As I attend the 80th Grand Chapter Meeting celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, I thought it important to share briefly on both the importance and uniqueness of African-American Fraternities. Let me first say that the same could be written about African-American Sororities as well (My wife is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta).
Many of my non African-American friends think that’s it’s somewhat strange that I still wear my fraternity colors and letters, as well as attend monthly local chapter meetings. When I moved from Minnesota to California last year, one of the first things that I did was make contact with the local chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi. Why would I do this at 41 years of age and having graduated from undergrad almost 20 years ago? This is what makes African-American Fraternities both important and unique.
Kappa Alpha Psi was founded on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana in 1911. A small group of African-American men on a predominately White campus in the heart of Klu Klux Klan country at the time. Graduating with a college degree and founding a fraternity focusing on the achievement and success of African-American males was no small feat. A strong faith in God thru Jesus Christ was an important part of the development of the fraternity (Though there are members today who have lost sight of this).
Though I didn’t face the same type of racism as the founders, I found myself on a college campus in Central Minnesota in the fall of 1988, as one of only seven African-Americans on the whole campus. Faith in God and a deep bond with the small community of other African-Americans got me thru to graduation. One important relationship was with Lee Lindsey Jr. He is now a member of Alpha Phi Alpa Fraternity.
During my undergrad years I would go to the Twin Cities to attend parties on the campus of the University of Minnesota. When I first saw the Kappas, I was drawn to them. Sharp dressers, business minded, and smooth with the ladies. I have to admit, that was my first attraction to them. I should have fully entered the process then, but it was difficult to commute back and forth during the week from St. John’s University in Collegeville to the Twin Cities and keep up my grades.
Years later as a husband, father, and pastor, I found myself attracted to the Kappas for other reasons. I saw a group of educated and successful African-American men tutoring boys in the public schools, raising money for college scholarships, volunteering at the Special Olympics, and talking about the importance of church membership. This time I would make the necessary sacrifices to become a member of this special organization. It was not easy, but well worth it. And I need to say, I never compromised who I am in Christ.
Today in the Oakland Area I’m still very involved in Kappa. Volunteering in elementary schools, raising scholarship dollars, and helping at-risk youth. These are a few reasons why African-American fraternities are important.