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Alpha Phi Alpha Inc.

Alpha Phi Alpha Shield

When I went off to study at an all black college I was encouraged to join one of the fraternities. Being a member of a fraternity could actually look good on my resume. The organization of brothers could help when it comes time to network for a job. But I knew nothing about fraternities other than what I heard about the movie Animal House featuring the late John Belushi as a lead with a number of other actors depicting life in a white fraternity. I never bothered to see the movie. The only scene that I’m familiar with is the one where John Belushi is squishing mash potatoes out his mouth in an imitation of a zit. The movie was stupid if you ask me. But that was the extent of my exposure to fraternities and I wanted nothing to do with them.

But black fraternities were supposed to be different. I was told that they actually helped the black community and they promoted black unity. When I got to college my roommate was a senior in the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity. I loved this guy. Me being the naïve nincompoop that I was this man helped take care of me and helped me adapt to my first semester in college. He introduced me to the world of black fraternities and the world of the Sigmas. I have to confess that I never did care for the Sigmas. But my roommate meant the world to me. The only reason I’m not a member of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity is the fact that the college I attended had a policy that freshmen were not allowed to pledge into a fraternity.

The following year my roommate was gone and a senior from the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity put me in his crosshairs. He was the lone Alpha at the school. When he would leave the Alpha chapter on the yard would die unless some new recruits were made. I was introduced to fraternity parties black people style. I was wined and dined. Literally! One night, at one fraternity party, I was given a mixture of Wild Irish Rose, Thunderbird, and MD 20/20 mixed with Hi C fruit punch. The sweet concoction tasted like seriously fruity Kool Aid. It went down very smooth. But it came back up like fire. That night I was a human fire hydrant. Is that a fire alarm I hear? Don’t worry and just stand back! I’ll put that building fire out with a suffocating mixture of bile and vomit. There were lots of parties. And when the spring semester rolled around I pledged Alpha Phi Alpha with two other pledges. We were on line for six weeks.

Once I crossed over I lost a number of friends. People say that once someone goes Greek people change. The fact is once someone goes Greek everyone changes. Some people start to feel inferior. Some people want to make up for their insecurity with fights and conflict. There was one night when the whole school was in an uproar when a fight broke out between the Alphas and the members of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity. There were some Omegas visiting from another school and the Omegas on the yard were going to show them a good time. They were like a gang looking for some kind of trouble. There was a dance in the recreation center. An Omega hit an Alpha in his jaw because he felt like he was being disrespected. Security got involved. One of the brothers was handcuffed to a stair rail until he calmed down. That was the first night I ever regretted pledging. It was stupid. We were fighting over nothing. Just like the movie School Days. That was well over twenty years ago.

The Alphas, like all the other fraternities, had these events that the entire campus would wait all semester to see. There is the Ms. Alpha Beauty Pageant, the Alpha Ball and Cotillion, the step contest with the rest of the fraternities, the introduction of the new pledges, etcetera. The whole purpose of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity was to generate an air of sophisticated distinction and exclusivity. The fraternities would compete with each other to impress the rest of the campus as the most distinguished of the fraternities. This is true of just about any of the black fraternities with the one possible exception of Phi Beta Sigma. No offense but they would take just about anybody. And no offense to anyone else but that’s exactly how it should have been.

When I pledged Alpha Phi Alpha I was introduced into a world of self inflicted subjugation. Black people were actually imitating the Greek based social organizations of white people. We promoted debutant balls and high dollar evenings of pomp and circumstance that had little to do with being black or African. There are special events that are designed to promote bourgeoisie behavior and aristocratic airs. One of our advisors, who just so happened to be one of the deans of the college, once told a pledge that he should be thankful that he wasn’t pledging back in his day because Alphas don’t take kindly to members that were too dark. We were a black people whiter than we knew. Alphas, like the Omegas, like Kappa Alpha Psi, like the sororities Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta, wanted to avoid our blackness and emphasize our whiteness.

Funny, but I lost track of my fraternity bothers and fraternity itself. The last I heard of the great Alpha Phi Alpha they were working to establish a ninety million dollar memorial in Washington, DC for our late great brother Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When I read the news article I felt nothing but disappointment in my former fraternity. Ninety million dollars could go a long way for helping black people do something wonderful in the community. Ninety million dollars could sponsor a lot of entrepreneurs or a ton of education opportunities. Instead they are going to spend that money for a tribute to a dead past. No forward thinking on behalf of the black community at all. But they’ll look good.

Saturday, February 2, 2008 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black History, Life, Thoughts


  1. wow, i jsut wanted to say thank you for this honest post. and thanks once again for that last paragraph. i think you’ve articulated the frivolity of the King memorial very well…i think Dr. King would rather have the money be spent elsewhere if he were still living.

    Comment by Storme | Monday, February 4, 2008 | Reply

  2. […] was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans. Johnson died […]

    Pingback by Highbrid Nation » Blog Archive » Black History’s Businessman of the Day - John H. Johnson | Tuesday, February 5, 2008 | Reply

  3. Nice post. When I was in college I wanted to join a Black sorority- Delta Sigma Theta to be precise. But the more I wanted to, the more that I held back. Sort of weird I suppose. Plus, I like to think for myself, I don’t want somebody to dictate who I can and cannot associate with. There is alot of that in Black sorors. Us women can be quite catty sometimes and I just couldn’t see myself involved in that. But, like you said the men and women sure was looking quite sharp.

    Comment by Paula | Tuesday, February 5, 2008 | Reply

  4. As a current and active member of Alpha Phi Alpha I respect your position. I am also a little disturbed and disappointed by some of your comments; however I realize they are yours and only you have to own them.
    It’s a shame your fraternal experience was less than it could have been.
    I would pose to you the question did you make it better or worse. Did you engage? Did you move outside of a poor undergrad experience? Much like any organization Alpha is what you make it. And true we do have less than stellar Brothers within our ranks. But we also have excellent men who try to unite and effect change. The goal is to stand shoulder to shoulder and pull those who may not be able to do it on their own, up and work as a unit. Not falter as individuals.

    If ever you want to come back and you are a duly initiated Brother, the door will always be open. If you choose not too, again it is a decision that you made and is in my eye in direct opposition to the oath that you may or may not have taken.

    P.S. With respect to the King monument please tell the whole fundraising story.

    Comment by Buie | Tuesday, February 5, 2008 | Reply

  5. Did you know this information about these fraternities and sororities?

    Comment by Avail | Friday, February 8, 2008 | Reply

  6. Peacemaker,

    Thanks for the post. You brought back some bitter memories.

    I was in the second semester of my freshman year at a large white school in the South when I lasted all of one week on line for Alpha Phi Alpha.

    I was Number 3 of a four-person line. Myself and No. 2 dropped off. I dropped off because I didn’t like feeling like I was being controlled and made to feel fearful of venturing out of my dorm room and facing a “big brother.”

    I also didn’t like the taunting. I thought sure I was gonna swing at one of my “big brothers” and at that point I’d be jumped. One particularly nasty session (I wasn’t hit) had me damn near in tears. I figured it was better to drop.

    I later heard that the two remaining line brothers underwent some physical abuse minutes before they had to do the step show pledges do prior to their going-over ceremony.

    To his credit, No. 1. still remained friends with me after he went over. Some of his new frat brothers didn’t take too kindly to that.

    For my remaining time in school, certain folk wouldn’t let me forget I was an “eternal Sphnixman.”

    “I didn’t know you weren’t an Alpha!” one young lady exclaimed to me in my senior year, thinking because I still friends with some of the Alphas I was one of them.

    Looking back, I was pledging for all the wrong reasons – wanting to belong, getting noticed by girls, etc.

    There are days I feel like taking care of this unfinished business and going grad chapter, but I haven’t yet. One reason is that at 48 I feel I’ve got enough on my life’s plate without adding a frat to the mix.


    Comment by profunksticated | Friday, February 8, 2008 | Reply

    • Go ahead sir, I would suggest you follow your heart (if indeed it is) and go grad chapter.

      I do believe Alpha Phi Alpha has contributed a lot to the community.

      Comment by Moi | Friday, November 6, 2009 | Reply

      • Moi,

        You say that you feel Alpha Phi Alpha has contributed a lot to the community. Such as? I am interested to know your take on what they have contributed.


        Comment by theblacksentinel | Friday, November 6, 2009

  7. Thanks for the feedback profunksticated!

    Honestly, why would anyone who is conscious want to pledge a black oriented Greek organization? There are better ways to promote the fellowship of black men.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Friday, February 8, 2008 | Reply

  8. Your point is well taken. I totally agree.

    Today’s new black Greeks are looked down upon by their older bretheren because the newer members aren’t required to undergo all that hazing bullshit.

    As you know, hazing today is verboten, although some chapters still try, some with the tacit approval of their faculty advisers. You’re not a real brother unless you’ve gone through some adversity, the thinking goes.

    The only reason I can think a black greek organization would engage in hazing (to the point of some pledges dying, unfortunately) is perhaps the idea that unfair treatment is what they’re gonna face in the real white world and that pledging is preparation.

