


types of men and women he grew up around. Funded in part by Shawn Dove’s campaign, Joe’s center has a successful job-training program, including partnerships with major Baltimore employers. They have a fatherhood program that gives dads practical skills to reconnect with their kids and pay back child support. Joe also wrote state legislation called “Couples Advancing Together”; it’s based on a simple but powerful idea that low-income men and women who are romantically involved should develop life plans and financial goals together. Social programs focusing on job training and financial literacy have traditionally served these couples separately, instead of acknowledging that their goals and life plans are inherently intertwined. Joe’s couples-services concept has the potential to dramatically change how these programs work; it passed the Maryland legislature in April and was signed into law by Gov. Martin O’Malley in May. We may be “locking up the only potential we’ve got to revitalize inner-city neighborhoods. ”

A few people got to know Joe Jones, and then like him. And his life changed. Joe entered a series of nonprofit jobs, from HIV counseling to health care, and eventually began working for the Baltimore Health Department. He persuaded the city of Baltimore to start a fatherhood program, along with programs on maternal and child health. These efforts were so successful that the mayor of Baltimore at the time, Kurt Schmoke, helped Joe spin them off into a larger, independent organization, which became the Center for Urban Families, the organization that Joe runs today.

And a few weeks ago, something special happened. The man who perhaps most radically symbolizes both the hope of black men in America and the challenges from which they spring stopped by to see Joe Jones. President Obama, himself a product of a single-parent household, visited the CFUF to say hello to Joe and the men he serves. Obama met with employers, people being trained for jobs, and dads getting back on track. His remarks were private, candid, and—based on accounts from those in attendance—had quite an impact on a bunch of guys from West Baltimore who were struggling to make it by.

At the Center for Urban Families (CFUF), Joe uses evidenced-based models to help the same

Later that same weekend, Obama traveled to Morehouse College in Atlanta to deliver a THE SPHINX


We have walked a winding road with black men in this country, with no small amount of pain and tears along the way. speech to the black male graduates there. He was to talk about fatherhood and responsibility, and what African-American men must do to compete in the world. But in one brief, unscripted moment at Morehouse, the two dichotomized worlds of black men—Joe’s new one and his old one; the soaring heights of the presidency and the depths of the streets—briefly and powerfully collided. I had been a small part of the planning process for the speech. Obama’s relationship with his father—years of absence and brief flickers of presence—is one of the defining aspects of his life. While I grew up with a strong and supportive stepfather, my own biological father had a beautiful, tragic, and deeply complicated story—a Black man who received a Ph.D. from Cornell University, and ended his life in a federal penitentiary in North Carolina. Out of this common set of experiences, I worked for years with the president on his fatherhood initiative, an effort to help absent fathers around the country get back on the right track. I had the text in front of me as Obama was delivering the speech. So it came as a surprise when, as the president neared his close, something pulled him away from the prepared remarks. He was supposed to be moving to a final story about one of the graduates, but instead started talking about men who had been left behind. I have to imagine he was picturing men like those he saw at the CFUF, men like those he had known his whole life. Men like Joe.

cial obligation I felt, as a Black man like you, to help those who need it most, people who didn’t have the opportunities that I had.” He continued, “Because there but for the grace of God go I. I might have been in their shoes. I might have been in prison”—a jarring thing to hear from the president of the United States. “I might have been unemployed. I might not have been able to support a family. And that motivates me …” Obama’s voice faded off into a trail of emotion and applause, and he returned to the text. But the point was made. We have walked a winding road with black men in this country, with no small amount of pain and tears along the way. But all Americans have walked that road together. Our connection to each other is, as James Baldwin once said of the relationship between blacks and whites, “far deeper and more passionate than any of us like to think.” And it’s that connection, that empathy, that “there but for the grace of God go I” mentality, that must motivate our society’s efforts on behalf of low-income black men. Because our history, our present circumstance, and our humanity demand it. Because there are boys walking the streets of this country with the brightest of futures—the next Shawn Dove, the next Joe Jones, the next Barack Obama—if only they were given a shot. S

Joshua DuBois [Eta Lambda, ‘11],

“Whatever success I have achieved,” the president said, “whatever positions of leadership I have held have depended less on Ivy League degrees or SAT scores or GPAs, and have instead been due to that sense of connection and empathy—the speSPRING/SUMMER 2015

author of The President’s Devotional, is former executive director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Follow him on Twitter: @JoshuaDuBois




Teach The Past, Invest In The Future


magine a house on the corner of an inner city neighborhood in Birmingham, Ala. From inside you can hear the blasting sounds of police sirens echo through the walls and see the reflection of red and blue lights in the window as patrol cars speed down 6th Ave. South. And just steps away from the front door, sidewalks run perpendicular to drug–infested alleys where young Black kids walk alongside street corners passing illegal activities that could unfortunately lead to prison or death. This image was more than a vivid mental picture for me. It was my reality. I am from the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement; a city with neighborhoods tainted with racial disparity. But, I refused to allow my environment or society to chart my path in life. Birmingham’s recent and influential growth is a testament to the lessons of overcoming adversity. Birmingham has taught me to be persistent and show integrity. It was this historic city’s broken past that motivated me to succeed and inspire kids facing similar obstacles to overcome existing systemic barriers. During the past few weeks, students in Alabama have been celebrating and recognizing Black History Month in a variety of ways. Some have read a book by a Black author, written a research paper on an influential Black inventor, or watched a cinematic depiction of Black history in their classrooms. But, when I became a teacher in 2007, I knew I had an obligation to go a step further and share my city with my students. In my classroom hung a poster that read, “Courage: Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear and difficulty.” Above these words was a vivid photo of three young Black kids in 1963 relentlessly trying to shield their bodies from the surge of powerful water hoses as they protested in Kelly Ingram Park for the right to an equal education for all students in Birmingham, Ala. I would often point to the poster and remind my students to never take for granted the opportunities they are afforded. This often led to discussions about inequity and how the past can impact the future. But, on one particular day, a student stared at me with a perplexed look and said, “So! Mr. Harris why should I care? I wasn’t there.” I immediately mustered up a sense of calm and patience and responded, “What matters is that they were there, 42

and because of them, we are able to stand here today and learn, teach, and grow together.” It was in that moment that I realized my generation has a responsibility to work to ensure that every kid is moving through a system that affirms their identities, shows them they’re valued, and allows them access to the knowledge and opportunities they have been denied for far too long. It wasn’t until I opened my students’ eyes to the impact of Birmingham’s history, Black history, and our country’s history that they began to recognize the struggles of the past in their present—the disparities that exist in our country’s education system, the injustices they hear about on the news and witness in their own communities, or the statistics that say they won’t succeed because of the color of their skin. These lessons won’t be forgotten. While the “whites only” signs of the ’60s have come down, the reality of separate and unequal endures. I joined Teach For America because I wanted to have a hand in shaping our future leaders. I wanted more students to look at the front of the classroom and see an example of what’s possible for their lives. With the same courage and dedication it has taken my city of Birmingham, Ala. to rise above its tainted past, it will take the hard, dedicated work of countless leaders and change-makers to fix the systemic inequality many groups experience. We must work toward these longterm changes, as well as the immediate opportunities before us, to ensure that every student gets a quality education and shares their gifts with others. Choose to teach and you can help invest in the future. Whether you decide to enter the profession through traditional pathways or alternative ones like Teach For America, we all can remind our kids that their thoughts, ideas, identities and opinions are meaningful and have a purpose. We can show them their worth by nurturing a sense of courage that will inspire them to ultimately do the same for others. S

Vincent T. Harris [Omicron Kappa ‘03] is a Birmingham native and a 2006 graduate of Auburn University. He completed a doctoral thesis while serving as the graduate coordinator for the Black Male Leadership Initiative at Louisiana State University. THE SPHINX



WVSU Building Named in Honor of Distinguished Alumni Judge


ast fall, West Virginia State University opened its first new residence hall since 1969. The new Judge Damon J. Keith Scholars Hall is named in honor of Alpha Brother Damon J. Keith [Alpha Zeta ‘39], a WVSU alumnus who has served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit since 1977.

A native of Detroit, Keith is a 1943 graduate and earned a law degree at Howard University Law School in Washington, D.C. As a member of the federal judiciary, Keith has earned a reputation as a defender of the constitutional and civil rights of all people. In U.S. v. Sinclair, commonly referred to as “the Keith decision,” the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed his landmark ruling prohibiting President Richard Nixon and the federal government from engaging in warrantless wiretapping in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Keith Scholars Hall features suite-style living with two-, three- and four-bedroom suites, in addition to a café and gaming room on the building’s first floor. “We are so excited to be opening our newest residence hall in time for the start of fall 2014 classes,” said WVSU President Brian O. Hemphill, also a member of the fraternity. “This remarkable new facility will not only be a modern and comfortable home away from home for our students, but a new center for campus life for future generations of Yellow Jackets.” WVSU is not the only university to honor Brother Keith. In his hometown of Detroit, Wayne State University recently dedicated and opened the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights housed in Wayne State’s law school. Wayne State also recently published a biography of Judge Keith, Crusader for Justice: Federal Judge Damon J. Keith in 2013. S

Brother Damon Keith (seated) is celebrated by General President Mark S. Tillman and other brothers.





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ALPHA BROTHER PLAYS KEY ROLE IN OPENING UP CUBA More Americans may soon be traveling to Cuba now that the U.S. government is reestablishing diplomatic relations with its U.S. neighbor to the south. At the center of this historical sea-change of policy, is a young Alpha brother who has made foreign service his career. Brother Justin Davis [Mu Lambda, ‘08], a U.S. diplomat in Havana, Cuba, provided timely analysis and work that helped the U.S. government improve relations with one of the country’s most contentious neighbors and further integrate America’s foreign policy agenda in the Western Hemisphere.

