|From the Desk of Herman "Skip" Mason
Iota Chapter, Spring 82(Morris Brown College/Atlanta,
Eta Lambda Chapter since 1984
Historian, Pastor, Author, Entrepreneur and Lecturer
READ IT, SAVE IT, COPY IT, FILE IT, FORWARD IT,
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THE SPIRIT OF THE FRATERNITY
Vol. 1. No. 32 - Thursday, June 22, 1999
Hope you had a great weekend. My weekend with my father at his 50th
Class Reunion in Jacksonville, Florida was a blessing! Of course, there
was an Alpha in his class from Albany, Georgia, Brother Price. I
know some of you were wondering why SHM did not greet you this morning.
I am in revival at the church that I pastor and the lateness of the hour
last evening prevented me from completing this. Apologies for any typos.
Did not get this too my editor because of the time. Nevertheless,
here it is. We are getting closer to Dallas. Saw my cover and dust jacket
for the book. God just continues to move in a magnificent way. I
am excited. You better believe it! By the way, I will be in Huntsville,
Alabama this Sunday as the guest speaker for the
Cumberland Presbyterian Church Men's Day program at 11:00. Hope to
see some of the great Huntsville Brothers (including my line brother David
Smith). This past January I spoke at their huge M.L. King Breakfast and
was treated royally by the brotherhood. It was at a luncheon following
the program where we ran into Gospel Artist Kirk Franklin who revealed
to us his desire of wanting to be an Alpha when he was in college. Well,
we made Lionel Richie.....At any rate, have a blessed day and enjoy the
powerful words of one my favorite Jewels, Nathaniel Allison Murray.
So many of the masses of us still believe and feel an inferiority complex.
Hundreds of Negroes are still skeptical of Black Genius.
Jewel Nathaniel Allison Murray, 1946
By Skip Mason
In the book the Talented Tenth, I share the phenomenal words of wisdom
of the Jewels. The driving force behind doing this book was to allow the
Jewels (themselves) to speak on issues of the fraternity as they
envisioned it. Their remarks are timeless and so applicable to Alpha today.
When you read their words I, believe that you too will realize in some
instances how far off track we have strayed from their original ideas.
Today, I share a few pearls of wisdom from Jewel Nathaniel Allison Murray.
To know Jewel Murray was to love him. He was born in wealth and privilege.
He was a loving husband and caring father of two daughters. He loved Alpha.
He loved being a Jewel, so much that when he signed his name, he always
placed Jewel behind it. Even in a letter to his own blood brother, he signed
it that way. In the appendix of the book, I have three different speeches
of Jewel Murray on the early history of Alpha and each one gives a different
account. Each time he shares something different. Jewel Murray
was fascinating, frugal and passionate about Alpha. In the book, I have
dubbed him "The Passionate Jewel."
ON ALPHA MATERIAL
"Ten or more years after the first general convention was held, Alpha
Phi Alpha was more or less on trial. Our early expansion program
made the mistake, which mature reflection of later years has found that
taking men into this fraternity, in order to show to the other fraternities,
who were in competition with us for membership, men whose ideas of life
and fraternity in general were not in keeping with the ideas of your Founders,
but since they were accepted and initiated into the fraternity, they enjoyed
the benefits of
fraternal life mostly while in college.
What has become of that same brother today? The answer,
I am sure, is known to all of my audience. To all intents and purposes,
that delinquent brother seemed fit for Alpha Phi Alpha material. Those
brothers were actuated by a greed for gambling, and a lust for pleasure,
strong drink and other forms of vice which your Founders would never have
tolerated. May we never pass through such trying years again."
"A partial answer to the foregoing is that these Brothers need a real
heart to heart talk with a view of reacquainting themselves as to how absolutely
necessary it is for them to continue to affiliate with their local chapters,
as they did in the beginning of their undergraduate days. The fraternity
needs them as necessary integral parts of its forward moving program. Brothers
do not make the mistake of stressing the need of their returning merely
to help in some financial program because that is not the idea the speaker
wishes to convey. Far be such an idea. Let the Brother be persuaded by
personal visits and talks to come out and see for himself what a wonderful
thing it is to be a part of Alpha Phi Alpha whose efforts will live forever.