    Of course, being on the outside looking in, I can only guess.

    Comment by profunksticated | Monday, February 11, 2008 | Reply

  9. I also joined the Divine 9 and I too feel like you.. I should be laying down my letters soon enough! I too was pledged for 6 weeks, and the kinds of things they did to us.. I’d NEVER do to anyone! Thanks for this post.. That’s why we struggle as a people, We hold each other down!

    Much love to you my brothas and sistas.. Check out the website!

    Comment by LaDii B-More | Wednesday, March 12, 2008 | Reply

  10. I understand the post very well. I agree with many of the things that you stated. The message about the memorial to Dr. Marting Luther King, Jr. is an eye opener. I do agree with puting the money to a better use rather than just building a memorial. But as far as the organizations portraying “White,” I do not fully agree with. Can anyone tell me what it is to be white? I do not know much about the other organinzations, but what I do know is that in the South, we are taught to be the best at what you want to do. The process I went through taught me to stand strong through any situation. People always want to criticize pledging, but in actuality, life is a pledging process on its own. It beats you, it humiliates you, and causes you so much stress that you could die. My process taught me how to handle these situations, increase my faith, and always hold my head high. Our organizations are amomgst the greatest in the world. We have done so much for out community, and we are continuing to strive to better help our community. The unfortunate thing about it is, our people are too proud of a people. When a “black” person become successful, and tries to give back, people chastize and criticize. It is a lose-lose situation.

    Comment by Amari | Tuesday, April 1, 2008 | Reply

  11. Thanks for the feedback Amari,

    But I thought I had made it clear. “We promoted debutant balls and high dollar evenings of pomp and circumstance that had little to do with being black or African. There are special events that are designed to promote bourgeoisie behavior and aristocratic airs. One of our advisors, who just so happened to be one of the deans of the college, once told a pledge that he should be thankful that he wasn’t pledging back in his day because Alphas don’t take kindly to members that were too dark. We were a black people whiter than we knew.” Debutant balls are not a product of African behavior but more along the lines of a European behavior more closely associated to the French aristocrats. The fact that the black fraternities are based on a Greek society instead of an African society should be another clue.

    It is good to hear that your experience with the fraternity was a good and positive one. It sounds like you are a better individual because of your experience. I like to think that although my experience was not as positive as yours, I am a better individual because of it. My experience has made me more sensitive to the practice of exclusion and separation and self promotion.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, April 2, 2008 | Reply

  12. First, let me say greetings brother. I am sorry that you where left on a campus with little or no leadership in our dear organization. Second, I am disapointed with you because as an member of Alpha Phi Alpha you are supposed to be a leader of change…if something isn’t up to the standards of Alpha, YOU not others are supposed to change it.Third, Alphas aren’t Greek and if you are true Alpha you would understand what I’m talking about. Our ways and the things that we do in chapters who abide by what is set by the national guidelines do lots more than party and get drunk. Last,yes ninety million dollars is a lot of money for a memorial and yes it could be used for other purposes, but think about what this man meant to our people. If the man didn’t exist, maybe we wouldn’t be exchanging ideas in this intergrated world of ours.Maybe we would still be singing “we shall overcome”,maybe we still wouldn’t be able to stay at intergrated hotels, or maybe we wouldn’t able to eat where we would like. To me, maybe ninety million dollars isn’t that much for the price he payed, his life.
    As a man of Alpha, I embrase your opinion because we unlike others love to grow and that only comes from debate. I also challenge you to join a grad chapter and push your agenda because we may need to take a look at issues from a different perspective. Until you send your single back and renounce your membership you are still my brother.We still love you.
    Hope to hear from you soon…

    Comment by Dan | Tuesday, April 15, 2008 | Reply

  13. Thanks for the feedback Dan,

    Your response is pretty typical. Alphas use their status as Alphas as some kind of justification to separate themselves from the rest of the black community. If you were truly oriented to the black community you may know a little something about what I am talking about. Your ways are not my ways. My ways are not the ways of Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc. A black organization should base its foundation not on Greek culture but on African culture. A black organization with a history of discrimination against darker black people could not be all that concerned about the welfare of the black community. Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc. is willing to spend ninety million dollars as a tribute to a past that has been manipulated to almost fairy tale status instead of spending ninety million dollars on the development of the black community’s future. One day you may understand. The future can only hope.

    Alpha Phi Alpha is little more than a club. Despite any opinion of failure or disappointment the organization will continue and I will survive. Many black men will continue to join and help build even more elaborate tributes to the past. Many black people enjoy the pomp and circumstances that comes with participating in such events as cotillions and debutant balls. This isn’t for me or other black people who may have a little conscious.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, April 15, 2008 | Reply

    • Little more than a club? Wow! Your opinion is yours, but believe me, some of the contributions made by my brothers in our society is a lot more than any club would do. Having pledged and been made an Alpha was something that I can honestly say has sustained me in times of strife, while I don’t agree with all the hazing that takes place while pledging I do feel that this four to six week induction allows for an individual to really understand what a brotherhood is and what’s required…

      Comment by Adrain Parker | Tuesday, November 10, 2009 | Reply

      • Definitely I agree, the Process i believe is what builds up the “Alpha Man”. Imbuing the sense of self, community, brotherhood and manliness in one during the process. OF course, i do not agree with the unnecessary things that go on like senseless beatings etc.

        Comment by Eugene | Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    • Thanks for the feedback Dan,

      I guess it depends on the club you’re referring to. I’m sure the Boy Scouts Club of America, as an organization created by and fully embraced by the dominant community, that has a number of members who have gone on to do some great things, would disagree.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, November 10, 2009 | Reply

  14. For starters, the past is never dead; the present and the future is built upon the deeds of the past. Therefore, a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. represents a last tribute to a man who greatly impacted not only America, but the entire world. Although, I would agree that the cost of building such a memorial is weighty investment; it can be rightly argued that if we can moblize $90 million for a momument, we should be able to do the same for such issues as improving the education, housing, and job opportunities for African Americans–something that Dr. King was seeking to accomplish prior to his assassination. In regards to the elitism and colorism of Alpha Phi Alpha, let just say that organizations,oftentimes, reflect the values and norms of the larger society. When Alpha Phi Phi was established in 1906, elitism and colorism–byproducts of slavery–was common in the African American community. Therefore, it is only logical that certain elements of these twin-cancers would be present in Alpha Phi Alpha. But this does not mean that the organization was built on elitism and colorism; it just means that these elements were present in Alpha Phi Alpha, as they were present in other Black institutions, such as churches and schools. Matter of fact, elitism and colorism is still a major factor affecting Black people today. In terms of Alpha Phi Alpha being a “Greek” organization. There are Blacks today who have English, French, German, Italian, etc. names. Does this mean that these people belong to those nationalities or racial groups. Alpha Phi Alpha is a black founded and focused organization with a Greek name–just as many of you today were born to black parents and embrace black culture, although you may carry an English or French name. The point that I am making is that you must judge the impact of an organizaton by its historical legacy and contributions to he development of Black life. Alpha Phi Alpha has given much to the advancement of the African American community, while also, at times, falling short due to the misguided actions of more than a few. Thanks for reading, and I appreciate your comments.

    Comment by Rashid Fai'Sal | Wednesday, April 23, 2008 | Reply

  15. Thanks for the feedback Rashad Fa’Sal,

    But we must ask what one means by alive or dead. After all, my grandfather was a great man and I remember him well. He died about fifteen years ago. He is part of the past. He has taught me many things but that does not mean that he is still alive. I loved him like I loved no one else and it does not change the fact that he is gone. I could take all my extra income and build a tribute to his legacy. I could spin stories of how he did wondrous feats. I could pump him up until he is legend. I could do this all to the neglect of my son who is alive. I could spend all my money on a grandpa memorial and then turn around and say if I could find the money for the memorial I can find the money to pay for my son’s food, education, shelter, and such. But let me build the tribute to my grandfather first because that takes top priority. We claim we do this to honor King’s works. But Doctor King wasn’t working to build a memorial so people could worship him. Doctor King was trying to build a community.

    It is true that elitism was not the cornerstone of Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc. when it was founded. However, this does not mean that it is not a problem. America was not founded on a foundation of racism. The declaration of independence doesn’t start of We The White People. But somehow racism has become a natural part of the social structure of America. Therefore, it is not logical to assume that we should come to expect it. It is also true that black people separating themselves from each other permeates throughout the black community. So what is the argument here? Is it wishful thinking to expect a fraternity that bills itself as designed for the fellowship of black men to actually think it is for the fellowship of all black men? Or should one expect deception and not be disappointed with the elitism?