Brother Justin Davis in Havana

Davis serves as a political officer in the Interests Section. Interests Sections are similar to embassies, except there is no ambassador and no formal diplomatic ties to the country. This may soon change. In December, President Barack Obama announced a complete overhaul of U.S. policy toward Cuba after more than 50 years. The change in policy was prompted by the negotiated release of an American imprisoned in Cuba for nearly five years.

Brother Davis’ work focuses on political reporting and analysis, coordinating with interest groups in Miami and on Capitol Hill, and support of key Cuban civil society leaders to help promote democratic principles. He was instrumental in the government’s rapprochement with Cuba, and is now charged with helping to support the reestablishment of official diplomatic relations, an historical act given past relations with Cuba. Prior to this assignment, Davis was political officer in the U.S. embassy in New Delhi, India, at which he provided the State Department with important analysis of India’s external relations. Prior to that, he served in Monterrey, Mexico working in consular affairs and on key immigration policy. Brother Davis holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and a Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. S





Supreme decisions have supreme consequences


he U.S. Supreme Court is midway through its 2014-2015 term. Since the first Monday in October, the justices have taken on a plethora of key cases that will impact every American— from same-sex marriage to freedom of speech issues and more. During the 2013-2014 term, the justices handed down several decisions specifically affecting the communities in which the men of Alpha Phi Alpha serve. Here is a summary of four key opinions on free speech, racial equality and discrimination, religious freedom, and search and seizure. 46

Lane v. Franks Ruling: Employee speech in testimony protected by First Amendment. On June 19, the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment protects a public employee who testifies truthfully against a state official, under subpoena, at a public corruption trial. In the case, the president of Central Alabama Community College (CACC), Steve Franks, fired the school’s director of community intensive training for youth, Edward Lane. Lane was dismissed after he testified in a public corruption case THE SPHINX


involving the college. His testimony helped indict an elected official on fraud charges for receiving $177,000 in wages for completing little to no work. After he was fired, Lane sued claiming his right to free speech was violated by the college president for his retaliating against Lane for providing truthful testimony. The court unanimously held that an employee’s truthful testimony at a trial is protected by the First Amendment Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) Ruling: Michigan voter initiative that banned taking account of race in admissions to the state’s public universities is constitutional. On April 22, the high court upheld a Michigan constitutional amendment that, on its face, seemed to protect individuals from state-sponsored discrimination, but actually aimed to eliminate race and gender as a preference altogether in public education, public employment, and public contracting. In 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, ruled (along party lines) by an 8-to-7 vote that the initiative violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. The majority articulated that the problem with the Michigan amendment was that it restructured the state’s political process by making it more difficult for disfavored minorities to press for change. In overturning the Appeals Court, the justices by a 6-to2 vote, ruled that they had no authority to undermine the democratic process through which the residents of Michigan passed the amendment, and therefore the amendment was constitutional. The decision marked a significant blow to Affirmative Action efforts in Michigan and poses an impending threat on the future of Affirmative Action nationwide. The ruling creates serious barriers to promoting racial diversity in the classroom and public workplaces and is likely to subject racial minorities to further marginalization and educational inequality. Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. Ruling: Corporations controlled by religious families cannot be required to pay for contraception coverage for their female workers. On June 30, the Supreme Court dealt a blow to SPRING/SUMMER 2015

President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare. Justices decided that closely held businesses are entitled to an exemption under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, from the requirement that employer health plans include no-cost coverage for contraceptive care. The for-profit corporation, Hobby Lobby, sued the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, challenging the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers provide employees with a healthcare plan that covers certain types of preventative care such as contraception. Hobby Lobby, which conducts business in accordance to the Christian faith, claimed that, in biblical context, contraception is immoral. In a 5-to-4 decision, the high court held that because the contraception requirement forces corporations to choose between following their religious principles and facing significant fines, it creates a substantial burden that is not the least restrictive method of satisfying the government’s interests. Riley v. California Ruling: Police need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest. In a rare unanimous decision, the Supreme Court restricted police search powers when it comes to mobile phones. On June 25, the court decided police may not conduct a warrantless search through a cellphone seized from a suspect during an arrest. The case rose out of a traffic stop when a California police officer arrested David Riley and seized a cellphone from his pants pocket. The officer accessed information on the phone, and saw what appeared to be information that tied Riley to a recent shooting. The trial court denied Riley’s motion to suppress the cellphone evidence and he was convicted of multiple charges, and the California appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court held unanimously that the warrantless search of Riley’s phone violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches. S

James A. Gilmore [Delta Rho ’07] is a public policy analyst at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, D.C. 47






Part of the The Fraternal Bond Series This series addresses the concept of brotherhood and symbolizes the remarkable power that accompanies fraternal interconnectivity. To show this, the artist chose to design intricate portraits of black men, completing them with a root and vine motif (left). The power of these portraits resides in the complex dyad of its simple, beautiful design and the rich message that it wishes to share. In The Phi the power of this bond is revealed in the stylized spinal column of the subject—a man whose backbone and belief systems have been strengthened by brotherhood. The Phi is part of a fundraiser to support the educational and community service efforts of the Lee B. Revels Scholarship & Mentoring Foundation, Theta Iota Lambda Chapter’s non-profit corporation. S

About the Artist Imo Nse Imeh [Theta Iota Lambda] is a visual artist and scholar of African Diaspora aesthetics. His large-scale drawings have been exhibited widely, including the acclaimed Rush Arts Gallery in New York City. Imeh’s work was recently featured in the book set Eight New-Generation African Poets. Imeh, a graduate of Columbia University and Yale University, is an assistant professor of art and art history at Westfield State University. Twitter: @imoimeh




THE MYTH OF BLACK ANTIINTELLECTUALISM: A TRUE PSYCHOLOGY OF AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDENTS African-American students have been unduly studied, misunderstood and maligned for decades. The racial gap between white and African-American students does exist: a difference of roughly 20 percent in college graduation rates has persisted for more than the past two decades; and since 1988, the racial gap on the reading and mathematics sections of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) has increased from 189 points to 201 points. What are the true sources of these differences? In this book, psychology professor and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Black Psychology Kevin Cokley [Xi Eta ‘89], PhD, delves into and challenges the dominant narrative regarding black student achievement by examining the themes of black identity, the role of self-esteem, the hurdles that result in academic difficulties, and the root sources of academic motivation. He proposes a bold alternate narrative that uses black identity as the theoretical framework to examine factors in academic achievement and challenge the widely accepted notion of black anti-intellectualism. This book will be valuable to all educators, especially those at the high school through undergraduate college/university level, as well as counselors associated with academic and community institutions, social service providers, policy makers, clergy, and lay staff within the faith-based community, and parents. S

THE WORK: MY SEARCH FOR A LIFE THAT MATTERS The Work is the story of how one young man traced a path through the world to find his life’s purpose. Wes Moore graduated from a difficult childhood in the Bronx and Baltimore to an adult life that would find him at some of the most critical moments in our recent history: as a combat officer in Afghanistan; a White House fellow in a time of wars abroad and disasters at home; and a Wall Street banker during the financial crisis. In this insightful book, Moore shares the lessons he learned from people he met along the way—from the brave Afghan translator who taught him to find his fight, to the resilient young students in Katrina-ravaged Mississippi who showed him the true meaning of grit, to his late grandfather, who taught him to find grace in service. Moore also tells the stories of other twenty-first-century change-makers who’ve inspired him in his search, from Daniel Lubetzky, the founder of KIND, to Esther Benjamin, a Sri Lankan immigrant who rose to help lead the Peace Corps. What their lives—and his own misadventures and moments of illumination—reveal is that our truest work happens when we serve others, at the intersection between our gifts and our broken world. That’s where we find the work that lasts. An intimate narrative about finding meaning in a volatile age, The Work will inspire readers to see how we can each find our own path to purpose and help create a better world. S

TREASURES IN THE DARKNESS The strongest believer’s faith can be shaken when faced with tragedy or even disappointment. Bishop Larry Brandon [Delta Upsilon Lambda ‘13] faced this himself when his oldest son, Brandon, was killed. Here he shares his own struggle, pain, and eventual victory in Christ. While it appeared to the world that he was doing well, inside his heart and faith were broken. Only someone who has faced the subtle crumbling and 50

nagging doubts can speak with authority to the pain that readers face in such dark times. In L. Lawrence Brandon’s book Treasures in the Darkness, Brandon uses his own story of tragic loss to show readers the importance of understanding the treasure we already possess within ourselves to get us through the darkest hours of our lives. This book does not promise that bad things will not happen in our lives nor does it sugar coat the issues we face. Brandon admonishes readers to remember that during our time of trouble, we cannot pull away from God. The chapters end with a faith check which summarizes the chapter and gives readers an opportunity to journal their thoughts. S THE SPHINX


First Lady Michelle Obama, student Brianna Burns and Brother Reginald Hatter in Washington, D.C.

