Beta Brotherhood

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“The Kenyon Affair” “My acceptance by the group was not expected, it wasn’t necessary, and frankly, was detested by many. However, despite the rather daunting times, the men of the Beta Alpha Chapter of Beta Theta Pi were able to exercise an objectivity and open-mindedness that I had never experienced. My undergraduate days of Beta are among the most pleasurable days of my life.” — Bill Lowry, Kenyon ’56, The Beta Theta Pi, Winter 2012 Weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, Bill Lowry, Kenyon ’56, was initiated as the first African American in Beta history. Former Editor and Historian “Spig” Fawcett, Minnesota ’26, recorded the details in “Marching Along,” Beta’s historical summary from 1935-60: “In the spring of 1954, the Kenyon chapter had notified the General Secretary that they planned to

initiate a member of the Negro race, and inquired if there was any legal reason why it could not. He replied there was no Code restriction against such action, providing the other requirements had been met, but that such an act might be harmful to other chapters and to the Fraternity at large. He requested that they consult with their alumni and that they delay the initiation until one of the general officers could visit them and discuss

the matter, pointing out that the president of the Fraternity would be in the neighborhood and could be at Kenyon within a day. Also, the Cincinnati chapter asked the Kenyon chapter to postpone action until a group of undergraduates could visit them. All of these requests were refused and the chapter proceeded with the initiation.” — Summarized by K. Warren Fawcett, Minnesota ’26 (Marching Along, pg. 331)

“In the 60 years that have passed since that time, I don’t think I have experienced another act of personal involvement displaying the courage and equity [my chapter brothers] displayed at that time,” said Lowry. “From that moment on, I was sold on the type of men that Beta Theta Pi produced.” Beta Brotherhood | page 132

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