    Yes there are other organizations that are supposed to be devoted to the black experience designed around concepts of European social structure. No one said that Alpha Phi Alpha was exclusive to this arrangement. These other organizations are not the subject here. Alpha Phi Alpha is. If there were other black organizations having members jumping off bridges to their death will that mean that Alpha Phi Alpha must do it as well? The issue is not the name. The issue is that we have another in a sea of organizations that says that it is intended for the black community when in reality it is intended for the black elitism and the perpetuation of its own promotions. We can take everything and separate it into its own separate entity and explain it away. Other black organizations have names that aren’t black. Why should Alpha Phi Alpha be different? Other black organizations have elements of separatism. Why should Alpha Phi Alpha be different? Other black organizations have tributes to the past. Why should Alpha Phi Alpha be different? And if we ask these questions we should also ask other black organizations are shams. Why should Alpha Phi Alpha be different? Other black organizations have been detrimental to the black community. Why should Alpha Phi Alpha be different?

    There are people who are more than willing to tolerate mediocrity. I was naive to think the Alpha experience was going to be different and uplifting. The fact that it has done great things in the past does not justify its future. It’s kind of like the person who gets a character witness to counter the fact that they are on trial for mugging somebody. The past is the past. Alpha Phi Alpha has done great things. But that doesn’t mean the fraternity deserves a tribute or blind devotion. We don’t give tributes to people who build tributes. We celebrate people who change the world. A tribute to Doctor King does not give his legacy any more credence. No one can give or take away Doctor King’s accomplishments. And like all organizations, if the members allow themselves to be misguided by a few then those members need to stop and take stock of an organization that was so easily misled. We must quit going along for the ride and do what we can to stop it. And if we cannot stop it at least we can stop being a party to it.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Thursday, April 24, 2008 | Reply

  16. Your points are very valid and I sense a high degree of not only frustration, but disappointment with Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. As I stated previously, my point is to place Alpha Phi Alpha within a social context–not to excuse its failures and shortcomings. America was founded on racism–a close examination of “intent” in terms of the Declaration of Independence and “fact” in terms of the United States Constitution point to purposeful exclusion of African Americans from full-fledged recognition as American citizens. In the case of the Declaration of Independence, anti-slavery statements were eliminated from the final draft. In terms of the United States Constitution, slavery was legalized and supported by fugitive slave annotations. The Declaration of Independence in its final form–although not pointing to “We White People,” nevertheless, in fact was intended to declare the independence of white “slave-owning” colonists from Great Britain. Today, we are live under the influence of both of these documents. It is logical for us to ignore the beauty of these documents because of their white supremacists origins? Or do we view these documents as having enough nobility within in them that they can be reinterpreted for the benefit of building a nation based on human equality. Am I disappointed with the historical origins of these documents–of course. But do I find enough beauty and practicality in these documents that encourage my continued support and allegiance to them–of course I do. It is within this framework that organizations such as Alpha Phi Alpha should be viewed. Both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, at one time, were considered elitist documents. These same documents became revolutionary documents when re-interpreted by men such as Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Dubois, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Can Alpha be used to foster eilitism–of course by those who believe in this philosophy. Can Alpha be used to foster reform, and even revolutionary struggle–of course by those who believe in such philosophies.

    I must say that I enjoy reading your comments for you are definitely a well-read and thoughtful person. I look forward to hearing your comments.

    Comment by Rashid Fai'Sal | Thursday, May 8, 2008 | Reply

  17. Thanks for the feedback and positivity Rashid Far’Sal,

    I truly welcome the opportunity to use the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights as analogies for this discussion. While these documents in and of themselves are truly wonderful and speak of unity in the community, the men who wrote them did not apply them to the black community. Two hundred plus years later we see the result of that black exclusion. Black people are regularly relegated to second citizen status. Black people are regularly killed in a hail of bullets for being suspicious looking, meaning black. A black child is murdered by boot camp guards and no one thinks these guards severely violated the boy’s civil rights but let a black man kill a dog and he gets three years behind bars. While these documents promise much for the nation, regardless of their words, they do not apply equally to all. Any entity that is built on a principle of discrimination and a disparity of status will exist as an entity of discrimination and disparity. Even when institutions try to implement steps to correct the racial disparity courts will rule in favor of the artificial concept of reverse discrimination. We see the blatant racial discrimination every single day and it does not stop. As beautiful as the intent may have been the reality is that it is flawed in its execution. Just because people say they want to do the right thing or even want to do the right thing, actions are what really count.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Friday, May 9, 2008 | Reply

  18. You are oh so correct in stating that “actions are what really count.” Alpha Phi Alpha–as well as other Greek-lettered organizations–can have the best of intentions but if they fail to actualize or maniefest that which is correct and righteous, then these organizations, in all truth, do not represent the best interest of the Black community. I say this to say that voices of reason and justice must continue to challenge these organizations, as well as other organizations that promise and promote community uplift, to live up to their mottos and creeds. Otherwise, criticism shall continue to come and much of it shall be justified.

    Comment by Rashid Fai'Sal | Friday, June 20, 2008 | Reply

  19. Beautifully put!


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Friday, June 20, 2008 | Reply

  20. From reading what you wrote, I am convinced that the reason you became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, was to become part of a great legacy, rather than to create your own. You were eventually forced to create your own legacy without Alpha. But i want to ask you while in undergrad what your contributions were to Alpha? Did you part take in these Debutante balls and etc…? If you were so disgusted with it why did you not seek to change it? Rather i feel you abandoned a chapter that had lost its way.While being initiated into this great organization, i was taught that Alpha was built upon the great legacies of the Ethiopians and Egyptians…The only thing about Alpha that is Greek are our Letters. When my line brothers and i entered the chapter. There was a great schism between lines within the chapter. Therefore the work of Alpha wasn’t being accomplished within our chapter. We took it upon ourselves to build a better legacy for us. We worked everyday for the next 3 years gaining the respect of our community, by actually promoting the organizations own community service based initiatives. We even created our own community services programs…We served our campus and our community to the high standards of Alpha. We didn’t let the history of Alpha and the schism within our chapter define us. You could have done the same thing. I understand your sentiments about the MLK memorial. But if you feel this strongly about it, then i challenge to start a 90million dollar fund raiser in Alpha or your local community to help the Black community. Right now all i have seen from u is a lot of complaining and no action. I challenege you to back and read the first paragraph of Esprite De Fraternity, by Brother Charles H. Garvin.

    Comment by Olaniyi Akinsanya | Friday, July 4, 2008 | Reply

  21. Thanks for the feedback Olaniyi Akinsanya,

    You challenge me to raise ninety million dollars for the black community? I challenge you and Alpha Phi Alpha to raise ninety million dollars for the black community instead of ninety million dollars for statues. You say all you hear is a lot of complaining. Maybe so. But a lot of people hear this “complaining” and it actually challenges some brothers to think about what is happening and to inspire them to do better. You, like a lot of people, feel that if change is needed it can only come from within the organization. I’ve already done all that I care to do from that perspective.

    My experience with Alpha Phi Alpha is different than yours. The line I pledged had three brothers. Believe it or not, that was a three hundred percent improvement from the semester before when the only brother on the yard was a senior getting ready to graduate. I attended a historically black college that had already seen the best of its days. I wanted to make a difference to the school, to the chapter, as well as to myself. But its hard when we were just trying to rebuild the chapter. The brothers at the university across the way kept their distance. Their focus was on being the best chapter in the Alpha universe and they were a unit unto itself unwilling to help us. The graduate chapter did what they could but the chapter had gone through years of neglect. When I left, there were eleven brothers on the yard. I helped to keep the chapter from dying off. And yet you think I abandoned my chapter. You don’t know a thing about me but feel entitled to judge me as nothing but talk. It is brothers like you that make me glad I left Alpha behind.

    You obviously feel the need to stay with the organization and do the debutante ball thing and the other programs that came from Ethiopia. I truly doubt if any of our ancestors dressed up in black tie attire and flowing ball gowns. Maybe its just me but I really don’t think our ancestors indulged in such European based finery. I’m thankful for my experience with Alpha Phi Alpha, but to go back and do it again? Not until I know that the organization is truly focused on the black community’s future and not on wasting vast sums of money on impressive tributes to the past.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Friday, July 4, 2008 | Reply

  22. Alpha has surpassed the challenge i pose to you. we have the community service based initiatives…i.e. “A voteless people is a hopeless people”; “Go To High School Go To High School Go To College”, Project Alpha, our partnership with Big Brother Big Sister program and march of babies (formerly march of dimes). And each year my undergraduate chapter and our graduate chapter gave out scholarships to African American students seeking to further their education in a university. With this and many other chapters like mine, we have surpassed that goal of 96 million dollars for our black community and have also impacted our future generations with hope for a better future.

    I was born in Nigeria, and lived there for the first 10yrs of my life, and often go back to visit. We africans also have events that are supposed to bring about an aristocratic air about them. I say this to say that the same events you complain about that are not of the black community are also done in the african culture. When we held Alpha balls and cotillions, they were meant to give the students a reason to put on their good clothes and have a good time. Not to have an aristocratic air about them.