BROTHER ACCEPTS NATIONAL ARTS AND HUMANITIES YOUTH PROGRAM AWARD On November 10, Brother Reginald Hatter traveled from Houston to Washington D.C., to accept the 2014 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award on behalf of Workshop Houston’s Middle School Program from First Lady Michelle Obama. Workshop Houston was one of 12 after-school programs that received the award during a White House ceremony. More than 350 nominations were received from programs that focus on developing creative skills and promoting academic success. Workshop Houston offers innovative youth development programs through its four shops: the Chopper Shop (welding and metal fabrication), the Beat Shop (music production), the Style Shop (fashion and graphic design), and the Scholar Shop (tutoring and academic enrichment). The program averages about 30 students per day, primarily from Houston’s third ward. Brother Hatter, initiated at Tau Alpha Chapter at Baylor University, joined Workshop Houston in 2007, to help launch the Scholar Shop. After establishing this academic program into the organization, he became co-director in 2010, in charge of all programs. S




Phirst Take on Sports Sports are a topic of discussion for a lot of people. There are fans who only talk about their team or favorite player and there are fans who dive into a lot of different topics. You have to love the lunchroom and barber shop conversations when it comes to sports. Whatever the case, everyone thinks they are the expert. Phirst Contention came about on the same philosophy, having “barber shop” conversations about sports. Four brothers who came through Mu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha decided to begin a show to talk about these topics, and Phirst Contention was born. The reason “Phirst” is in the title is because it is founded by brothers of the first AfricanAmerican fraternity—Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. “Contention” comes out of the idea of competition but giving everyone an even playing field to win. The founding members of this show include Steven Davis, a former University of Minnesota football player; Marvin Banks, a sports brainiac; Ty Sosina, an aspiring sports broadcaster; and former host of his own show, Facebook Daily News, Josh Harris. Each one of these gentlemen brings different perspectives to the show, and they use those angles when talking about topics. Whether getting an athlete’s approach to Mike Brown’s death reaction in the sports world, diving into numbers about Super Bowl odds, or speaking about the legacy of Stuart Scott, these guys all have interesting perspectives. The show encourages viewers to forward topics using the hashtag #WeSports, which is a big tagline for the show and the theme song that was created. Topics are always current and at times take on a cultural approach. What started off as just a Google+ community has now evolved into a studio-produced show in Minneapolis. In Minnesota, the show appears weekly on a local TV channel, as well as being showcased on Youtube and the Internet. Phirst Contention is your source for sports hot topics, “by the people for the people.” Follow them out on Twitter @PhirstCon10tion and see more at S




BROTHER FULLER APPEARS IN ADULT SWIM’S “BLACK JESUS” There goes another working actor in Alpha land! Brother Andra Fuller [‘Tau Alpha ’99], who readers may remember from L.A. Complex, appeared in “Black Jesus” on Adult Swim. Tune in on to Cartoon Networks Adult Swim to support this new project from Aaron McGruder, creator of The Boondocks and Brother Fuller who plays the character Fish. S Twitter: @mrdrefuller

BROTHER TREVON DAVIS TOURS WITH “THE BOOK OF MORMON” Brother Trevon Davis [Alpha Phi ‘04] recently toured with “The Book of Mormon,” a musical from the creators of South Park. In a recent article, Brother Davis discusses his pathway to success from “Flint to Atlanta” to reality television and now to cities across America. S





Defying All Odds: Brother Palmer Keeps Zeal for Xi Lambda


Brother Charles Harper

s time progresses, men typically slow down due to family obligations, health, or a desire to take a step back from the busy schedules they have maintained throughout their lifetime. As the old proverb goes, there is an exception to every rule. In this case, it’s Brother James W. Palmer Sr. [Xi Lambda ‘68] At the seasoned age of 89, Palmer still has the same passion and zeal for continuing the work of Alpha Phi Alpha as he did when he was initiated into the fraternity in 1968. Despite losing his vision, he has never lost sight of the importance of staying active. Palmer grew up in Charleston, S.C. during the early 1920s, getting an early start in implementing social activities for the young people in his church. After completing high school, he was selected for the United States Navy and trained to be a machinist as a result of his stellar grades in math. He was sent to Virginia under the impression that he was going to work in a machine shop but experienced racism in pursuit of securing the position, being told he couldn’t work because he was “colored.” Following this experience, he was shipped to California and then Guam in pursuit of a career but decided he wanted to go to college instead of re-enlisting. He received an honorable discharge and went on to Wilberforce University where Brother Charles H. Wesley [Xi ‘13] was president at the time. Palmer received his degree at Central State, which was founded by Wesley after a dispute with the board at Wilberforce. He credits Wesley and brothers around him with sparking his interest in Alpha Phi Alpha. “I got interested when I was on the campus listening to Dr. Wesley and some of the other guys,” Palmer said. “Most of the instructors were Alphas.” It wasn’t until he came back to Chicago and was invited to an interest meeting when he was able to pursue 54

Brother James W. Palmer Sr. pointing to his name on the Xi Lambda Wall of Honor.

membership. According to Palmer, six men were invited and Brother David L. Daniels was the dean, at the time, who guided them through the process. Once Palmer was initiated into the fraternity, he hit the ground running, earning the position as chapter treasurer because of his solid background in math and position as a revenue officer with the IRS. Palmer’s structure and desire to see brothers active led to Xi Lambda being the largest chapter in the country at one point. A reputation of being no-nonsense during his close to 30-year tenure as treasurer made the brothers respect Palmer and fear him if they ever gave him a bad check. “I would not tolerate any bad checks,” Palmer said. “I THE SPHINX


factor in him continuing to be active. His wife served as an educator for close to 30 years and his two children have managed to make their father proud—his son, also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, as a criminal superior court judge in New Jersey and his daughter, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, as a pediatrician in Chicago.

Despite his reputation for embarrassing the brothers, Palmer has made many friends around the country because of his dedication and passion for the fraternity. Even after losing his eyesight, he’s managed to remain just as active as he was when initiated, only missing one convention in the past 45 years.

Palmer has contributed to all three major fundraising projects to pay off the mortgage for the eXceL Center located at 8236 S. Western Ave. He has a positive outlook for Xi Lambda in the future and has one goal that he would like to see accomplished in the next several years.

“When I finally realized I was losing my sight, there was nothing I could do, so why worry about it,” he said.

“My hope is to see that this building is paid for,” Palmer said about the eXceL Center. “Brother [Arndell] Ricks has a program going and some brothers haven’t contributed anything. They can never say that Brother Palmer didn’t contribute to none of the programs and fundraising for this building.”

Brother Farrad Ali [Xi Lambda ‘11]

would embarrass you. If you give me a bad check and I put it in the bank, then the check I write to the chapter bounces, which meant Xi Lambda Chapter got a bad name. I can only count on one hand the number of bad checks I got over the years because the brothers knew that I would embarrass them.”

Brother Palmer encourages all the brothers to enjoy their affiliation with Alpha Phi Alpha and get on committees to know exactly what Xi Lambda is about. He also offers advice to younger brothers looking to make their stamp on the fraternity. “Try to make all the conferences,” Palmer said. “When you go, introduce yourself to brothers when you go across the country to different states. When I went Brother James W. Palmer Sr. speaking with General President Mark S. Tillman. to a reception or something at a “The brothers were very good. If I called a brother and convention, I would rarely sit at the table with all the wanted to go, they’d come and get me. I already knew Xi Lambda brothers. I’d sit at another chapter’s table how to dress but I went to a school for the blind and and find out what they’re doing but also brag about Xi they taught me a lot of stuff. But it wasn’t any sense in Lambda and tell them what we’re doing.” sitting down and becoming discouraged, so what the hell.” Palmer hopes to leave a legacy that other brothers will be able to follow but is also looking forward to many In addition to the brothers assisting Palmer whenever more years of conventions and bonding with brothers he needs it, he also credits his family with being a major across the country. S SPRING/SUMMER 2015




To Degree or Not To Degree?


here has been much discussion and public debate surrounding the value of a college degree in America and the question that has been asked repeatedly is whether or not it is worth it to pursue a college degree? Much of the debate against earning a college degree stems from anecdotal evidence and many of the proponents for earning a degree speak more from the pride of degrees earned. This conundrum has muddied the waters for many who seek to earn a college degree. One of the central arguments against the need to earn a degree is that many students who earn them end up working out of their field, graduate without a job or end up saddled with huge amounts of student loan debt that take a lifetime to pay off. So the question that still remains is whether a person should choose “to degree or not to degree?” That is the question.

College Access & Success, about 71 percent of students graduate from college with an average of $29,400 in student loan debt. Most of the loans taken out to attend college come from federal loan programs, but a significant portion of that debt (20 percent) comes from private lenders. Private loans are typically more costly to students and provide fewer consumer protections. While student debt is increasing, it should also be noted that the cost of tuition is too.

Value of a College Degree Statistically speaking, a person with a college degree earns significantly more over a lifetime than a person without a one. According to the College Board, individuals with higher levels of education earn more and are more likely than others to be employed. According to research by College Board analysts Sandy Baum, Jennifer Ma and Kathleen Payea, the median earnings of bachelor’s degree recipients with no advanced degree, working full-time in 2011, was $21,000 more than the median earnings of high school graduates. The financial returns from earning a college degree has increased over time due to the shrinking number of well-paying jobs that can be accessed without a degree. The College Board also cites that there are also other individual and societal benefits that come from earning a degree including more security, better health, closer family and stronger communities. While this data does show that, on average, a person is better off with a college degree, it does not mean that every person who earns a college degree will be better off than a person who has not earned one. There are many examples of individuals who have college degrees but are not working, do not earn very high wages, or have not been successful in their careers. Further, there are many people who have been successful without a college degree.

