I am on my way to Vegas in a few hours for the Black Librarian's Conference
and to take a very much needed break. This past Sunday, I celebrated
my 3rd Anniversary as pastor of the St. James CME Church. It warmed my
hearts when two of my young brothers from Alpha Rho Chapter at Morehouse
surprised me and drove the 1hour and 45 minutes to share with me
on my anniversary and the church's 101st Anniversary. To Brother Seth Pickens(a
neophyte and Historian) and Albert Sanders (No 25, off of the rechartering
line and one who absorbs history), thanks for surprising me and supporting
me. It meant a great deal to me! Now get to work and write that Alpha Rho
history! By the way, my sermon topic was "What to Do After
You Have Fallen Seven Times?" Proverbs 24: 16 " A righteous man falls
seven times and rises again." I kinda "worked the number Seven. For your
information I was born in the seventh month on a day when multiplied is
2x7, in the seven o'clock hour and was initiated into Alpha in the
seven o'c clock hour too. JFK, jr, became the
I also appreciate the presence of Brothers Walton, Harris, Coleman, White, Johnson, who assisted me with my program.
Well, the books will arrive this week! Can't wait! I am sure some of you can't either. Many of you have been with me since the beginning of this project. "In due season, you shall reap if you do not faint!"
In this issue, I am featuring the comments of two guest columnist in a continuous debate on the Talented Tenth dilemma in the fraternity for the 1990s. Many of you have been following the ongoing discussion. I am sure you will find these points interesting.
I look forward to sharing with you for my pre-convention issue of SHM
on next Tuesday where I will feature all of the General Presidents Candidates.
The men who want to take us to 2004. Enjoy your week as I plan to
THE TALENTED TENTH OR
>From Brother Buckley
I think I have been misunderstood. Yes, while DuBois is very specific about the "talented tenth" being doctors, lawyers, and other "professionals," he also describes these creme de la creme as bearing the responsibility and having the talents secure the "dream" for the masses and uplift humanity. I do NOT subscribe to this notion of the "tenth" as DuBois describes or an elite that holds THE gifts to secure anything for the masses. Hence, I said in my last message that "philosophically, the talented tenth is a *myth...." I go on to say that "the 'talented tenth' *really are those people who GIVE their talents to all of humanity because they understand their responsibility to do so." Given my statement that DuBois' idea is a myth, I thought it would be understood that the successive statements reflected my opinion of what/who the talented *should be.
Still Alpha Phi Alpha has been greatly impacted by this "myth"-- and
without surprise, given the the time of the Fraternity's founding and
the type of men who breathed life into the organization (collegiate). If
Alpha is the school for the better making of men, such a school should
produce doctors, lawyers, and other "professionals." We should
note that America denied (and still does deny) our people's ability
to be professionals. It was/is only right that Alpha challenges that
notion. And if the Fraternity is concerned with acquiring wealth
and/or upward mobility, so be it. It is, after all, one of
the reasons you chose membership in this particular organization
... and a goal of every young man who participates in a capitalist
society. (We can all admit it if we take honest inventory
Now, that is ideally how Alpha Phi Alpha might be, embracing DuBois'
"talented tenth" concept. I don't know that is a reality at all.
My point of consideration is that as we criticize the Fraternity for
The state of our Fraternity reflects the state of its members and the state of our community. We're talking about mass demonstrations and we don't even have an AGENDA. We can all ask ourselves what less-than-conservative efforts we have taken leadership in to secure benefits to the masses. Stagnation is a response to collective apathy not a criticism of elected leadership. And yes, I wish we could get beyond this membership intake and liability issue already; apparently easier said than done... Just as criticism is easier to offer than the energy to construct and reconstruct. We must remember the place from which the Fraternity emerged. Remember that it was a group of Black students "who were desirous of maintaining more intimate contacts with one another than their classroom study permitted." And while the Fraternity has developed and matured, as an Organization, a corporate structure, it has constraints. However, as a BROTHERHOOD, our scope is still limitless. Again, I acknowledge and agree that we can do better.
In the final analysis, it is the *individual who makes changes, challenges the world, invites progress, strengthens and shapes the *collective destiny. History is still waiting for "accidents" to happen. What will be your/my interaction with fate?
WE SHALL TRANSCEND ALL.