    One of the Jewels was quoted in saying; “service before self.” I helped rebuild my chapter also. But Just because it was hard doesn’t mean my work for Alpha was complete. Or just because i don’t agree with everything within Alpha doesn’t mean i should abandon it also. I do my best to impact my organization and community as much as possible. That’s all i’m trying to ask of you. I understand your complaints with the MLK project and the struggles with your chapter…But what i can’t understand is why you are abandoning the frat when you feel it has lost its way…We are obligated as Alpha men to uphold the high standards of Alpha. So when we see it loosing its way, we are not supposed to jump ship…Rather we are supposed to fight to put it back on its path. Don’t you think that your argument as an active brother will be better received rather than just a critic who abandoned the organization?

    p.s.Are you willing to commit to the 96 million dollar challenge or not? but if you feel you have contributed to our community in another way that surpasses raising 90 million dollars please let me know.

    Comment by Olaniyi Akinsanya | Saturday, July 5, 2008 | Reply

  23. Thanks for the feedback Olaniyi Akinsanya,

    I’m glad you have such a high opinion of Alpha Phi Alpha. I’m glad they meet all of your community’s needs. However, I must say that the organization hasn’t met my community’s needs. I don’t see many initiatives here for black children here. Maybe if some of that ninety million dollars that’s going to build statues for Doctor King could be used to spread the organization’s message about a voteless people and about going to school. I guess we’ll never know.

    You’re from Nigeria! That helps to explain a lot. I have a brother in law from Nigeria. He’s got to be one of the most materialistic and status conscious people I’ve ever met. When I was in my ile studying the African spirituality of Ifa, I was severely disappointed with the majority of Orisa priest and priestesses that came to visit from Nigeria. My elders tried to instill in me an understanding that the traditions of Ifa, full of pomp and circumstance and all kinds of protocols and procedures, must be adhered to at all times in order to gain a complete understanding of the spirituality. But such talk was only talk. The Nigerians had lost their spirituality a long time ago and were a mere shadow of their former spirituality. The traditional Ifa worship was hijacked a long time ago by people whose main concern is now getting paid and enriching themselves.

    You say that the events that I complain about are now practiced in Nigeria. I’m not surprised. But if you look closely to my previous statement, I made a reference to African ancestors practicing rituals of European finery. I don’t consider anyone in Nigeria an ancestor. The infection of materialism and status that Alpha Phi Alpha suffers to build multi million dollar tributes to the past is probably the same infection that permeates through many parts of Africa today as well as many other parts of the world. The ones who have do well and the ones without would do well to get theirs.

    Every brother who joins the frat helps to build their chapter. I didn’t realize your chapter was down to one brother and you had to work hard just to rebuild your chapter as well. We share a lot in common. But where we differ most is a matter of priorities. You have a devotion to the frat that appears to go above and beyond mine. However, my devotion is geared more towards the black community in general. It’s good to see that Alpha Phi Alpha is meeting its goals. But the job is far from over. Why spend money on tributes to the past, rest our laurels on granite and marble and other fixtures that will continue to drain financial pockets with future maintenance needs, when there is so much more that needs to be done?

    Whether its ninety million or ninety six million dollars, I believe the fraternity’s goals are misguided and the money is wasted if it is not being used for the betterment of the black community. If you feel that being a member of such an organization is important to you I don’t have a problem with it. I hope you’re very happy. Obviously Alpha Phi Alpha is doing well with such devoted brothers such as yourself.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Saturday, July 5, 2008 | Reply

  24. When stated the different community service initiatives, they are made for the black children….”Go To High School Go To College”- is an initiative that gets the brothers out into the Black community…into the elementary, middle school, and high school students in the surrounding areas to promote black students going to college and being successful in their endeavors…The Big Brother big Sister Program is where we become mentors for little children that need people to look up to. Even though the program is specified just for black children, 90% of the children in the program are black. All of our Scholarships go to black children seeking to pursue their dreams of going to college. So to say you don’t see the initiatives here for black children lets me know that you haven’t researched any of these programs because they are all intended for the black children.

    It’s easy to promote the “A voteless people is a hopeless people program” All it requires is us going to the court house and picking up voter registration applications which are free, and then setting up a booth where people come and register to vote. Every year register hundreds of people to be able to vote.

    The next thing that i’m hoping my undergraduate chapter and the rest of Alpha part takes in is the 50 million pound challenge. There are plenty initiatives that doesn’t require 96 million dollars. It just requires a little bit effort and a goal in mind. Alpha set these programs this way because not all chapters in frat are in the best financial situation to provide that type of assistance.

    I stated my place of origin just as a reference to make my point, and not as a door for you to use insult it. The fact you don’t consider us part of your ancestry is a shame…yet you took it upon yourself to study our culture. You seek perfection in everything, but the reality is that perfection doesn’t exist(i.e. Nigeria, Alpha, the world).

    My chapter did not have one brother when i entered it, but we only had a handful of workers who shared the same goals. That’s all it takes to make a dream a reality.

    Our views on alpha are very different. It appears you have a lot of knowledge dealing with African American History, and the African Culture…yet you haven’t stated what you have done or plan to do to improve the current state of the black community. Alpha knows the job is far from over….that’s why embark on new goals each and every year for us to meet.
    Just because we are building the memorial does not mean we have abandoned our community. I do agree with you that the money could be better spent on improving the community. But i do feel the memorial will serve the black community also. It would be a constant reminder of the great things done by our late great brother…but more importantly, it would give us hope for a better future. The fact that we accomplished this goal will motivate us to push ahead with harder to reach goals than this. Who’s to say that we are not planning a 200 billion dollar program to improve the black community?

    If you reside in the Kansas City area, i encourage you to attended the national convention being held there from July 17-21….Come and see what the fraternity has become rather than being so judgmental about it. come and listen to the future goals the fraternity has set for itself and how we plan to accomplish them.

    Comment by Olaniyi Akinsanya | Sunday, July 6, 2008 | Reply

  25. Thanks for the feedback Olaniyi Akinsanya,

    But you might need to look up the word ancestor. defines ancestor as a person from whom one is descended; forebear; progenitor. I have descended from no one in Nigeria and no one there is my forebear or progenitor. I’m sorry if this information saddens you. But it is nevertheless a fact.

    By African ancestors, I make reference to my forebears who lived back on the continent free from the European influences like the pomp and circumstance of black tie debutante balls and evening gowns. The fact that you say that people in Africa now indulge in such events of European finery doesn’t surprise me considering my experience with Nigerians. Are you now saying that no one in Nigeria is materialistic? It is not intended as an insult. It is another indication of the extent of the European influence. Africa has been significantly damaged by white people’s influence.

    You consider me judgemental. The feeling is mutual. The biggest difference between us is that I have experienced Alpha Phi Alpha and I have decided first hand that it is not for me. You know little about me and feel entitled to judge me as a complainer. You challenge me to start a ninety million dollar fund. Why don’t you start a ninety million dollar fund?

    And for those who have not been paying attention, I did not leave Alpha Phi Alpha because the organization promotes wasting money on tributes to the past. I left Alpha Phi Alpha before the King Memorial was ever even considered. The King Memorial is just more confirmation that my choice to leave was the best one. At least it was for me. If you don’t approve then I must simply suffer your disappointment. I am not the first brother to leave the frat. I am sure I won’t be the last.

    Good luck in Kansas City.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Sunday, July 6, 2008 | Reply

  26. As a member of this phrat, there are some points that you have made that I do agree with, mostly because I know some chapters operate in ways that aren’t necessarily in the direction the overall fraternity is heading in. But, as a member of this phrat, your posts disturbs me. Not because you post comments that question the fraternity, but the way you posed them, you almost speak as an outsider of this fraternity, and lack any objectivity, because anyone involved with the fraternity, could tell you the positives and negatives, but like others have mentioned, it comes down to what kind of change YOU have worked to implement. Which all leads me to think that you aren’t an actual brother of Alpha Phi Alpha, and really just posing as one. Anyone could be a follower, but a true Alpha knows how to lead.

    Comment by Ape | Thursday, August 7, 2008 | Reply

  27. Thanks for the feedback Ape,

    “Anyone could be a follower, but a true Alpha knows how to lead.”

    I could not agree with your sentiment more. Which is why I refuse to let myself be led down the typical fraternal path of self indulgence and decided to do my own thing. You, like many other brothers, insist that the only change worth attempting is the change from the inside. It is rather ironic that you suggest that I follow the frat in order to lead the fraternity to changes. Alpha Phi Alpha has more than enough leaders ready to lead thank you very much. I don’t even want to follow the franternal politics necessary to acquire such a position of leadership.

    You are more than welcome to make your changes from the inside. I guess you’re one of those people who think it is useless to influence change in politics unless everyone becomes a politician. Such limited concepts of change are not worthy of a fraternity with claims of distinction. It is just more rhetoric to justify the tolerance of the status quo. Change can happen from within. Change can happen from without. Both can have powerful influence. Anyone can be led to believe that the only change worth making is the change from the inside.

    I have decided to follow a different direction. Most brothers of the frat will be content to ape the behavior you suggest and go along with the program and try to change the mindset of the entire fraternity. I have decided to follow a more realistic approach that is not built on a foundation of feeding our collective fraternity ego. One characteristic of leadership is the courage to do things differently than others.