Student Debt Another argument of late against pursuing a college degree is the large amount of student loan debt that is incurred by students. According to The Institute for 56

As states continue to divest in education and the price wars continue to escalate between elite institutions, the cost to gain a college degree is rising. Many low-income, first generation and minority students have already been priced out of attending four-year institutions in the United States. The maximum Pell Grant paid 50 percent of charges to attend a public four-year college or university in 1986 compared to about 30 percent today. Coupled with the dismantling of the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) and Federal Perkins Loan programs, students have fewer options to subsidize their education today. THE SPHINX


Those students who still aspire to obtain a college degree are being unfairly saddled with debt to attend college and earn their degree. However, these students are now being blamed for taking out the very loans they need in order to gain access to higher education. Now, we should be clear about what students we are actually talking about. Most students that come from wealthy and upper income backgrounds can afford to pay for their education. The students that we talk about in the student loan debate are those that are from middle to low income, first generation, and minority backgrounds. Many people who are considering furthering their education ask themselves, is it worth it to spend money that may not be recouped on these students? My answer to this questions is yes, but the answer by many is no. It’s funny that those who make the arcane argument that some students should not amass debt for the opportunity to obtain an education and argue against the value of a college degree, are those that have been educated themselves and continue to send their sons and daughters to the Harvards, Yales and Princetons of the collegiate world. The way to solve the student loan debate is to make more money available to assist low-income and first-generation students, so they can afford the actual costs to attend college. We need a greater commitment from the federal government and states to ensure all students, especially those from under-served backgrounds, have the resources needed to attend college if they so desire.

Full Circle Now that we have all the information, the question still remains: “to degree or not to degree?” While the statistics continue to say that a degree has value, the question of whether or not a person should obtain a degree should be judged very differently. Degrees do not equal destination and they are not a guarantee for success. I usually approach the question of obtaining a degree very differently. I think this decision should be made with the outcome in mind already. Thus, I ask “Why do you want to obtain a college degree and how will you use it?” This question can help one answer the question of whether or not you need a degree to reach your personal goals and succeed. In some cases, it is absolutely necessary. You cannot become a pharmacist, lawyer, engineer, doctor, physical therapist or teacher in America without earning a college degree. The requirements to enter these professions are restrictive and regulated in many states. Even jobs that 20 years ago did not require a college degree SPRING/SUMMER 2015

now have entry-level standards for degrees. Many companies use a degree as a “weed-out” function in their hiring process, to reduce the number of applicants to review and interview. Therefore, many of the professions that young people long for are not possible without a college degree. There are also other areas of employment that require some type of post-secondary credentialing. Mechanics, nurse practitioners, barbers, and electricians each have to obtain some form of post-secondary training in order to legally practice their profession. Most professional sports organizations also require that participants go to college first before being allowed to go pro (though graduating is not a requirement). All this said, there are many other careers in which people succeed without a college degree. This includes entrepreneurship, retail and service, modeling, music, and a host of other fields. While many students graduate from high school with a certainty about what they would like to do in the future, many do not. College can also provide an opportunity to grow and learn, while being empowered to find the future a person seeks. To be fair, the workforce and life itself offers the same opportunity, albeit from a different vantage point. While these points are salient, there is still one problem that we have not yet addressed with the question of “to degree or not to degree?”: neither path guarantees success. The expectation of those who earn degrees today is that it will lead to a successful job and career. But, as noted earlier, degrees (or the lack of a degree) do not equal destination or success. Instead, there are common traits that successful people tend to display (those with degrees and those without degrees). Success does not happen for those who simply earn a degree or those who do not. Instead success requires four important things: passion, purpose, possibility and people. Without the passion to be successful; a purpose to guide you; a vision for the possibilities that are available to you in the future; and a network of people to support you; success is simply not possible. S

John Michael Lee Jr. [Eta Lambda, ’03] earned a Doctor of Philosophy Degree at New York University. He is the director of education for Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity’s Eastern Region. 57





ike Morath [Nu Beta ‘96] has a lot of enemies. That would seem odd, given that he’s a twice-elected Dallas Independent School District (DISD) trustee who has never run opposed, he’s super-smart, and he’s passionate— obsessive, really—about helping poor kids learn. But for several reasons, chief among them that Morath was the seed crystal for the controversial home-rule initiative, he has many detractors, including some on the school board who share his education philosophies. They see

accountability measures, longer school years and days—won’t come to fruition anytime soon. Home rule won’t make the November ballot. So Morath is isolated and ineffectual? Not at all. He’s still one of the two or three most influential backroom operators in education reform in Dallas. He remains in regular contact with legislators, big-money groups, and education think tanks all over Texas, championing his plan to fix DISD. Largely because of his efforts, the conversation in the city has moved from “Should we reform DISD?” to “How should we implement reforms?” That’s why, despite Morath’s many enemies (the teachers’ unions hate him, too), those in favor of education reform in Dallas stand behind him and the other board members. The support is important. Morath has just begun the most crucial school year of his tenure, with board support needed for a revolutionary teacher merit pay system and sweeping earlyeducation initiatives. Although he is wearied by those who’ve cast him as a tool of the moneyed class trying to take over school systems, Morath says he will keep up the fight for two reasons. One is obvious: 157,000 kids in DISD deserve better. The other, less so: he’s on a mission from God. •••

him as an arrogant wonk who won’t listen to others. Morath says that a year ago, he wouldn’t have agreed to an interview for this story, because he wouldn’t have wanted to invite scorn from the other trustees. Now things are different. “They’re all mad at me for home rule,” he says, “so I guess it doesn’t matter.” Heck, trustee Bernadette Nutall refused to sit next to him at the board’s horseshoe. (A badge of honor for Morath, really.) And for all intents and purposes, home rule is dead, at least in the way Morath originally envisioned it. The home-rule commission still has a year to deliberate and recommend action, but Morath’s vision—a new charter recommending board 58

“Ahhhh, hell yeah,” Morath says, pointing toward speakers above us. “Any coffeehouse that rocks WuTang is okay by me.” It’s not fair to say that Morath, like Steve Martin’s character Navin Johnson, was born a poor black child, but it’s not that far off. Morath spent half of his first 10 years in a western Virginia coal-mining town. His parents did not believe that his Appalachian education would afford their boy a chance at a good life, and a lucky job transfer took them to North Texas. Before they moved, though, his mother called the Texas Education Agency to ask which was the best public school system in the state. The first 10 times, she was told that they THE SPHINX


were all great, and she didn’t believe it. Finally, she pestered Texas Education Agency employees until someone in the agency was honest with her. Because of the district’s total choice and emerging baccalaureate program, Morath’s mom was told Garland was best. “Garland has the longest experiment in school choice in the country,” Morath says. “It’s what they’re doing in New Orleans now. They took the lowest-performance schools and put a magnet program in each. Those schools were extremely diverse, with tremendous educational opportunities. I got an outstanding education in integrated classrooms, and it shaped my opinion on public schooling.” In high school, Morath didn’t play football, but he sat with the coaches every Saturday morning because he’d written a software package that analyzed offensive tendencies. (He wrote his first computer program at age 6.) The day after games, he would give the head coach and offensive coordinator printouts so they could study the team’s play-calling tendencies. “Needless to say,” he says, “Super Nerd was very popular with the cheerleaders.” In college (George Washington, graduated in two and a half years), Morath’s integration continued. His black roommate convinced him to join Alpha Phi Alpha, a predominantly black fraternity. He worked as communications director for the black student union and its newsletter. His musical tastes already were in line. “I’m a white boy from the suburbs who grew up in the ’90s,” Morath says. “I know my Wu-Tang Clan.” After graduation, he put his software skills to work. He started a dot-com in Garland that was a “catastrophic failure,” he says. “Flawed business model, undercapitalized, bad management.” His next business was more successful. He started a company that developed a management information system that streamlined a federal food program for low-income families in child care. He sold the company for a tidy sum and, at age 36, became semi-retired. His next goal: searching for his special purpose. An evangelical Christian, Morath believed God would lead the way to this discovery. He found his calling in a series of charitable acts. First, he became a Big Brother to two Littles in DISD (which showed him the urban education struggle from the kids’ perspective), and then he participated in a leadership program that paired him with the principal SPRING/SUMMER 2015

from Thomas Jefferson High School (which showed him the challenges from inside the system). “I just said, ‘That’s it,’ ” Morath says. “I’ve got to do what I can to improve outcomes for kids. Not just so they can read and write and do math, but so they’re prepared for lives with purpose. So they can have the same kind of success in America I’ve had.” Morath over-prepared, of course. He attended board meetings and briefings and watched dozens more online. He studied education policy incessantly. He talked to teachers, parents, and principals. His takeaway? At every level, the biggest issue is trust. “We’re one of the most segregated cities in the country, and we have one of the most segregated school systems,” he says. “That was policy. That was intentional. Dallas is moving away from that, correcting errors of its past, but we’re a long way from having that issue corrected. The only way to build up trust is a continuous commitment to doing so. That means going where you’re not wanted and having conversations with people who don’t agree with you. And doing that repeatedly. So that takes a relentless amount of work. I don’t know that I have done that effectively enough.” Morath rattles off his weaknesses, the ones that give his enemies ammo. He is an entrepreneur executive at heart, which means he wants to fix problems, not have round-table discussions about them. He is impatient. He doesn’t like having to persuade 1,000 people which path is best when it’s so obvious to him. His poker face is poor at best. He often looks like he’s sucking on lemons during board meetings. “I have to be better about having the patience to bring people along,” he says, “and they have to trust I’m adapting my insights to their plans.” That’s the thing that gets him: when critics say he doesn’t listen to anyone else. “That’s a load of crap,” he says. “I’m extremely interested in all opinions. I seek out countervailing information. It’s the only way you can make a good decision. And the proof is there. We’ve moved mountains in the past two to three years. Now, there are many bigger mountains left to move. But the board as a whole has been pretty effective at making some sort of policy changes that benefit kids. I like to think I’ve had an important role.” Even his many enemies would have to admit that. S 59



Brother James E. Ford [Mu Alpha Lambda ‘06] has been named the Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year; the first African-American male to win the award in more than 40 years. Ford teaches at Garinger High School in Charlotte, N.C., and was selected out of 95,000 teachers throughout the state to receive this prestigious honor. He is a ninth-grade world history teacher who began his career in Rockford Public Schools in his native Rockford, Ill. He has been a teacher in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools since 2010. In 2003, Ford earned a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication Degree at Illinois State University and a master’s degree in teaching from Rockford University in 2009. In addition to teaching world history, Ford is co-chair of the school’s peer mentorship program He is involved on a districtlevel serving on the Superintendent’s Advisory Council, the World History Curriculum Writing Team, and the Teaching and Learning Framework Committee.