ON THE ELECTION OF OFFICERS
"Aim to cut out too much politics in the selection of your chapter officers.
Select only those Brothers for nomination who possess qualities of leadership,
scholarship and character that you will feel proud in having them as leaders.
Get rid of the machine politics whereby so many chapters are handicapped
in carrying out any kind of program, which program would always react to
the glory and fame of dear old Alpha Phi Alpha...If chapters will but work
to assimilate their membership and through their programs keep up a rich"
ON UNDERGRADUATE BROTHERS
"The present decrease in undergraduate membership is due to not understanding
the main purposes of Alpha Phi Alpha to help men. This applies particularly
to graduate chapters, who should take a more active interest in their undergraduate
brothers. Another reason is that many undergraduates are not getting the
anticipated fun, that they felt would be there's by joining a fraternity
like Alpha Phi Alpha.
The Founders of Alpha Phi Alpha did not organize
the world's first fraternity among Negro College men just to have fun,
but they were actuated by a desire to give service to our fellow men and
to put service above self, love all mankind and scholarship."
FROM THE LIPS OF A JEWEL
"There was real inspiration and it was the real Alpha Phi Alpha spirit
present in those days that carried us on and up. I long for a return to
those days. In those days the familiar slogan was "Do all you can for dear
Alpha Phi Alpha!"
Jewel Nathaniel Allison Murray, 1947
SKIP'S QUOTE FOR TODAY
"If there is anybody in this land who thoroughly believes that the
meek shall inherit the earth they have not often let their presence be
W. E. B. Du Bois (1868-1963)
SKIP'S SCRIPTURAL QUOTE FOR TODAY
"The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want!
ALPHA AND THE CME CHURCH
I am very proud to be a minister in the CME denomination. The
Christian Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1870 as the Colored
Methodist Episcopal Church of America. Since its inception, there have
been many Bishops of the CME Church who were brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha.
A partial list is included and the known schools or chapters of initiation.
The Beta Pi Chapter at Lane College has been the breeding ground for CME
pastors and Bishops. Skip's Historical Moments salute these brethren.
*Chester A. Kirkendoll
E. Lynn Brown (Beta Phi)
P. Randolph Shy (Omicron Lambda)
Richard O. Bass (Beta Phi)
William H. Graves (Beta Phi)
Dotcy I. Isom
Thomas L. Hoyt(Beta Phi)
*James L. Cummings(Beta Phi)
*James A. Hamlett
If you know of others, or the chapters of the ones listed, please email
me with that information at firstname.lastname@example.org
ALPHA FOLKLORE: WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?
The stories floating around Alphadom are rich! They seem to keep coming
and I appreciate your sharing them with me. Recently, Brother Julius Hall
shared one with me that I found to be very interesting. Once again, this
story has not been substantiated or documented, so don't rush to tell a
"Last night I paid a visit to Brother Bob Warren, who pledged at FAMU
in 1959 and is currently a member of Mu Lambda in Washington. I took
him copies of all of the previous SHM and he was like a kid in a candy
store, reading and reminiscing. He wanted to read all 20 plus editions
on the spot.
While reading about Jewel Jones, he told me an interesting story about
Jones and the establishment of Beta and Gamma Chapters, according to folklore.
The story goes that Jones (who attended Virginia Union as an undergraduate
before going to Cornell) had made plans for Alpha's second chapter to be
established at his alma mater, Va Union. The story continues that
on his way to Virginia, Jones stopped off in Washington to continue a courtship
with a young lady and while in Washington, paid a visit to Howard and started
a chapter there before continuing on to Virginia Union to establish what
became Gamma Chapter. The point being that but for an affair of the
heart, Beta Chapter would be at Virginia Union and not Howard.