    I may sound like an imposter. In some respects that would actually be a compliment. In my endeavor to put my college life and the fraternal spirit of Alpha Phi Alpha behind me, it would be inevitable that one day I might appear as an outsider. I must have succeded!

    Good luck demonstrating your leadership by following the safe path of change from inside the frat!


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Thursday, August 7, 2008 | Reply

    • I agree with your opening quote HOWEVER, i refuse to limit an ‘Alpha’ to just a fraternity. Men can be leaders, in my view; Alpha Phi Alpha only DEVELOPS, enhances and equips these leaders with helpful tools to exercise their leadership.

      Comment by Eugene | Friday, November 6, 2009 | Reply

  28. No, the only change worth attempting are the ones you criticize, otherwise its just complaining. I use the fraternity as a tool, and am fortunate to have positive minded individuals ready to work with me at the drop of a dime. As a leader of various organizations, both as an official, and as a general member, I have been given the privilege of having positive influence over people and communities. I find it humorous that you would create assertions that are baseless, and probably do nothing but ease your mind about your supposed decision. My suggestion to you, if you want to truly move on, complaining about the fraternity you say you joined and writing a blog about it, isn’t the way to go, unless that is your idea of doing things differently. I don’t know.

    Good luck whatever it is you do.

    Comment by Ape | Thursday, August 7, 2008 | Reply

  29. Ape,

    “No, the only change worth attempting are the ones you criticize, otherwise its just complaining.”

    I could say the same thing about you. The only changes I feel that are worth attempting are the ones that you criticize. Otherwise, it is you who are the one who is just complaining. You are a first hand example of a black and gold pot calling the kettle a complainer. Ask yourself, how much have you changed the fraternity? And I’m not talking about how much you’ve towed the line and carried out the fraternity’s agenda. I am asking about your ability to demonstrate your leadership and managed to change the frat’s course.

    You may use the fraternity as a tool. You may have found individuals who share your sentiment. I’m not surprised really. The frat has a lot of brothers who share your views. However, my thinking is a little more unique and is not shared by many individuals such as you. Hence, the reason for me to leave.

    “I find it humorous that you would create assertions that are baseless, and probably do nothing but ease your mind about your supposed decision.”

    You might find me amusing. However, the feeling is mutual. I find your typical response as a priviledged leader of the community amusing with your accusation that I have baseless assertions. You’re under some delusion that every brother has the same objectives and the same mindset and the same experience when they join. How could they not be happy with the path the fraternity has chosen for itself? You are a prime example of Alpha’s inability to change. You’re so wrapped up in the black and gold that you probably take any criticism of Alpha Phi Alpha personally. Sorry to hurt your feelings. But you need to face the fact that Alpha Phi Alpha isn’t for everybody.

    Thank you for your well wishes.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Thursday, August 7, 2008 | Reply

  30. You’re right about one thing, it isn’t for everybody

    Hopefully one day, you will let it go, good luck

    Comment by Ape | Friday, August 8, 2008 | Reply

  31. Ape,

    “You’re right about one thing, it isn’t for everybody. Hopefully one day, you will let it go…”

    I am correct about a number of things. And don’t worry about me. I have learned to let go of any overinflated sense of loyalty to Alpha a long time ago.

    Contrary to whatever you may think, Alpha Phi Alpha is not above criticism. Alpha is a prime example of the poor choices the black community continues to make with our limited resources. The frat would rather build ninety million dollar temples to the past than invest in the black community’s future. That’s not any form of leadership to be admired. If anything, it is a prime example of anchoring black people to history and, in an indirect way, reinforcing the need for the accumulation of huge amounts of materialism and wealth while others struggle.

    Hopefully one day, you too may learn to put it all in perspective and discover what is truly important for the entire black community. If you are fortunate, you too will learn to let go of your philosophy that can be summed up as you are either with us or against us. Please learn not to take it so personally. Learn to let go of that black and gold chip you are wearing on your shoulder.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Friday, August 8, 2008 | Reply

    • I have to LMAO @ this “feud” between you and Ape. I do wonder why Frat brothers take criticism of the frat personally, perhaps it is Love for the frat, perhaps it’s delusion. Anyone mind to clarify?

      Comment by Eugene | Friday, November 6, 2009 | Reply

  32. Criticism encourages reflection. And reflection, if done with humility and a genuine desire to assess and evaluate one’s course, leads to change, adjustment, reform, and, in some instances, revolution. Revolutionary change–whether individual or collective–is sometimes necessary in order to bring about a more productive reality. I say this to say, that you have every right as a “man” to severe your ties to Alpha Phi Alpha for your own personal reasons. Alpha Phi Alpha is not for everyone and everyone is not for Alpha Phi Alpha. Just as Alpha Phi Alpha can and has deemed men unworthy of membership, there are men who deem Alpha Phi Alpha unworthy of their participation, loyalty, or support. When we guard our “sacred cows” and dismiss criticism, we are playing a deadly game that leads to blind followership instead of progressive leadership. As a thinking man, I know of no organization or man that is beyond criticism. We must learn to embrace criticism in the spirit in which it is delivered. I find it small-minded to question a man’s past membership due to disagreement with the tone and content of the criticism put forth. I am not here to question whether you were a member of Alpha or not. That is neither here-nor-there. What is at issue is the points of criticism that are worthy of intellectual engagement. Your criticism of the monies being directed at building the King monument are valid and worthy of debate. I have had the opportunity to hear valid points on both sides of the issue. We need to focus on the issues and refrain from petty name-calling that diverts us from constructive dialogue.

    Comment by Rashid Fai'Sal | Thursday, August 14, 2008 | Reply

  33. Thanks for the feedback Rashid Fai’Sal,

    That was beautifully put. It is wonderful to experience a brother with some understanding. My decision to take a different path is not a criticism of the men of Alpha Phi Alpha at all. Mine is a personal choice to pursue another direction. However, I do understand some brothers perception that I am attacking the fraternity. Far from it.

    When I made the choice to pledge the fraternity I made the sacrifices to become part of the organization and do what I could to help the frat, help the college I was attending, and help the black community. However, years later and many decisions later, I decided to follow a different path. It didn’t work out. I suffer from no personal grudge against Alpha Phi Alpha.

    My criticism of the fraternity is not driven by some deep seated dramatic hatred. It is intended as an honest evaluation of the choice to be a beacon of the past instead of a leading star of the future. It is in this spirit that I make my comments. Hopefully, some brothers will reevaluate their relationship with the black community.

    Alpha is obviously fortunate to have such brothers as you.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Friday, August 15, 2008 | Reply

  34. BrotherPeaceMaker,

    Thank you for your commentary. I, too, agree that there are other uses that could be better served with $90M in the black community. I applaud your audacity to put “it” out there for all to see.

    I do, however, wish that you would consider returning to the “folds” of the fraternity. I understand that you do not particularly care for the polititics within the fraternity (quite frankly, neither do I), but I feel that you (along with others) would be a good base to start change within the fraternity.

    Change is only going to come about through “agitation”. While on the outside, brothers are ONLY going to see you as a complainer.

    I see that there are a lot of challenges being issued to you, therefore I may as well throw in mine… Help me (and many others) try to change the direction of the fraternity and make it more ” Servants of All”.

    Oh yeah…. I commend Brother Rashid Fai’Sal for his enlightful responses and for taking the “higher road” (not resorting to name-calling and personal attacks).


    Comment by W.E.B. | Sunday, August 24, 2008 | Reply

  35. Thanks for the feedback W.E.B.,

    Like Rashid Fai’Sal Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc. should consider itself lucky to have a brother like you in its membership list. I would enjoy returning to an organization that is sensitive to the needs of the black community. Unfortunately, I do not believe that is Alpha in its current manifestation. Like people who develop a relationship with a significant other thinking that their choice can change, I do not think it is a logical choice of action to return to an organization that appears so hellbent on behaviors that are somewhat detrimental to the black community. Are there many brothers who feel the need for change?


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Sunday, August 24, 2008 | Reply

  36. Man….. Very interesting article. I’m trying to learn and see if the Black Greek life is for me. I am a junior in college and all of my friends are in a greek organization. It’s funny too because I always have somebody random asking me what they need to do to join a frat….LOL…yeah exctly.. I’m not in one….. But like I just said ALL of my friends are in frats.. I just want to make sure and do my research before I forego the process.

    Comment by Panamajck | Monday, October 20, 2008 | Reply

  37. Thanks for the feedback Panamajck,

    If you are leaning to becoming a member of a Greek organization you will find no organization better than the black and gold. I may give my brothers a lot of static, but I do love my frat. The frat was very helpful in getting me through college. I’m rather disappointed that we can’t see more eye to eye on issues with respect to the black community. Nevertheless, good luck with your choice. Either way I wish you the best.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Monday, October 20, 2008 | Reply

  38. So someone explain to me proper reasons for wanting to join and become apart of alpha phi alpha.

    Comment by Quote | Tuesday, November 11, 2008 | Reply

    • This is TO BE made by YOURSELF.