Brother Ford receives his teacher-of-the-year honor from June Atkinson, superintendent of public schools of North Carolina.

Brother Ford is up for the National Teacher of the Year Award and will represent North Carolina among the other state teachers of the year who will meet with President Obama at the White House. Ford is an active member of Beta Nu Lambda Chapter. S

Brother James E. Ford has a laugh with his students in his North Carolina classroom.






Brother Derrick L. Wilkins [Epsilon Chi Lambda ‘09], president of Epsilon Chi Lambda Chapter in Elizabeth City, NC, received his doctoral degree from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. in December 2014. Wilkins was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Education with a concentration in Instructional Design & Technology. S

When it was looking for its next leader, the Philander Smith College Board of Trustees turned to another Alpha man: Roderick L. Smothers Sr. (Nu Psi ‘93). Brother Smothers resigned his fundraising job as vice president of advancement at HustonTillotson University (HTU) in Austin, Texas, and began serving as Philander’s 14th president Jan. 1, in Little Rock, Ark. “Over the last few months, Philander Smith College has had a mantra of ‘Moving Forward.’ Dr. Roderick Smothers is the right choice to continue the institution’s forward movement, to build upon its rich heritage and to sustain its esteemed legacy,” said Artee Williams, chairman of the college’s Board of Trustees. Smothers holds a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University (LSU). In addition, he earned a master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree at LSU in Baton Rouge, La. Before his work at HTU, Smothers was an LSU administrator before joining the faculty at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Then, at 31, he became one of the youngest university vice presidents in the U.S. history, when Langston University in Langston, Okla., appointed him vice president of institutional advancement and development. Under his leadership, Langston raised more than $25 million. Brother Smothers is a former Alpha Southwestern Region assistant vice president and the immediate past regional vice president. In 2011, he led the primary field and was nominated by the fraternity’s General Convention, and placed on the ballot for 34th general president. S




Don’t Stress Over Stress: Challenges to Your Physical and Mental Health Post-Graduation Graduation is a special time in our lives. It fully marks the transition into adulthood. You’ll have job responsibilities and decisions about where to live. You’ll also have to make decisions about the nature and types of relationships in your life. Although this will be a very exciting time, for many it’s extremely stressful. This Straight, No Chaser segment addresses stress management. The beginning of your professional life very likely will see the introduction of habits that will last a lifetime and affect your physical and mental health. Let’s review tools and circumstances about which you should be aware as a means of performing well and staying fulfilled. You should be mindful of the role of stress in your life. Stress is primarily meant to enhance your performance, whether you’re in a situation requiring fight, flight, or routine activities. This speaks to the importance of learning to corral stress and using it to work for instead of against you. It is well established that optimal levels of stress work in your favor. Seek to operate at the level representing creative tension. Of course, many of us inappropriately interpret and respond to stressful stimuli. The resultant anxiety is crippling and adversely impacts performance. Physiologically, excessive amounts of stress lead to such dysfunction that blood pressure is raised along with the risk of stroke, heart attacks, and many other diseases. Let’s focus on 5 factors that play into the development of physical and emotional stress: attitude, diet, physical activity, relaxation habits, and support systems. These are the basis for the stress management program you should have in place for optimal physical and mental health. They also work against you if they’re not healthily managed. 62

Attitude: Your perspective and attitude make you interpret the same situation or trigger either negatively, positively, or indifferently. A negative attitude produces more stress. Diet: One’s poor eating habits place the body in a state of physiologic stress and weaken the immune system, resulting in a higher likelihood of contracting a variety of diseases. Poor nutrition eventually will affect the brain and result in suboptimal brain function, producing additional stress. Physical activity: Insufficient physical activity will eventually put the body in a stressed state due to diminished blood flow to your organs. Just as a feeling of well-being will reduce stress, being ill and/or out of shape will increase stress. Relaxation: Allowing your body to rest and recharge has powerful positive ramifications for both physical and emotional health. Take time to sleep as well as enjoy life. You can’t be simultaneously relaxed and stressed! Support systems: The presence or absence of individuals and groups to help you through potentially stressful situations can diffuse or magnify a situation and its associated stress.

Now let’s revisit those factors in a way that gives you tools to perform at your best. Physical activity creates good blood flow, healthy muscles, and other healthy tissues. Don’t just sit there. Commit to do something. Develop a routine. • Strive for 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity. • You’ll perform best with a personal trainer, but you don’t need to join a gym. If you don’t have a trainer, get a workout partner or join a group. Use peer pressure in a positive way! • If you engage in brisk walking for 20 minutes each day, you’re getting the minimum recommended level of daily activity. THE SPHINX


Nutrition is the fuel for your body’s normal functioning. It keeps your brain and body sharp, your immune system powerful, and you less susceptible to physical and emotional stress. • Increase the amounts and varieties of fruits and vegetables you eat. • Increase the frequency of fish in your diet, and avoid all fried foods. • Stop eating when your body tells you you’re full. Don’t worry about finishing your plate. • Avoid super-sized anything unless you’re splitting the servings. Social support—an effective support network—can serve to dissipate your stress. Stress without an outlet is a force multiplier. • Wear a smile as your shield from stress. It invites positivity and positive people. Bringing good new friends into your life is exciting. Make an effort to socialize and enjoy the benefits of friendship, family, and strong networks. • You are your own best support. If you hardwire positivity into your personality, you’ll find yourself less stressed. Take care of yourself, and be good to yourself and those around you. Relaxation is for many people a distant memory that you should take the time to incorporate into your routine. • If you don’t have time to relax, make time. If you can’t make time, take time. Enjoy your family, hobbies, and life! • You must learn to mentally connect with your body’s cues. If you’re tired, rest. If you’re in pain, don’t push it. These early signs of physical stress are meant to be warnings. Take heed. • Relaxation techniques work! Consider meditation, yoga, or resting your eyes. Appreciate the healing power of music and the arts. The deeper you SPRING/SUMMER 2015

get into these effects, the better they become at relaxing you. Sleep is your body’s way to reset and replenish. Good sleep habits are an important way to alleviate your stress.

Professional Support We prolong our misery by not taking advantage of available resources. If your current stress management strategies are unsuccessful, and you’re still addressing more than you can handle, there are many talented and caring professionals ready to help. Licensed counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists can teach you additional stress management strategies. Nutritionists and personal trainers can fine-tune factors that may otherwise contribute to physical stress. Make the transition to adulthood armed for success, not stress. All the best! S

Jeffrey Sterling [Alpha Mu ‘82] is president of Sterling Initiatives and He is the author of Behind the Curtain: A Peek at Life Through the ER. He can be reached at www., on twitter @asksterlingmd, and on Facebook at



The Happy Entrepreneur WORK. LIFE. BALANCE.


ntrepreneurs run the risk of being workaholics. They are in sales mode 24/7 often to the detriment of their families. There’s just no time for relationships, no family time, and not much of anything else. In the movie “Glen Gary, Glen Ross,” Alec Baldwin famously tells Ed Harris’s character, “Good father? F* you. Go home and play with your kids.” It’s a harsh reality that to be a good salesman you have to focus 100 percent of your energy into your work. When you are off on your own as an entrepreneur, you are a salesman 100 percent of the time. So how do you find that balance?

full time for the last six. First, let me say that entrepreneurship is not for everyone. It is a very scary realm to enter and it’s not for the faint of heart. If you have a full-time job and are moonlighting or freelancing on the side, you are basically riding a bike with training wheels on. You haven’t left the security of direct deposit just yet. You might even get a severance package the day it’s time for you to leave. But for full-time entrepreneurs, keeping your game face on 24/7 can be a challenge. Your family, specifically your significant other, really doesn’t care for the details. As long as the

The key to happiness for an entrepreneur that is also a family man or husband is balance. Balance is that elusive state of being for which we always should be striving.. For the entrepreneur, defined most often as a person who organizes or operates a business, striking a balance between their business and their family is a great challenge because we can become obsessed with our work and never really stop thinking about it long enough to appreciate our loved ones and our surroundings.

Jim Rohn once said, “How sad to see a father with money and no joy. The man studied economics, but never studied happiness.”

This article is not for the traditional 9 to 5 employee. Although there are many pitfalls to the normal 9 to 5, most obviously the myth of the steady paycheck, I’m going to speak predominantly about my own experience as a business owner, not as an employee. Although I’d be the first one to admit that it’s very easy to completely neglect your family and arrive early/work late at almost any job, we’re going to keep this article relevant to those dreamers, those risk takers who are looking to build something of their own. It is a much scarier prospect for entrepreneurs to strike balance because while they are sitting on their couches sharing a bowl of popcorn with their loved ones, their minds are more often than not racing with ideas of how to create the next big idea, how to monetize an existing concept, or in worse cases, drowning in the fear of meeting payroll, finding that next client, or collecting on those dreaded accounts receivables. I’ve been on both sides of the equation. I was an employee for 15 years and have been self-employed 64

bills are paid, they are OK trusting that you are out there taking care of business. Coming home from the office (or upstairs from the office, for those of you who work from home) needs to mean that you switch gears. Although you might want to think about work 24/7, it doesn’t mean you should. Additionally, taking the financial risks of venturing out on your own should have the rewards to go along with it, right? Actually, if you do it right, it really does pay off. Here are 7 ways you can work toward striking a balance between running your business and spending quality time with family. Balance is required for a true sense of fulfillment and happiness.

