Alpha Phi Alpha Accepts Obama’s Challenge
Throughout President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, he insisted that his meteoric rise to the White House was not about him, but that it was about everyday citizens making a change in their communities, large and small. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the oldest Black fraternity, has enthusiastically accepted that challenge with the recent inauguration of noted author and historian Herman “Skip” Mason as its 33rd General President on January 24.
“This is an historic moment for America, and for Alpha. In the same week, America inaugurated Barack Obama as its 44th president; I have the honor of being inaugurated as the 33rd General President to lead Alpha,” said Mason.
And lead is exactly what Mason intends on doing, as Alpha Phi Alpha plans to reach out to young Black boys as mentors and role models, in an attempt to lead them down the correct path in life.
“Organizations like Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, as with (every Black fraternity and sorority), have unique opportunities to continue to be vessels of stewardship, to help change our situations, predicaments, and ultimately our country, and our world,” said Mason. “Just because we have Obama in the White House doesn’t mean we should sit back, relax, and say everything is now finally gonna be alright.”
Truthfully, the statistics show that everything is far from alright when it comes to young Black boys. Whether it is incarceration rates, the rising number of HIV and AIDS cases, unemployment and low graduation rates, the Black fraternity has made saving young Black males as it major public policy initiative for the next four years.
This effort began during the inauguration ceremony, as more than 3,000 Alpha members attended the educational symposium, “Alpha Phi Alpha on the Road Less Traveled: Guiding our boys from the High Chair to High School and on to College.” The symposium, which was the launch of this ambitious initiative, has already received the support of the National Educational Foundation, Schott Foundation for Public Education as well as FedEx.
“I love it, because it speaks to our young Black boys. I have sons, so the symposium resonated with me, because we must help our young men,” said Dennis Kemp, Sr., Eastern Region Vice President of the fraternity.
Notable fraternity members who attended the event included civil rights leader Andrew Young, Marc Morial from the National Urban League, actor Hill Harper, journalist Roland Martin and Randal Pinkett, former winner of TV’s Apprentice.
Morial urged, “Skip Mason, make America hear you. Hear about the plight of Black boys, the completion of the MLK Project, and the importance of young Black folks being prepared for college.”
Many of the members are excited about Mason’s tenure because of his dedication to service. “This inauguration puts us on a road to greater service. Service is the rent one pays for the space occupied. We want to pay our rent,” said Ozell Sutton, 26th General President of Alpha Phi Alpha.
Furthermore, service is what is needed if President Barack Obama’s dream of change ever comes to fruition.
Cornelius is a writer for Regal Black Men’s Magazine.