FROM BROTHER FRED HARRIS
Just a note to brother Dailey's rely to my comments on the Talented Tenth in SHM, # 37. Brother Dailey stated precisely what I intended to say in his eloquent response in SHM, #38, but I would add just a couple of more points for Brother Buckley and others to ponder. Not only do I think Brother Buckley misinterpreted DuBois's idea of the Talented Tenth, as brother Dailey pointed out, but his logic that the individual contributions brothers render outside of the fraternity constitute Alpha's presence is equally flawed. What once made Alpha a great organization was its cooperative, not individual response, to the conditions that affected black folks. This organization response included initiatives such as the "Go to High School, Go the College" campaign, which inspired many black youth through the efforts of local chapters. The campaign inspired many youth to complete high school and college in a period of American life when very few black Americans, especially in the South, had the wherewithal to pursue formal education.
Not only did the fraternity lend financial and intellectual support
to dismantle Jim Crow laws, including paying the tuition of students (brothers
as well as non-brothers) who desegregated white colleges, but the fraternity
was a visionary in its voter registration and citizenship campaign--"A
Voteless People Is a Hopeless People." Launched during the 1930s, the campaign
assisted black voter registration in a period of virtual disfranchisement
in the South. While individual Alphas may have gone on their own to register
people in their communities, Alpha as a collective entity provided leadership
and resources, remaining close to its origins as an institution of community
service. The campaign was visionary because it was replicated thirty
years later through the establishment of
Although I am not one who readily quotes biblical scriptures (I leave
that to Skip), one comes to mind when I think of the future of Alpha: "where
there is no vision the people will perish." I would expend that by saying
where there is no leadership, institutions will perish. Leadership sets
the tone of an institution's response to issues and concerns. The sad fact
of the matter is that Alpha may have seen its better days as an institution
committed to the problems that our communities face. It is that vision
of community service that separates us from all the others--we really don't
expect that kind of
If we compare Alpha's commitment during the pre-civil rights era to
its response to concerns in the post civil rights era, one could easily
conclude that Alpha has given up its commitment, and abandoned its origins
as an institution concerned with the civil and human rights of black folk
The answer, I believe, is very little.
Only a few visionaries in the post-civil rights era immediately
come to mind--past general presidents Ernest Morial and Ozell Sutton (remember
his support of brothers' and the fraternity's involvement in the anti-apartheid
movement?). When future historians look back at the conditions of black
And what do we do? We convene a convention in a state that, a year ago,
witnessed a modern day lynching when James Byrd, Jr., a member of the "untalented
ninetieth," was dragged to pieces from a back of a pickup truck by racists.
I suppose the step-shows, banquets, parties, fraternal lunches,
Again, what did Alpha do, the historians will ask. Were they "servants"
to causes when the black community needed its collective talents and resources?
Sadly, the only presence Alpha has in a court of law these days is not
to provide resources to counter these onslaughts but to protect itself
It might be that, as has always been the case, the "untalented ninetieth" will have to save itself--and by extension the black middle class. At least I know what side I'm on, do you?
SKIP'S QUOTE FOR TODAY
"Patience is the ability to keep your motor idling when you feel like stripping your gears."
Proverbs 16:32 - He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit is better than he that taketh a city.
A few letters from brothers:
I have two questions for you. Who was the youngest General President of Alpha, and is there an age requirement to hold this position?
Thank you in advance for your response.
Bro. Theodore H. Thomas
Skip's Response: Well the first five were college brothers, most of whom were in there early 20's.
1st- Moses Morrison - age 22
Hi once again frat, I'm in Italy awaiting a flight back to the states. Should be back home in a week or so. I forgot to mention that when I emailed you last, I was in port in GREECE. After I thought about it a little, one of our connections to each other is because of Greece. Of course the Greek alphabet comes from Greece, the Greek letters Alpha Phi Alpha are in that alphabet, so I just thought that it was cool to communicate with my fellow Greek frat brother while I was in Greece.
Just something to make you say hmmmmmmm.
Once again, I'm not sure if I'll make it in time to get to Dallas,
Take care and good luck my brother and much success in
Bro. Reggie Jackson
Dear Brothers of the Chicago area,
What alumni chapter(s) are in the Chicago area? I recently met a very good brother who is moving to Chicago for a Ph.D program at the University of Chicago. His name is Andrew Zawacki, and he came into the Frat at the College of William and Mary. Since he has graduated, he has been over seas at Oxford as a Rhode Scholar as well as several other countries on the Fulbright Scholar program. He has been back in the country for about a year but has been inactive during that time. He wants to be reclaimed and is seeking to be affiliated with a chapter upon arrival in Chicago. Any help with this matter would be appreciated.
Forever your Brother,
THANKS BROTHER. ON THE RECLAMATION 2000 PUSH THATS GOOD...
Brother Lawrence Jones
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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 5,000 brothers. If every brother would send this to ten brothers this communication would reach a network of 51,000 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 firstname.lastname@example.org Advanced apologies to you if you are receiving each issue more than once. Some names appear twice on the email distribution list.