1. Put Your Phone Away I’m guilty of this one, big time. Nowadays we feel like we live and die by the phone. It’s our computer, our social network, how we check the weather, navigate our cars, make restaurant reservations, and watch videos. Even though I try to justify it to my wife that I need to constantly check my phone, the truth is THE SPHINX


that out of respect for your family, you should put it away when you have set aside time to be with them. Nothing is worse than being out to dinner or at your kid’s sporting event, and you just missed his basket because you were looking at your phone. There’s not a more surefire way of ruining a romantic dinner than by staring at your phone while your significant other is trying to make eye contact. If you’ve set aside time to be with your family, make sure that time is 100 percent dedicated to them. Don’t sell them short. Using the excuse that you’re an entrepreneur is not going to cut it.

2. Schedule Family Time It sounds funny, but you need to treat everything in your life the same way you treat your business. If you schedule a meeting with a client, either you or your assistant puts it on the calendar. In the same manner, you need to put your family on the calendar and treat them with the same level of accountability as you would a client meeting or a tee time. This is where the selfishness can really shine. If you have no problem leaving the office early for a tee time but can’t seem to leave early enough to make the parent/ teacher conference or science fair, then your problem is staring at you in the mirror. Just like a wolf pack, family members like to know where they stand in the pecking order. They are looking to you as the alpha male to see where they stand, and you show them by where you put your priorities. You wouldn’t miss that lunch meeting with the potential new client, so why are you always rescheduling with your wife? Why do you constantly miss your daughter’s dance recitals. Schedule each life event on your calendar as a meeting. Give the family equal importance as you do your business dealings and you will see a big change in your home life.

3. Transparency Being an entrepreneur means you’re on call 24/7. You never know who is going to call or email you with that next big opportunity. Share those moments with your family. Nothing breeds mistrust like curiosity—if you are with family but are anticipating an important email coming through, just let everyone know. Share SPRING/SUMMER 2015

If you have no problem leaving the office early for a tee time but can’t seem to leave early enough to make the parent/teacher conference or science fair, then your problem is staring at you in the mirror. your excitement with the ones you love when that big email comes through. If you get a big check in the mail, share that, too. Show the family that positive things are happening. Show them that the long hours you are putting in are really beginning to pay off.

4. Exercise One of the first things that gets neglected when you’re constantly on the go is your own physical health. Long days/nights—and there goes the diet and exercise routine out the window. Exercise is also a great way to feel better about yourself, organize your thoughts, and release those depression-fighting endorphins. I try to coordinate my workouts with my wife’s workouts, especially on the weekends. You have to exercise anyway, or at least you should be, so find those activities that you can do together. Ride bikes, get on the elliptical, or just take a walk together. Again— remember to put away your phone!

5. Create Routines that Include the Family When you’re an entrepreneur, it’s easy to fill up each night of the week with meetings. I’ve joined many charitable and business organizations in my town in an effort to expand my circles and network. Usually, these organizations end up meeting for dinner during the week. Add the fraternity meetings to the mix and guess what? Daddy is never home. This is why you need to keep some days as sacred. Need to meet with a client? Try meeting for lunch instead of dinner 65


Don’t be that guy: the workaholic. and keep those nights open when possible. Whether every Friday night is date night or every Wednesday is movie night, you have to lock in some time that is dedicated to the family. One positive routine that is becoming more popular as I get older is reading in bed. Yes, I do feel like Mr. and Mrs. Roper from the 70s television show Three’s Company sometimes, but it’s a great way to decompress and again spend some time with family. While I’m in bed, I’m reading books on entrepreneurship or business, and sometimes it’s something totally off topic like golf or car magazines. The point is you are spending time together and you are present. Being present is huge. How often can you be literally right next to someone, yet feel miles apart? Be in the moment. One big reason you became an entrepreneur in the first place was so that you can make your own schedule and make your own 66

decisions. Make a decision to put your family high up on the priority list. There’s no point in going off on your own to build your own thing if you become so obsessed with it that there is no room for anyone else. One of the many rewards of going into business for yourself is that you can decide when you are working and when you are not. Limit distractions so that the time spent with the family is theirs and theirs alone. They’ll love you for it.

6. Meditation and Prayer Every entrepreneur knows that the power of positive thinking is not to be taken lightly. When you are always on call and wearing many hats, including being the lead salesperson, stress, and worry can be your worst enemies. Your family doesn’t deserve to spend any time with a depressed, angry, bitter, short-fused, panicked THE SPHINX


maniac, nor will they want to. One way to assure that your family experiences the best version of you is to spend some “me” time each morning and each night reflecting on just how good things really are. It’s very easy to focus on accounts payable and not on accounts receivable. Don’t focus on the negative as it will suck the life out of your days and make you miserable. It will be impossible to prevent all the negative energy you are carrying around from permeating the rest of your day. Instead, focus on the positive, do the best you can each day, run an honest business, keep your word in all your business dealings (that includes paying off all of your financial obligations to vendors, subcontractors, and suppliers), and you will find a greater sense of peace. There’s nothing worse than lying in bed at night and your heart is still racing from the day’s worries. Leave those behind, turn them over to your higher power, the universe, or whatever else you believe is out there. As an entrepreneur, you have the character flaw of being a control freak, and worrying about something never changed any outcome. It is a terrible waste of energy and the moment you feel the anxiety come on, it’s time to stop and pray. Serenity now.

7. Working Vacations VS. Vacations Working Don’t be that guy: the workaholic. This is a trap many entrepreneurs find themselves in. They make tons of money but have grown distant from their families. What good is taking the family away to a tropical paradise if Daddy is always on his laptop or on his phone? I admit, I always travel with my laptop. When I head out on vacation, I have to trust that my employees back home are going to hold down the fort. I try very hard not to micromanage. That doesn’t mean that I don’t remain somewhat accessible to my team back home and to my clients. What it does mean, though, is that my family knows that I might be up late during the night working, and that I might schedule a call or two while I’m with them. You do need down time to re-energize and you do need quality SPRING/SUMMER 2015

time with your family—especially on vacation. If you are traveling and find yourself having to get some work done, be sure to do it while it doesn’t interfere with the family activities. Make sure they know that when you’re on vacation they come first, even if it means you have to lose a few hours sleep by working until 2 a.m. It’s a small price to pay for a happy family during the day that gets to spend time with Dad on their excursions. Is life as an entrepreneur often glamourized on Instagram on social media? Yes, absolutely. Is it for everyone? Absolutely not. It requires a certain discipline, and just like that elusive 300-yard drive right down the middle, it is something that we are all always chasing to experience. Each day will be different as you pursue your passion and build your dream. Entrepreneurship is about building a legacy, something that you can share with your family. Just don’t forget to share the journey with them along the way. They will appreciate you for it, which in turn will allow those creative juices to flow even better. True success can be found in a work/life balance. Keep going, because as they say, it’s progress, not perfection. S

Ramon Peralta [Mu Phi, ’89] has over 20+ years of experience in award-winning, market-proven print collateral, marketing material, iphone/ipad app and website design, specializing in corporate identity and branding. Ramon’s logo and identity work was selected to be published in “Typography and Enclosures,” the fourth book in the Master Library series by LogoLounge. Need help with your brand identity or want to overhaul your existing brand? Contact: or follow Ramon on Twitter @Peralta_Design and on Instagram @ peraltadesign 67


WORKING TOWARD SUSTAINABLE ENERGY BROTHER RECOGNIZED AS MOST PROMISING SCIENTIST IN INDUSTRY Brother Jonathan D. Madison [Theta Zeta Lambda ’04] was selected as the 2015 Black Engineer of the Year Awards’ Most Promising Scientist in Industry. The award will be presented to Madison at the Emerald Honors and Trailblazers Dinner at the 29th Annual BEYA STEM Conference held in Washington, D.C., in February. The national accolade is one of a select number of awards provided under the Minority in Research Science (MiRS) Emerald Honors and is awarded by the Career Communications Group. Madison was selected based on his outstanding technical contributions to his field as well as his personal engagement and impact within his community. S


Brother Kenneth L. Mickens, Esq. [Theta Zeta ‘73] of Zeta Theta Lambda Chapter in Harrisburg, Pa., has been elected Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF), a private nonprofit corporation based in Allentown, Pa. The SEF promotes energy efficiency, renewable energy and energy conservation. Mickens, a graduate of Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., earned a law degree at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He maintains a private practice in Harrisburg, and has served on the SEF board since 2010. S