      Comment by Eugene | Friday, November 6, 2009 | Reply

  39. Quote,

    There is no proper reason. You do it because it is something that appeals to you.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, November 12, 2008 | Reply

  40. I have browsed over your blog and subsequent responses with a bit of an outside perspective. I am a senior at an HBCU with a very healthy chapter that has a reputation for not being in line with most of the others. After conducting research, I found that the mission of Alpha Phi Alpha was very similar to many of the goals I would like to achieve in my life. I am very serious about helping those in my community, the black community, and think that even attempting to undergo the process as a senior would show that. I also know that senior intake is fairly low, and I understand that the bureaucracy behind a lot of it sometimes does not consider many individuals that believe in the organizations core beliefs. My question to any of the members, disgruntled or content, concerns the benefit of the intake process as an undergraduate compared to that of a possible intake in a graduate chapter. Are grad chapter members looked down upon by members that have gone through the undergraduate process? Without giving too much away, are the processes different in anyway? And lastly, do the opportunities in grad chapter lend themselves to the same opportunities of that of an undergraduate chapter? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    Comment by John | Sunday, November 23, 2008 | Reply

  41. The choice is entirely yours to make. But keep in mind, you do not need to join a fraternity to help the Black community. If you are waiting to until you join a fraternity to help the Black community, you may want to reconsider the “real reason” that you want to become a member of a fraternal organization. If you are serious about helping the Black community, do not participate in any activities–whether fraternal or not–that lend to not allowing you to achieve at the highest academic level during your senior year. Alpha Phi Alpha was developed to help Black men excell academically. It was also formed for the purpose of developing intelligent Black men capable of addressing the racism that the African American community was being subjected. If the chapter in which you are considering joining do not uphold these precepts and is known from “dragging Black students’GPAs” into the mud, you may want to give strong consideration as to whether or not such an organization is “worthy” of your time, talent and resources.

    Comment by Rashid | Monday, November 24, 2008 | Reply

  42. I think you misinterpreted the focus of my question a bit. I have already begun to and will continue to help my community in a number of ways. My commitment to that will never change. As for the “real reason” for joining, it would be naive to not consider the social aspects of joining any fraternal organization. The definition of which explains that they are primarily social clubs for men. I was merely identifying a characteristic that I felt was noteworthy. In an attempt to redirect my focus let me restate my questions.

    My question to any of the members, disgruntled or content, concerns the benefit of the intake process as an undergraduate compared to that of a possible intake in a graduate chapter. Are grad chapter members looked down upon by members that have gone through the undergraduate process? Without giving too much away, are the processes different in anyway? And lastly, do the opportunities in grad chapter lend themselves to the same opportunities of that of an undergraduate chapter? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    Comment by John | Monday, December 1, 2008 | Reply

  43. Thanks for the feedback John,

    But doesn’t the answer of your question depend on the person you ask? I understand that you’re probably trying to get a general sense of attitude. But what does it really matter? Do you really value the opinions of others in a social club that much? I say ask not who looks down on you. Ask what you can do for the black community. A bit of tongue in cheek but the point is the same nevertheless.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, December 2, 2008 | Reply

  44. For starters, Alpha Phi Alpha is not a social club. It is a fraternity. A fraternity is a society of college men formed for a common purpose. A social club is an organization or place for people to enjoy themselvles. There is a fundamental difference between a social club and a fraternity. All fraternal societies have a “social aspect” but this is not the primary purpose of their origin nor should it be the primary purpose for which a person should seek membership. Before a person considers membership in any fraternal organization, they must have a thorough understanding of the purpose of the organization. As stated previously, A Phi A was created for very specific purposes. Whether you choose to seek membership on the graduate or undergraduate level is entirely a personal decision. As to the differences in the process, it is very hard to say. Speak with members at both levels and then make a decision based on what you think is best. I will say this: If a person thinks getting their &%#2& whipped is what makes one a “real Alpha” then they are only Alpha in name and not in spirit!!!

    Comment by Rashid | Wednesday, December 24, 2008 | Reply

  45. To all,

    The comments posted on this page are deeply engaging and thought provoking. I feel that it is necessary for all young men who consider the route of Alpha Phi Alpha, or any other Greek organization, to be privy to this sort of discussion.

    After personal deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that, whatever we do, we must serve as role models for those that we wish to lead. I stumbled across a great quote in another forum and I would like to share it:

    “Greatness is in being, never in becoming”

    Good luck to each individual in his endeavors.

    Comment by Curious Observer | Thursday, April 16, 2009 | Reply

    • Hey, I know this is an old post but do you mind telling me what forum you got this from?

      Comment by dejavu | Sunday, January 31, 2010 | Reply

  46. These comments were very intriguing. I too, am pondering whether I should seek induction into a Grad chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha; I am currently a junior. The chapter here does not have a good reputation (undergrad chapter); Most of them are not in school, have very low GPAs. I am a student of high achievement, and I do not want to waste time going through a pledge process that will lower my GPA and not be worth it. However, my school has a Grad chapter, much better than the undergrad. My question now is, if I joined the Grad chapter will I be looked down upon? Will I then be considered “paper” opposed to “made”? I love my education, and I am imbued with Alpha Phi Alpha in my spirit and heart; thus, I don’t feel like being beaten will make me love my fraternity any better. What do you guys think?

    Comment by Charles | Tuesday, April 21, 2009 | Reply

  47. The only way that a person can look down upon you is if you look down upon yourself. Alpha is about academic achievement, leadership in your chosen profession, and service and advocacy to your community, most especially the African American community. YOur decision to join an undergraduate or a graduate chapter should be based on these standards. Now if a person wants to look down on you because they feel that you were not “made right,” then that becomes their choice. In regards to beating I must say plain and simple that slavery ended with the Emancipation Proclamation, Civil War, 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, and so forth. If being beaten causes one to love their fraternit the more,then I guess it becomes to proper to “beat the hell” out of our wives, girlfriends, and children in order to make them love us more. This is silly and rather antiquated from my perspective. Once again, it becomes your decision to decide what works for you. If you already have the spirit of Alpha in your heart, then it matters little what others may think of you. Continue your journay if you believe Alpha is right for you.

    Comment by Rashid | Tuesday, April 21, 2009 | Reply

  48. Well said Rashid,

    But let me add…

    Why would you want to join an organization that you feel would look down upon you. If you don’t feel that your membership to any organization will be one built on mutual respect and trust then what’s the point of joining? In an organization as large as Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc., there are bound to be brothers who will be jerks and will try to belittle brothers who didn’t come through the hard way, or more appropriately, the dumb way. Do not judge Alpha on the behavior of a few but from an overall perspective of the fraternity as a whole. Whatever decision you make, good luck.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, April 22, 2009 | Reply

  49. Thanks to all. To clear some things up; I do not feel as though Alpha as a whole will look down upon me. However, what I do know is there is this tension. If you go through the grad chapter or you choose not to go through and undergrad “made” process; thus, resulting into dislike. Why? Moreover, I know a lot of students, who after they crossed ovrer their grades dropped dramatically. I am very serious about my grades; Have you guyd heard of such, where after you have pledged undergrad and ones grades decline? Also, why do some individuals say instead of going through the legitimate intake process,wrhere is done at the national level, one should go through their chapter’s
    process? Again, thanks for your prior comments. And thoughts and comments on this will be very helpful.

    Comment by Charles | Wednesday, April 22, 2009 | Reply

  50. In my view, it is better for you to go through the legally sanctioned process. You did not create the “tension” between those who advocate the in-take process through nationals–which, in truth, is the only legally sanctioned process, and those who advocate a “pledge” process, which usually takes place on an udergraduate level, albeit illegally. If you want legal recognition as an Alpha, the in-take process is the only way. If you are interested in gaining recognition from a set men who will only acknowledge you as an Alpha if you go through the “pledge” process then, I guess, you would have to submit to this avenue–although, by doing so, you are also participating in a non-sanctioned activity. But, at the end of the day, I must agree that any organization that is not built on trust, genuine brotherhood, and the like is a waste of your damn time–especially if it requires you to all of sudden become stupid (e.g., falling grade point average). In other words, follow your “mother wit” when you make your decision. If you trust your better instincts, the choice is simple. I always choose that which gives, broadness and/or expands my life; not that which takes away from my life. The choice is simple.

    Comment by Rashid | Tuesday, April 28, 2009 | Reply

  51. First I just have to communicate how much it lifts my heart to see intelligent black men engage in a debate to bring about enlightenment, it is a practice that has long been forgotten and substituted for fist-fights and name calling.

    That being said I want to join this debate myself. I am a rising sophomore and initially thought greek life was not for me. Like some of you I find my thinking to be radical and I could not bear to have someone try to curb my thoughts to fall in line with “the chapter”. However I am at a predominately white institute and so I am easily seen and recognized. Several members have approached me about greek life and i declined, but I thought it unwise to merely reject something I knew nothing about. So i have done research and find that frats are not just what I had seen on campus. Alphas espescially are men of distinction. Lately I have been considering pledging not because of the social aspect because personally I am not the party type but because of what the org stands for. How ever this discussion has called things into question for me.