I will leave it to you and the Brothers from Va Union and Howard to
OF SPECIAL INTEREST
Recently, Brother Mark C. Jackson initiated into Alpha at the Theta
Iota Chapter(Virginia Tech) in 1992 died. He did not have any immediate
family. The brothers of Theta Iota and the graduate chapter are working
to to cover his funeral cost and are seeking contributions from any concerned
brothers. You may contact brother Landry Alexander at Landry_Alexander@fpl.com
for further information.
FROM THE EMAIL LETTER BAG
I will be brief with this question I have for you. It has been some
years since the history book has been updated. Don't you think it is time
to do so? The information that you have provided is just what is need to
make us current as a Fraternity. Also, there is so much information
that brothers who have been in the frat for years and those who have just
been initiated have no idea about. Please let me know what you think
Bro. Theodore H. Thomas
Delta Phi Lambda - Tuscaloosa, AL
EN (Stillman College) - Fall '87(pledged)
Skip's Response-The issue of the update of the History book should be
addressed to the General President. I believe the Historical Commission
will be announced at the convention.
Good Afternoon Bro. Mason,
I am a sucker for Black history, especially Frat History. I have
a disks of info. that is dedicated to Frat. history and I've have inserted
your writings into my archives. I do have one question. Does kapsi
for knights of ALPHA at IU?
Bro. Anthony Williams
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
SKIP'S NOTE-The Kappa's National Convention is in Atlanta next month.
I will pose that question to my Kappa buddies and see what response I get.
I was wondering if you could give the brother's some insight into the
history of the COLD aspect of the Fraternity. Why do we call the
hand sign the ICE and when did it begin? Also I was wondering if
you give any props to the Beta Sigma Chapter for its illustrious history
and the 4 national championships it has produced? Thank you for you
column in my e-mail Bro. Mason. As the new historian for the chapter,
it inspires me to dig deeper into the history of our great fraternity.
Sekou Harris/Beta Sigma/Spr' 98 #13/Mr. Frostbite
SKIP'S NOTE- The issue of the use of the term cold and the hand sign
was addressed in a previous issue
No 16. You may access my temporary web site to get back
issues. It is listed at the end of this newsletter.
I have been getting the history lessons by way of forwarded email. That
is fine and dandy but I would truly like to receive them directly from
you. I am in S. Korea serving in the Army and do not have much
contact with the fraternal organization as I did back in the States.
Which is unfortunate. That is why I take great pride in reading your
history lessons daily. Keep it coming.
Bro. Samuel Hunt (Howard)
Theta Psi-Univ. of Central Arkansas
FA'94 Majestic Gold #10
10 Golden Knights of Rage
When did Lionel Richie become a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity,
Inc.I remember attending the National Convention in 1993 in New Orleans
and hearing rumors that the General President was trying to initiate Lionel
Richie who was staying at a hotel in the area. Brother Tommie Williamson
SKIP'S NOTE- Lionel Richie was initiated in a private ceremony in California
Dear Bro. Mason,
Recently, some of the Bros. were discussing Kappas and their canes.
It was said that Sigmas used canes before Kappas, and we used canes even
before them. We just never used it as symbol for the fraternity.
addition it was said that some chapters in the Northeast use them.
We were hoping you could shed a little light on this subject.
Bros. Roper & Baiyewu
Alpha Rho Chpt.
Spr. ' 99
Skip's Note-There is not physical knowledge of the Alpha's using the
cane first. Perhaps some chapters may have used it as a prop for stepping.
Any comments on this brothers, email me
Three cheers to the commentary by brother Will Dailey! As an individual
who evolved from the "untalented ninetieth" in the "black community" and
as someone who thinks that the fraternity should not be above criticism,
I appreciated his comments. Brothers really should ponder the questions
that were raised by brother Dailey. I think it was during the
1960s that Alpha, like so many other mainstream black organizations, began
to lose its influence. Perhaps like the NAACP, which initially opposed
mass demonstrations because its leaders thought that litigation was the
best strategy, Alpha contributed little to simulating the mass protest
phase of the movement. Yes, the fraternity was instrumental in providing
legal support to dismantling Jim Crow and providing scholarships to black
students who desegregated white universities, but by the 1960s the movement
had turned to direct confrontations in Greensboro, Nashville, Jackson,
Birmingham etc. Nowhere
in my readings of the civil rights movement nor in photographs of the
movement have I come across any local alpha chapter involved in these campaigns.