Fiscally smart leaders key to making cities stronger Probably not since the Great Depression have U.S. cities and towns been so severely challenged in balancing the public’s want for quality-of-life services and finding the funds to provide those services. Cities are, after all, service providers; nearly all cities will spend more than half—probably closer to three-quarters—of their general fund revenue on their employees, the people who provide services, whether it’s police and fire protection, parks and libraries availability, water and sewage maintenance, or health center accessibility. Salaries, health benefits, and pensions, combined, dwarf construction and maintenance in a city’s budget—these latter two can be found in a capital improvement plan spanning several years which is funded through municipal bonds, much like a home mortgage. So I believe I am safe in saying that all American cities are in a worried state these days, even cities that are experiencing dramatic growth in their recovery from the recession, like my own city of Houston. In Houston, we have regained well over 200 percent of the jobs that were lost during the recession, homes sales are at an all time high, new folks are moving in at the rate of 150 a day, salaries in all sectors are continuing to rise, Yet the city’s general fund is facing a about a $200 million shortfall in its upcoming fiscal year. According to a recent Governing magazine survey, 34 percent of elected officials do not know their organization’s debt capacity or how frequently the debt is assessed; only 38 percent of the elected officials consider themselves very knowledgeable about public finance. That is not good. And it leads to policies and budgets that are not sustainable. Most public officials, both elected and appointed, dearly want to do the best they can for the citizens they serve. Their mission is utterly noble. The good news is that we are seeing an increase in the number of graduate students who intend to pursue public service. There are also a large number of officials going back to college to study government and public policy. Already an attorney, I myself earned my MBA SPRING/SUMMER 2015

while I was serving on the Houston City Council. It is apparent that public officials are taking a new interest in fiscal management—and realizing that creating and setting public policies is not separate from the ultimate financing of them. Many elected officials and department managers are making time to learn more, aside from formal degree programs, and listening in to webinars, attending conferences and seminars sponsored by the National League of Cities, National Association of Counties, the Government Finance Officers Association and other groups. Public policy/government graduate programs that really work are extremely informative in terms of providing real-life case studies of effective financial management for city planners. I teach a graduate course in public finance, and students finish the term focused and very aware of the challenges. 90 percent of graduates report going into their careers feeling prepared; ninety percent of public officials say they have a preference for hiring these graduates. I hear from constituents all the time: “What’s so difficult about managing a city budget?” It ought to be pretty simple, really: you take all the revenue sources—property and sales taxes, franchise fees, municipal court fines, charges for services, license and permit fees—and allot those funds to the various city departments to provide services. However, somehow, year after year, on June 30, the close of the fiscal year in Houston, the budget has balanced. Yet, somehow, year after year, the city has accumulated an astounding level of debt. To the public, a ‘balanced budget’ sounds good, and often it’s just too good to be true. It’s become common practice to shift costs to the next year or to borrow for operating costs. As elected officials, we need to be more transparent about the cost of government and how we pay for it. After all, behind every dollar is a person. S

Ronald Green [Eta Mu, ’90] was elected city controller of Houston in 2009, and is a former member. 69



Battling Your Debt Addiction: It is NOT a Way of Life We’ve become desensitized to the fact that carrying debt has become a way of life. In order to have the things we want—whether we actually need them or not—we seem to be OK with carrying debt. For many of us, we couldn’t imagine life without it. For the standard consumer, it’s important to recognize that this way of thinking is only being promoted to keep you in the poorhouse while making somebody else rich. The more you’re conditioned to be a borrower, the more you’ll strive to keep the lender in business. It is the lender who has the ultimate power and control when you’re indebted to them, not you. You shouldn’t be too comfortable using a credit card, primarily if you aren’t clearing your balance at the end of each month. This is some of the most expensive type of debt you can carry, with the average interest rate on a credit card at 13.37 percent. I once heard Mark Cuban say that one of the best investments someone could have is to not use credit cards. Once they’re paid off, you’re instantly making a 14 percent return on your money because you’re not spending it on interest. Not too bad of a return on investment, eh? You will at times in your life ultimately feel that debt is a necessary evil, mainly with student loans and some other forms of investments. While that particular use of debt may be beneficial, getting comfortable holding onto loans creates a subconscious image in our mind that EVERYTHING essential to our living requires debt dependency. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In many cases, you could afford an easier life if you made the conscious effort to stop spending beyond your means (e.g., buying a used car instead of a new car, buying a new phone on a need basis only instead of buying each new model to keep up with the Joneses). I don’t suggest that debt is bad in all cases, but it’s important to recognize those rare exceptions and how living a life that is as close to debt-free as possible will work to your financial benefit. We’ll discuss that soon. S

Jamaal Myles [Tau Alpha, ’08], after overcoming $95,000 in tuition debt, founded The Urban Money Manager in an effort to help other college men with student loan debt. Follow him on Twitter @theurbanmoney. 70



ETA LAMBDA GIVES SCHOOL KIDS BACKPACKS In Atlanta, children who needed new backpacks for school found some helping hands with members of Eta Lambda Chapter this school year. In October, Eta Lambda—a multi-winner of the national chapter-of-the- year award—sponsored a backpack giveaway program for students at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Atlanta Joseph B. Whitehead Club.

Brothers from Eta Lambda Chapter share a fun moment with kids at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Atlanta Joseph B. Whitehead Club.

The brothers filled the backpacks with necessary school supplies, including notebooks, pencils, pens, highlighters, calculators, and ear buds. The supplies were donated by the chapter and Adidas provided the backpacks. Thirty-eight students received the gifts. Whitehead Club Executive Director Dwayne Willis said he was appreciative of what the Alpha brothers had done for the youths and invited the chapter to come back and continue to engage the young people at the Boys & Girls Club. S


TAU EPSILON CLAYTON STATE UNIVERSITY The brothers of Pi Gamma Lambda continue to work to ensure eligible citizens are able to vote. During the midterm congressional elections members collaborated with college brothers at nearby Tau Epsilon Chapter at Clayton State University to conduct another successful voter registration drive in September. The event was held during the Clayton County Health and Wellness 5K run at Starr Park in Forest Park, Ga. The community welcomed the fraternity brothers, and a significant number of citizens were registered to vote. S




ALPHA DELTA LAMBDA MEMPHIS, TENN. MEMPHIS BROTHERS CONTINUE TO INVEST IN BLACK YOUTH Brothers of Alpha Delta Lambda in Memphis are investing in the community by cultivating the next generation of leaders. This past summer, members of Alpha Delta Lambda Chapter, under the direction of Brother Quincy Beasley, conducted another successful Youth Leadership Development Institute (YLDI). The summer institute focused on teaching an amazing group of future leaders the importance of civic and social engagement, the significance of developing strong moral leadership, and the changes affecting various African-American economies. More importantly, the Memphis brotherhood emphasized the need for these young minds to understand their value and purpose in a world. The event hosted and mentored more than 30 young men and women from the community. S




THETA TAU LAMBDA HELENA, ARK. The Forrest City Education Association in partnership with the brothers of Theta Tau Lambda Chapter in Helena, Ark., distributed more than 60 turkeys with all the fixings last Thanksgiving. The effort helped feed more than 250 people in the Haynes, Marianna, Madison, and Widener communities in Eastern Arkansas. Brother Jack Crumbly, chairman of the Thanksgiving Basket Committee called it “a wonderful day of service and a blessed opportunity to be able to give back to our community.” S

Preparing Thanksgiving turkeys and baskets, from left: Theta Tau Lambda Brothers Cedric Williams; Robert Scott; Haynes Ark., Mayor Deborah Brown; Brothers Jack Crumbly; Howard Smith and Frank Shaw, a member of the Forrest City Education Association.

ALPHA BROTHERS SEEK HEALTH, WELLNESS, AND SELF-CARE Nu Delta Lambda Chapter in Chesapeake Va., conducted a 90-day “06 Self-Care, Health, and Wellness Program” in August in conjunction with Dr. Robin L. Corbett, of Hampton Roads Gastroenterology, P.C. The workshop titled “African-American Males, Colon Cancer, and Self-Care,” presented information related to early detection, prognosis, risk factors, prevention, and self-care awareness. The Nu Delta Lambda brothers go above and beyond providing service to the community by participating in weekly health initiatives including a 10-mile run, 3-mile walk, 5-mile bike ride, Norfolk Tides baseball game, and a nutritional workshop called “Healthy Habits, Healthy You.” S SPRING/SUMMER 2015



Marion Barry left mark on nation’s capital BY RICK BLALOCK



He was known as “Mayor for life” and served much of his life in the political arena. Brother Marion Barry Jr. [Beta Xi, ‘55], the son of a Mississippi sharecropper, rose from the streets of activism to elected office at several levels. He captured the mayor’s office four times, in 1978, 1982, 1986 and 1994. After a stint in investment banking, Barry won a seat on the D.C. City Council in 2004, representing a depressed section on the city’s southeast side. His flamboyant style drew critics and supporters alike. In 1990, he ran afoul of the law after being caught on video smoking crack cocaine. The New York Times called him “a charismatic yet confounding politician ... indisputably, he was a political Lazarus with a gift for convincing his followers that their hopes and disappointments were his, too.” Barry worked many odd jobs as a youngster, everything from delivering newspapers to waiting tables and picking cotton. He was an Eagle Scout and earned a degree in chemistry from LeMoyne College in Memphis, Tenn., in 1958. He was one of the founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee which worked with Brother Martin Luther King Jr., in organizing peaceful sit-ins in Nashville.

He moved to Washington in the mid 1960s and began his political rise after being elected in 1970 to a local citizen advisory board to heal the rift between black residents and city police officers. He was later president of the school board and a member of the city council before becoming mayor. In 1979, he was sworn in by another Alpha brother, Supreme Court Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall. His death came just months after the publication of his autobiography, “Mayor for Life: The Incredible Story of Marion Barry Jr.” Brother Barry died of heart disease and entered Omega Chapter on November 23. He was 78. S

Honoring a Brother, Saving Lives in Haiti Brother Benjamin F. Holland [Alpha Rho Lambda ’75] was known for his generosity, evident throughout his career as a registered pharmacist in Columbus, Ohio. He made considerable contributions to his church and community. He was a leader at SPRING/SUMMER 2015

Good Shepherd Baptist Church, involved with various boards in the healthcare industry, and participated with Lifeline Christian Mission, an organization driven to help save the lives of Haiti’s malnourished children and other nutritionally vulnerable people. His work defined him as a brother committed to service. Holland entered Omega Chapter on Jan. 30, 2014. S 75 75


The gentle giant who made life better for all Americans BY DONALD ROSS AND RICK BLALOCK



