I was never really the super Greek type. You will rarely find me in pictures with Alpha Phi Alpha gear. You will rarely see me taking photographs throwing up the Alpha sign unless it is a group Greek picture, and usually, I am dragged into the picture. Alpha Phi Alpha for me has a deeper meaning, a meaning that I have never shared before. I became an Alpha in the spring of my junior year of college. Like many HBCU graduates Greek life was a huge part of the college experience. It wasn’t about the partying, the strolling, the perks that many college young men received by being in a fraternity. Now do not get me wrong; those things were attractive, but that wasn’t what I wanted. What I wanted was something more profound. I was inspired by something bigger: something that was not surface level, but a burning desire deep inside that I could not quite figure out.
I was going into my junior year where I felt a change, and I felt myself thinking and inquiring about things differently. Then, I settled into what I wanted. Teaching was what I wanted to do; however, it was not just about teaching. It was about making an impact. I wanted to study leaders and those who have made a difference. When I learned Martin Luther King was an Alpha, I thought that was pretty cool. It would be an honor to be in the same fraternity as Martin Luther King. I had recently learned about Paul Robeson in one of my college courses. He was also an Alpha. Thurgood Marshall was another famous black man that I was studying because he was a prominent voice in the landmark education court case Brown vs. Board. For me, Alpha seemed like the right choice. It was, but what would happen after that decision changed my life forever.
Spring 2009, I become a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated Delta Xi chapter at Central State University. I was the two on the line of 14 A.P.E.S. I enjoyed the rest of that junior school year being an Alpha. I took full advantage of all the perks. It was that summer that Alpha made an impact on me. Being an Alpha was about developing leaders, promoting brotherhood, and championing academic excellence. The organization targeted all of those goals while also providing service and advocacy for the community in which we lived. The motto was powerful: First of All, Servants of All, We Shall Transcend All. The three aims of Alpha that would go on to shape me as an educator were: Manly Deeds, Scholars, and Love for All Mankind.
Manly Deeds: This is about sending the elevator back down, reaching a hand back, being my brother’s keeper, and uplifting others as I climb and never tear down my fellow man. Alpha taught me as an educator that my students needed a hand to pull them along. It was through Alpha and the aim of Manly Deeds that my dreams and aspirations no longer became selfish. They were selfless, and they were about the greater good. As an educator, I was about how can I be better, do better, expect better, and inspire better. I owed it to my fellow man to carry my weight and be there as support if they could not carry their own.
Scholarship: Scholarship was about living up to the academic excellence of the fraternity. I knew then how important school was. It was about the growth of self-knowledge and development. I wanted to develop into a well-rounded person that not only had the academic capacity but the social awareness and understanding. Because of Alpha, I was motivated to learn about the history of blacks in America. My love and desire to go deep into African American studies to better understand the struggles that our people went through for the simple luxuries that we enjoy today came from them. For blacks, back then, it was hard and a matter of life or death. I hungered for that knowledge; I had a thirst for that understanding. It gave me a different perspective. The luxuries I was afforded was not always easy in my generation for others. I was fortunate to receive a quality K-12 education that allowed me the opportunity to attend college and advance myself, but there many black kids especially black boys who did attend a decent school with teachers who cared. That lack of quality education trapped them in their reality, and they did not have a future. The scholarship aim of Alpha motivated me to be that educator that would expose my students to luxuries I was afforded.
Love for All Mankind: This is the strongest of the three Aims in my opinion. In education, you encounter many different types of people. This was about the love for your students regardless of their background or who they are. This is a hard one because naturally, we struggle with those that we feel are different. The reason is that we see the difference as something that we do not understand, so instead of understanding it we dismiss it. Alpha made me a better educator because they taught me that differences were merely about the unknown. It was good to surround yourself with different people because it opens your life to something new. As an educator, my love for All Mankind motivates me to teach my students the same thing. Even if I disagree with something or someone that does not mean I cannot have a love for them. A brother is a brother regardless of who they are or what they are.
“We must never lose sight of the fact that we must take part in the development, not only of ourselves but of all humanity.”Jewel Charles Henry Chapman