    I guess my principal concern is one of what is this thing we call Alpha Phi Alpha? Is the mission truly to develope leaders, promote brotherhood and academic excellence, while providing service and advocacy for our communities? If so that’s what I need. I want to part of something that will radically change this world for the better. But at the same time I see peace’s logic that it has lost sight of it’s true intentions.

    Just one more thing. I feel the call to lead and I know I am a born leader. But if the org is so lost in the wilderness part of me wants to not just write them off. If the verdict comes back that Alpha is lost then a huge chunk of me would want to pledge even more. Peace as you said the same way they kind of write off the black community to ignore them would be to write off a large piece of the black community as well. Over 175,000 worth.

    Please comment back I’m excited for this discussion.

    Comment by Called toLead | Friday, June 5, 2009 | Reply

    • Interesting, I am a Sophomore as well.
      Is your interest in Alpha for “recognition”? The Fraternity’s mission is just that – as you stated. However I suggest YOU be the change you seek in the community. It is NOT about what Alpha can do for you but what YOU can do for Alpha.

      Comment by Eugene | Friday, November 6, 2009 | Reply

  52. Greetings all

    I come from a different path. As a current student in undergrad coming into my junior year I am coming into a moment of intellectual and spiritual enlightenment. I am as a proponet for racial justice, equality, and the pursuit to see and maintain the humanity of others (regardless of color or group). I also come from a different breed. I rejected BGLO’s the moment I became a freshmen because the black greek affiliated men on campus are some fools (no offense). So I pursued a non-NPHC organization and was successful in becoming a member of a fraternity not considered BGLO. I love my current org but they don’t fulfill my need to uplift the black community and advocate for social justice. As I began my intellectual vocation (by reading books, essays, and interview texts) I realized that most, if not all, of the authors in my arsenal are members of Alpha Phi Alpha. Then my mind began to open and be receptive the perspective of the values and principles of Alpha. I know my intellectual worth and I am passionate for the furtherance of humanity, particularly the black community. I have reviewed extensively the requirements, have become well versed in the history, and (to what I can find) the traditions of Alpha. I am well rounded, registered voted, my resume is extensive, and I am of good character. I have already proven committment and a stick-to-it-ness through the many organizations and my academic background. I know individuals who were not members of NPHC (in my org as well as others) who have become members. They have a dual membership in both organization: a NPHC and a non-NPHC. My question is has there been members who have successfully joined Alpha Phi Alpha who have membership in other organizations that have intake processes? are they put through a more griveous process? Would one need to denounce one org to be in your org? Finally, because the chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha at my school is suspended for undetermined time (they won’t be back till the 2020’s) it is obvious that my only option is through the grad chapter – even if I wanted to do it when I came in they were already suspended. My question is are the intake officers aware of the time constraints of research needed to complete a thesis/dissertation during the process?

    Comment by cornel | Monday, June 22, 2009 | Reply

    • Hi,
      I’m glad and supportive of the fact you are attaining a level of enlightenment. What organization are you currently a part of? Is it a fraternity (in what sense)? What sort of fraternity
      I believe there are certain restrictions in holding dual membership in organizations.

      Comment by Eugene | Friday, November 6, 2009 | Reply

  53. Hello-

    I am a student at Morehouse College and thinking about joining Alpha Phi Alpha. I did not have a great experience as an undergrad at another university but am wondering what your thoughts are?


    Comment by andre | Monday, August 17, 2009 | Reply

  54. Pledging any fraternity, (Any) should be done because you want to, not because you think it will get you girls, and parties. When Alpha Phi Alpha started in 1906, it was an opportunity to bring young men together who were like minded individuals, men who wanted to achieve an education, men who wanted to give back to society, these principles are still being applied today. We (men) sometimes don’t finish school, drop out due to drugs, alcohol, new borns, etc… Having an opportunity to see individuals of great worth, with higher learning a God given right has allowed many of my brothers the ability to continue on their paths, not be swayed by outside influences and achieve their dreams. I am an Alpha, but it doesn’t define the man I am today, it is one of the building blocks that I remember that sometimes will allow me to complete a task or endeavor. That pledge period is something I would never go through again, but at the same time, I am glad I was able to endure, because it allowed me to know that I can make it under any circumstances. I am a former Marine, active father and husband, member of a Church, son of a minister, and know right from wrong… and yes I could have done all of that without belonging to a Fraternity, but at 18,19 yrs of age, I had no clue if school was right for me, nor what I wanted to do at that point in my life. Thank God that Alpha Phi Alpha was there, because it helped ME get to this point in my life where I am truly satisfied with the Man I have become.

    Comment by Adrain Parker | Tuesday, November 10, 2009 | Reply

  55. Someone needs to publish this.. it reminds me of the letter from birmingham jail and the opposition letter that caused Dr. King to initially write the letter. We have come so far as a People…I’m currenly a senior and i was about to undergo the Alpha process (in which my purpose for joining was lucid) but something was holding me back. after reading this, i now understand that Alpha is more than just a greek letter and it has created some type of enlightenment of issues that have somehow gone unnoticed until now(well, not “now” i guess cuz I just read it. Its funny that the gentleman’s name is peacemaker when he is deliberately disturbing the Peace!) Regardless of whether someone reads this or not, i feel that peacemaker has fulfilled his purpose with this blog. although i accidently stumbled on to this pg, i did some research about MLK and i thought, would an Alpha man actually beat/discourage MLK whether mentally/physically? would he want a statue of himself? Although MLK’s connection was a huge reason of why i considered to be part of the organization, it was not my sole purpose but i still pondered that thought. I found that he became an Alpha after he graduated from Morehouse and went to a penn and boston college to pursue higher doctoral studies. He was part of the sigma chapter which includes students that pursue studies from boston u. Why did he not become an alpha at morehouse? did they not have a chapter then? Anyway, i mention this to state that my reasons for joining have now changed and that there are other options to be an Alpha man, and it is soon to that time when i must make a clear decision. I know it is my own, but i am leading to the point that joining does not have to be the way i thought it should be..

    Thank you for this blog, it has truly inspired me
    God Bless

    Comment by dejavu | Friday, January 29, 2010 | Reply

  56. Brother I have seen others like you. From your story it sounds as if you did not recieve a positive collegiate experience of Alpha Phi Alpha and most likely Alpha or any fraternity period was not meant for you to be apart of. To this i would say just simply return your shingle back to the international headquarters and renounce your letters. Trust me you would not be the first nor the last brother to do so. Being that you still consider your self a non-active member there is obviously something about Alpha Phi Alpha that has a meaning or a hold for you. If this is true then I encourage you to explore that “IT” factor and find out what exactly that may be. I would much rather have renounced brother than a inactive brother who is disgusted by the fraternity and speaks of the negativity rather than the positive.I t almost reminds me of the perspective people have of HBCU;s they constantly speak of the negative and never acknowledge the good or the significance and importance they have played in history and american society.- just food for thought “open your eyes/mind”

    Fraternally jeremy in texas

    Comment by jeremy | Thursday, August 19, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback jeremy,

      “…I would much rather have renounced brother than a inactive brother who is disgusted by the fraternity…”

      I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I’m really not here to get your approval. I’d much rather have Alpha Phi Alpha truly represent the black community instead of being beholden to the ideas that promote an air of elitism and self importance. When I pledged the fraternity I was told I would be an Alpha for life. And that I do believe. And whether or not I’m a brother that renounced the fraternity or an inactive brother of the fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha will still be whatever it is. The members of this fraternity have the ability to shape it exactly as they see fit. Unfortunately, the obvious goals of the fraternity do not reflect my values and I would like to say as much. Whether or not brothers such as yourself agree or disagree is not my concern.

      Thanks for the food for thought. But my thinking has enjoyed much better meals.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Thursday, August 19, 2010 | Reply

  57. Is there a way I can get your email address? .. I would like to talk to you about a few things. I really enjoyed your article.

    Comment by Jae | Wednesday, December 29, 2010 | Reply

    • I’m a former member of Phi Beta Sigma and I share your sentiment. There is nothing African about black greek letter organizations. It subjugates people at a subconscious level. Our ancestors are somewhere ashamed at the very thought. FYI: a sphinx is not African…it is greek. The very term itself is greek. The symbolism behind “crossing the burning sands” is that of the Greeks/Romans crossing the desert into Africa to conquer African people and steal their knowledge. Greek letters around on the chest of a person of African descent is the equivalent of a Jewish man wearing a swastika pendant. I’m all for brotherhood…it’s very much needed, but not at the expense of my culture and heritage.

      Comment by Marcus-Kwabena | Monday, April 4, 2011 | Reply

      • Everything stated, I completely agree 100%.
        One thing you will quickly learn as Chuck D from the group Public Enemy stated, (Every Brother ain’t a Brother) Although sad but, true.