If the true measure of an Alpha man is what he does outside the House of Alpha, it is clear that Brother Edward W. Brooke III was one of those brothers we refer to as a “giant of Alpha.” He got his start in politics, in Alpha Phi Alpha, and he took the lessons of serving on the fraternity Board of Directors and debating on the floor of the General Convention all the way to Congress. In the U.S. Senate he was simply a master at getting things done for those who needed help the most—and at a time when there were few people of color on Capitol Hill. For sure he will always be remembered for breaking barriers: the first African-American to be popularly elected to the U.S. Senate; the first black state attorney general in the country; the only African-American senator reelected to office—you could go on and on. But his legislative impact is what will be his lasting testament. While in the Senate, Brother Brooke was an early voice for sanctions on South Africa because of its apartheid policies. He also was a leading voice on fair housing. Along with then Sen. Walter Mondale, D-Minn., Brooke sponsored a key section of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Title VIII is commonly known as the Fair Housing Act and was a follow-up to the


Civil Rights Act of 1964. While the Civil Rights Act of 1866, prohibited discrimination in housing, there were no federal enforcement provisions until Brooke’s legislation in 1968, corrected the oversight and further outlawed discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing. Born in Washington, D.C., in 1919, Brooke attended public schools before enrolling at Howard University. While an undergraduate, he joined Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity at Beta Chapter. In 1939, he was elected president of the chapter. He also represented the fraternity’s Eastern Region as a lay member (now assistant vice president) of the Executive Council (now Board of Directors). Later, in 1949, Brooke would again serve Alpha as the Eastern Region vice president until 1951. After graduating from Howard in 1941, he was a captain in the U.S. Army during World War II and received a Bronze Star. He graduated from Boston University Law School in 1948 and later his political career took off. He served as chairman of the Boston Finance Commission before his election as Massachusetts attorney general in 1962. He was reelected in 1964. While America was in the midst of the Civil Rights



Movement, Brooke quietly won election on the Republican ticket to the United States Senate in 1966. He was reelected in 1972 and served until 1979, losing a bid for a third term. Upon his death Brooke received accolades across party lines and from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. President Barack Obama said in a statement: “Ed Brooke stood at the forefront of the battle for civil rights and economic fairness. During his time in elected office, he sought to build consensus and understanding across partisan lines, always working towards practical solutions to our nation’s challenges.” “America mourns the loss of a trailblazer who will always be remembered as a model of courage and honesty in office,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “Sen. Brooke’s accomplishments remind us that anything is possible in our country.” “Massachusetts has a history of sending giants to the United States Senate, great statesmen like Quincy Adams, Webster, Cabot Lodge, and Kennedy. We count Ed Brooke among them,” said Democratic Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. Though a lifelong Republican, Brooke took some liberal positions while he served and at times opposed three of President Richard Nixon’s Supreme Court nominees.

His efforts did not go unnoticed, both inside and outside of Alpha Phi Alpha. In 1993, he received the Alpha Award of Merit, the highest honor bestowed on a member of the fraternity. He also was appointed the first chairman of Alpha Phi Alpha World Policy Council in 1995 and was named chairman emeritus in 1998. Brooke was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004 and four years later, the Congressional Gold Medal; the nation’s highest civilian honors from the executive and legislative branches of government. In 2008, Brooke donated $100,000 to the fraternity to provide scholarships and to assist African-American males pursuing degrees in education who want to become teachers. Himself a scholar, he penned two books: in 1966, The Challenge of Change: The Crisis in Our Two-Party System and in 2006, Bridging the Divide: My Life. Brooke is survived by his wife, two daughters and one son. After more than 75 years of service to the fraternity and to the world, Brother Brooke died at his home in Miami from natural causes. He entered Omega Chapter on Jan. 3, at the age of 95. S

On March 15, 2014, in Coral Gables, Fla. Alpha's leadership had their last fraternal visit with Brother Brooke. Standing from left, Alpha Phi Alpha World Policy Council Chair Horace Dawson, Southern Region Assistant Vice President Ismael Brown, 29th General President Milton C. Davis, Anne Brooke, General President Mark S. Tillman, 31st General President Harry E. Johnson, 32nd General President Darryl R. Matthews, and Beta Beta Lambda Chapter President Pierre Rutledge.

78 78



The following is a listing of members who have entered Omega Chapter. For each member, included is: his name; the category of membership: college, alumni or life; with life member number if available; chapter of initiation; date of initiation; last chapter active with; and date of death. All of the information is based on what is submitted by chapters and family members and reconciled with the fraternity’s records.

Steven Broadway Alumni Beta Pi: 1995 Alpha Delta Lambda Omega: 5/18/14

David L. Mosely Alumni Initiated 1986 Iota Alpha Lambda Claude Odom Alumni Epsilon Alpha Zeta Beta Lambda Omega 11/10/14

Paul L. Foydras Jr. Alumni Beta Sigma Xi Nu Lambda Omega: 12/2013 Albert A. Jenkins Alumni Xi Nu Lambda: 1990 Xi Nu Lambda Omega 7/15/14

Rodney D. Perkins College Eta Kappa Eta Kappa Omega 10/15/14

Malcolm Quillen Alumni Zeta Xi: Nu Mu Lambda Omega: 11/14/14 Williams A. Skinner Alumni Gamma: 1951 Beta Delta Lambda Omega 9/16/2014 Robert W. Woodard Alumni Beta Xi: 6/8/68 Alpha Delta Lambda Omega: 7/9/14





BOARD OF DIRECTORS General President Mark S. Tillman General Treasurer Hyacinth C. Ahuruonye Comptroller Donald E. Jackson Regional Vice President - East R. Anthony Mills Regional Vice President Midwest Willis L. Lonzer III Regional Vice President South Ronald M. Natson Sr. Regional Vice President Southwest Maurice D. Gipson Regional Vice President - West Russell E. Flye Regional Assistant Vice President - East Augustus G. Tolson III Regional Assistant Vice President - Midwest Justin J. Roberson Regional Assistant Vice President - South Brandon D. Woodruff

GENERAL CONVENTION OFFICIALS Director of Conventions Van L. Strickland director.conventions@apa1906. net Parliamentarian Lucien J. Metellus Chaplain Clyde D. Carnegie Sergeant At Arms Darrell M. Chase Security Director Donald L. Woods




Leadership Development Institute Brandon R. Tucker


M.I.S. and Technology Rufus P. Credle Jr.


March of Dimes Wilbert L. Brown



Project Alpha William T. Ealy , Co-chair Ramon E. Peralta, Co-chair

A. Charles Haston Brother’s Keeper Adrian G. Brockington

Protocol and Logistics Kenyatta N. Shamburger

Belford V. Lawson Oratorical Contest LeAaron A. Foley Big Brothers Big Sisters Dale H. Long Boy Scouts Bobby R. Williams College Life to Corporate Life Kevin P. McAllister Go to High School Go to College Ernest Black

BUDGET & FINANCE Anthony D. Wilson

Educational Activities James E. Baker

ELECTIONS Lucious Turner III

Health and Wellness Felix Gallagher


Hobart S. Jarrett Debate Competition Ryan T. Brown



Internal Audit Review Team Dexter Leon Taylor

General Counsel Wayne C. Harvey


Historian Robert L. Harris Jr.


International Affairs André A. Moss international.affairs@apa1906. net

Regional Assistant Vice President - West JaRon A. McReynolds Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer William Douglass Lyle

HUMAN RESOURCES Roger R. Gregory Antonio Johnson


Miss Black and Gold Pageant André P. Prospere

Audit Justin J. Roberson


Regional Assistant Vice President - Southwest Rashad L. Hall

Military Brothers Melvin L. Fogle

Investment Hyacinth C. Ahuruonye John Hope Franklin Collegiate Scholars’ Bowl Thomas A. Vance Jr.

Reclamation Frank Russell Jr. Ritual and Ceremonies Ryle A. Bell Senior Alpha Affairs Step Show Competition Warren D. Isenhour Time and Place Parker Burton III Training and Development Clifford M. Clarke Voteless People is a Hopeless People Steven L. Jones World Policy Council Horace G. Dawson

FOUNDATIONS Alpha Phi Alpha Building Foundation R. Leandras “Bob” Jones net Alpha Building Foundation Corporation James R. Williams 1733 Brookwood Drive Akron, OH 44313 (330) 867-7536

Alpha Phi Alpha Education Foundation Ruben Barkley Jewel Heritage Project Foundations E. Eric Elmore

PAST GENERAL PRESIDENTS Acting General President Aaron Crutison Sr. 33rd General President Herman “Skip” Mason Jr. 32nd General President Darryl R. Matthews Sr. 31st General President Harry E. Johnson Sr. 30th General President Adrian L. Wallace 29th General President Milton C. Davis 28th General President Henry Ponder 27th General President Charles C. Teamer Sr. 26th General President Ozell Sutton 1640 Loch Lomond Trail, SW Atlanta, GA 30331 (404) 344-0370 25th General President James Williams 1733 Brookwood Drive Akron, OH 44313 (330) 867-7536 Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Corporate Office 2313 St. Paul St. Baltimore, MD 21218 (410) 554-0040

ALPHA PHI ALPHA FRATERNITY JEWEL FOUNDERS Henry Arthur Callis Charles Henry Chapman Eugene Kinckle Jones George Biddle Kelley Nathaniel Allison Murray Robert Harold Ogle Vertner Woodson Tandy

Alpha Phi Alpha Charitable Foundation Dennis G. Kemp Sr.







Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. joins other fraternities, sororities, parents and academic institutions in the fight against hazing. No one person can eliminate hazing. It takes the commitment of everyone involved in the process of joining a group organization to make it happen. We encourage you to join us to make this world a better place through hazing prevention. The more we know about hazing the smarter we can work to stop it. Go to to learn more about hazing prevention.


SPRING/SUMMER DEFINITION: Hazing2015 is any action taken or any situation created intentionally that causes embarrassment, harassment or ridicule and risks 81 emotional and/or physical harm to members of a group or team, whether new or not, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.