I'm sure individual alphas were involved, but I suspect that the
elitism of the fraternity bred the type of conservatism that would
have prevented the fraternity from coordinating mass demonstrations. However,
the fraternity did send a contingent to the 1963 March on Washington. I'm
willing to wager that most of the black student activists in organizations
like SNCC were not even Greeks. You have folks like John Lewis (Sigma)
and Marion Barry (Alpha) who were activists but what about the likes of
movement activists such as Julian Bond, Stokley Carmichael, Diane Nash,
Bernice Reagon, Charles Sherrod, Ruby Smith, C.T.Vivian, Bernard Lee, or
Robert Moses? The fact of the matter is that the "talented
tenth" has provided little in the way of addressing the real needs of the
least of us. They have been
more concerned with making sure that poor and working-class black folk
present a good image to white folk so as not to make ALL black folk look
bad. And of course, the black elite also made sure they were "getting
paid"---Bro. E. Franklin Frazier discuss this aspect of the black elite
in his book on the black middle class, especially in his chapter titled
"The Myth of Negro Business." Rosa Parks, considered the "mother"
of the modern civil rights movement, was not an AKA nor a Delta when she
refused to give up her seat to a white
man (but I'm sure one of the sororities made her an honorary member
AFTER she made history). As a seamstress, her vocation did not qualify
her as a member of the Smart Set or the Links, nor was she a "lettered"
woman from one of our great Negro or white institutions of higher learning.
While the most respectable in Montgomery (including King) owned cars, Parks
stood for the needs of ordinary black folk.
King was only an accident in history. He was chosen to led the
boycott to quell descension among black ministers in Montgomery because
he was the new preacher in town, not because he was inspired by "fraternal
spirits" to desegregate a bus system that he himself did not use. King
rose to the occasion and his talents propelled him to one of the greatest
leaders of the twentieth century. But we must remember that it was ordinary,
working-class black folk who fought off water hoses, dogs, and billy clubs.The
elite were inclined to devote their time and resources to cotillions and
debutante balls rather than risking their lives for the movement.
Indeed, the southern black middle class of that era was dominated by school
teachers, whose occupations precluded their overt activism because they
could potentially loose their state-funded jobs. To use but one example,
Septima Clark, an activist who was fired from her job as a school teacher
for teaching blacks how to register and vote in South Carolina, wrote from
her book, Ready from Within, how her AKA sorority sisters abandoned her
after she was fired from her teaching job. Her "sisters" even refused to
be photographed with her for fear of (potentially) losing their jobs!
So much for the talented tenth when revolution went beyond the courts
and national conferences on the "Negro problem."
Jewel Callis, who always seem to have a prophetic word, warned the fraternity
in the early 1960s about its potential demise. He said that as long as
the fraternity does not swerve from its democratic principles, it
will live on. As Alpha continues to stand on the sidelines while the
"untalented ninetieth" of every color and nationality continues to catch
hell, it will continue to die a slow death. (By the way, I participated
in the recent march against police brutality in NYC and did not see one
alpha banner, T-shirt or button...)
God help us to make it to 2006.
BUY BLACK POSTAGE STAMPS
The post office is considering discontinuing Black Heritage Stamps
because they aren't selling. Go to the post office and buy our (African-American)
stamps each and every time you mail something. It doesn't require
special ordering. And I know it's easier to just accept the love,
or rose, or teddy bear stamps that they offer you automatically when you
request stamps. We are only 13% of the population. If we don't buy
them, nobody's buying them. Some may think that it's not that
big of a deal, but wouldn't you like your children to grow up using stamps
with faces resembling theirs instead of Elvis Presley or the latest endangered
SKIP'S THOUGHT- Would not it be nice to have a stamp commemorating the
100th Anniversary of the founding of Alpha Phi Alpha? The seed has been
planted. May it sprout in some brother's mind to pursue it!