        Comment by BlackExplotation | Friday, September 13, 2013

  58. Brothers, similar to the comment earlier, you are entitled to your own opinion and I’m not here to change it. As to the following comments, you cannot label every Orginization, chapter, or even individuals as being poor representation of Blacks. That does nothing but divide us even more. Of course, many men and women have joined these orginizations but each case/person joins for different reasons. I am a Brother of Alpha Phi Alpha, as I noticed in your post, I have yet to experience any feeling of “copying.” Alpha Phi Alpha was brought about to bring together the Black students, that were at Cornell, to support a common cause. You experienced “bougy” programs and events hosted by your chapter etc. That’s to blame on the individuals for straying from the main purpose of a fraternity, not the name. I have yet to witness any presence wishing to stray from the main goal of a Black orginization in my experience. My chapter is devoted to helping out the community in every way, shape or form. Yes, we have some brother’s and sister’s who’s motives may not be the same as the founder’s, but, also noted earlier, we still unite under a common goal. Brother’s before you label entire orginizations as such things, try getting to know each and every individual who wears those letters, because ot them it means more than a character in the greek alphabet.
    Thank you,
    Fraternally, Bob J. McNeil

    Comment by Bob J. McNeil | Wednesday, May 4, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback Bob J. McNeil,

      You are most correct, I should not be generalizing the organization. I should exercise more care and say that the majority of people I have met affiliated with the organization exhibit the characterizations I describe. With any entity of people there will always be the chance for exceptions.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, May 4, 2011 | Reply

  59. I would first like to thank you for writing such an interesting piece. Being that I am far younger than you and many of the people that have commented on this piece, I find it very interesting how many people of the generations before mine have come to shape their feelings on Greek life and our community as a whole. I am not affiliated with any organization up to this point in my college career. Alpha Phi Alpha has been a goal of mine for some time now and I will hopefully become one a member of such a great organization. Understanding the goals and values of this organization have only been a small part of what has driven me to want to become a part of such a great brotherhood. No man should ever let any organization define who he is but instead he should define that organization. As a whole I see Alpha Phi Alpha as the best because of what it has done not only for me but for our community. I do not need it to define the type of man that I am developing into. This organization instead is a way for me to surround myself with men who may have traveled down the same path and can steer me in a path that would lead me to greater success. Any proud African American can see that our community is struggling. But what better way to help guide a struggling people, than organizing a group of like minded individuals who all embody the idea of a better tomorrow. I love all people but especially my people, and with that I will say that regardless of any organization affiliation that I may have in the future, I will better everyone around me. Our community’s success doesn’t hinge on the activities of Alphas, or Omegas or any other organization. It instead is controlled by the generations of today instilling rules learned and failures endured into the generations of tomorrow, and to me Alpha is just one of the many ways for me to do this. I hope this gave a good change in pace to the many new brothers that you may have seen that do not embody or display what it is that such a great fraternity offers.

    Comment by ProudYoungBuck | Wednesday, October 5, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback ProudYoungBuck,

      It is obvious that you are a man of intellect, thoughtfulness, and of great character. Any organization would be that much greater with your affiliation. Regardless of your choice, I am sure you will choose what is right for you and what is right for your community and that which is important to you. As a former member of Alpha Phi Alpha, I was merely writing what I felt at the moment I wrote the article as well as how I felt about my experience with the fraternity. In the end, although I will always be grateful for my experience with the organization, my future was elsewhere. The push for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial only confirmed my choice. However, I have to disagree with you that our community’s success doesn’t hinge on the activities of any organization. The future of our community very well hinges on the activities of organizations affiliated with that community. For example, the civil rights era that was such a boon for the black community could not have happened without the concerted efforts of a great many organizations affiliated with the black community. It did not happen in a vacuum. It would not have happened without people coming together to work hard and sacrifice for that particular goal. We need organizations to help push our community’s agenda and our organizations should reflect that agenda of they are to reflect the needs, wants, and desires of the community. When an organization becomes irrelevant to the community’s cause, an organization like Alpha Phi Alpha which claims to focus on community service, its purpose for being should be reexamined by its members, especially the ones who are still focused on the community.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Thursday, October 6, 2011 | Reply

  60. I like your post and agree with majority of what you stated. I have seen it in not only Alpha Phi Alpha, but I have seen it in all the fraternities and sororities. I believe a brother of yours mentioned above, it is an individual’s personal duty to seek change if things are not the way it should be. I have seen some of these very things you speak of in my own sorority…however with each organization I tell every one the same thing: Every Chapter is NOT the same. My home chapter was on the up and coming and is doing very well at my former HBCU. I transferred to a school where the undergraduate chapter there is actually the ONLY Black Greek Lettered Organization there, and it is not an HBCU.

    One solution would be for you to become a graduate member and be an adviser to your undergrad chapter. Get things rolling the way it should be, start that domino effect. My line got the ball rolling slowly at first at our home chapter and now they are progressing wonderfully. I also helped with an Alpha Chapter at a non-traditional school and they are doing great.

    I’m sorry that your undergraduate experience was not what you hoped it to be. I am sure you chose Alpha over the others for some reason….check back on that and go forward. And you are also right about one other thing: Sigmas take in everybody, no discrimination of any kind that i have yet to see with my own eyes.

    Take Care & Blessings on Your Endeavors,

    A Lady of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

    Comment by Tori | Friday, November 4, 2011 | Reply

  61. First and foremost, I commend you on your post….and, yea I’m an Alpha, Legacy 5 generations to be exact. But, to stay on course: what you discuss of your experiences is not uncommon. An you should not be verbally penalized for expressing sentiments of what you have undergone.
    We often affix the term juxtapose to those within this organization who so not hold themselves to standards set by the founders, the Jewels. And, this issue of racial bigotry among our own is utterly infuriating.
    I truly believe our founders would truly condemn such atrocities. Were not founders and Jewels Callis, Chapman, Kell, men with dark skin men? Yes, they certainly were. I highly doubt when the by laws were established, such self hatred and racial rhetoric were non existing as-well.
    I truly challenge members of our fraternal bond to daily remind ourselves, Am I my brother’s keeper? What does this deeply mean to you? Certainly, we realize that the work does not end after we have left our undergraduate years behind.
    What this brother spoke was his truth, and this requires intestinal fortitude, every Alpha should know of very damn well.
    Do I love Alpha Phi Alpha? Hell yes, within my heart and soul. This November my other 9 line brothers and I will proudly celebrate 20 years in the fold. Some, I’m not so close with and others absolutely. But, I continue to reach out and extend myself to those with whom are less amicable. I can agree that there is much internal and external growth needed within the organization and to give new members much needed guidance beyond what occurs at the collegiate level. If you take nothing from my words, heed what I say in that you be the change and force in your professional life, just like your Fraternal bond. A spark can ignite a wildfire. And, there is strength in numbers my Dear Brothers.

    May God Bless you

    Comment by BlackExplotation | Friday, September 13, 2013 | Reply

  62. Brother Peace maker, I do hope you receive thus message in good favor. I completely agree with you. People, please look take a look at your comments. This Brother gave you pertinent and real examples of the redundancies that occurred during his affiliation and which still occur: case in point a so called Black fraternity that discriminates against it’s own members with darker pigment or skin, another writer mentioned the subjugation, and senseless fighting over turf or campus yard, or simply because you belong to fraternity B and I belong to A.
    If I were to make a lifetime commitment to any entity, how do these things translate to anything good and enable African-American progress? Help me out here, anyone?
    One member argued, the oath you took. Are not these entities of free will to join? Then why is it necessary that he formally denounce his membership or affiliation?
    Brother Peace maker, I hold the same regards and there are a vast amount of others who found enlightenment elsewhere.
    Hold the Light high, in spreading true knowledge: in business, education, law, medicine, etc. to black men, women, and children.
    I believe this is what your founders desired for members of your fraternities and sororities .

    Comment by Sankofa | Friday, September 13, 2013 | Reply

  63. Joining a greek lettered organization is a life long commitment. That is, if you are truly joining for the right reasons. I have been a member of Phi Beta Sigma since Fall ’91. Of all the black fraternities, we by far, receive the most criticism and ridicule. For many years, I began to regret the decision I made to join Sigma. But, after attending Homecoming at Morehouse College a few years ago, the bond and brotherhood I felt with my frat brothers was as strong as ever. Many of my college buddies had joined Omega via various grad chapters. Most of them would not even join the Psi chapter Omegas under the Omega tent. My college room-mate who pledged Omega via grad, spent very little time under the Que tent. And all of it was testing and no bonding. Now that my identity in life comes from being a father, a husband, an IT professional and a man who can appreciate the varieties of life….Phi Beta Sigma is the only choice for me.


    Comment by Will | Monday, October 7, 2013 | Reply

  64. I’m 47 years of age and would love to join the Alpha Phi Alpha here in Fayetteville NC how would I do that please let me know Sincerely your Eriq McDonald…

    Comment by Eriq | Friday, January 17, 2014 | Reply

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