Several brothers shared this article with me on Hazing and Pledging
For you cyberbrothers, other sites of interest:
TO OBTAIN BACK ISSUES OF SKIP'S HISTORICAL MOMENTS, GO TO
(my temporary web site)
Pull up About Skip and go to Skip's Historical Moments. There you will
be able to retrieve back issues in their entirety.
No 1- Callis's First Wife
No 2- The Ties That Bind: Lyle and Hedgeman/APHIA/AKA
No 3- Charles Chapman, A Poet?
No 4- The APHIA/Delta Connection (Most requested issue)
No 5- Frederick Douglass: He was the Spirit of the Fraternity
No 6- Rev. A Wayman Ward: The Author of the Fraternity
No. 7- Abram L. Simpson, Author of the Fraternity Hymn and other Alpha
No. 8- Revisionist Fraternities: The Omega, Kappa, Sigma Conspiracy
No. 9- The Daughter of Jewel Ogle
No 10- How Alpha is Portrayed in Current Literature
No. 11- Duke Ellington and Alpha Phi Alpha
No. 12- Jewel Vertner Woodson Tandy's Connection to Tuskegee
No. 13- The Mothers of the Jewels, Part One
No. 14- Jewel Jones Mother: Mrs .Rosa Kinckle Jones/ Dr. Roscoe C.Giles
No. 15- Jewel Murray Mother: Mrs. Anna Evans Murray
No. 16- Jewels Ogle and Tandy's Mothers
No. 17- Mrs. Annie Singleton and the Mothers of Ithaca
No. 18- Jewel Eugene Kinckle Jones: Truly A Servant of All
No. 19- Alpha and Sigma Pi Phi(The Boule)
No. 20- The Sphinx Club and Pledging 1906-1930
No. 21- Masonic and other fraternal ties to the Seven Jewels
No. 22-DuBois and Alpha Phi Alpha: Was it the pride of his heart?
No 23- The Book: The Talented Tenth
No. 24- Jewel Ogle's Grave/Alpha's Second Honorary Member
No. 25- Having Their Say: Letters from the Brothers
No. 26- Jewel George Biddle Kelley, An Eternal Neophyte and Advocate
for College Brothers
No. 27-Charles Henry Chapman: The Reclaimed Jewel
No. 28-The Lighter Side of Alpha(White Brothers in the Fraternity,
No. 29- The Lighter Side of Alpha, pt. 2
No. 30- Egyptian Excursion/The Jewel's Granddaughter visits Atlanta
No. 31- The Fathers of the Jewels/Men of Ithaca
THE TALENTED TENTH
THE FOUNDERS AND 30 GENERAL PRESIDENTS
By Skip Mason
Foreword by Brother Andrew Young
Published by Four G's Press, c. 1999
Winter Haven, Florida
464 pages; 28 cm, 100+ photographs
$25.00 (soft back)
$32.50 (hard back)
To be released in June '99(hardbacks in July)
ORDER FORM, PLEASE PRINT, FILL OUT AND MAIL .
$25.00 (Soft back)
$32.50 (Hard back)
This is still prepublication price. So get it while it lasts!
Please send me ______ copies at ___________. Total enclosed:
(add $3.20 for shipping for each copy/ 6% sales tax each copy)
Ship books to:
CITY STATE ZIP_________________________________________________
INDICATE IF YOU WANT BOOK INSCRIBED AND TO WHOM_______________
To order, send order form, check or money order made payable to Skip
Skip Mason/The Talented Tenth 564 Blake Avenue, SE
Atlanta, Georgia 30316
Skip's Historical Moments is a twice weekly newsletter used to dialogue
and discuss issues of historical importance to men of Alpha. This
newsletter is sent to over 3,000 brothers. If every brother would
this to ten brothers this communication would reach a network of
30,000 or more. If you don't want to forward, please forward to me email
addresses and I will add them to the list. The list is growing by leaps
and bounds. Send your questions, queries, comments to email@example.com
Advanced apologies to you if you are receiving each issue more than
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