The Better Making Of Men
I was born in the darkness. Made under the veil of blackness. Nightly Toth tested me and counted me among his cohort of souls who longed for resurrection. Pride. Ego. Selfishness. These useless behaviors were set aside for a greater good. Through much persistence and humility, I was reborn. The gods saw it fit to bestow me with The Light.
When the wind begins to have an additional crispness to it and the seasonal precipitation becomes more solid, the slightest of smiles cracks the hardened faces of certain men on this planet. The men I speak of don the finest of cloth fashioned in the colors of olde gold and black. These men have weathered every social storm this country has experienced. These men pride themselves in following certain aims and wear determination as a badge of honor. And when determination fails, they sustain themselves through sheer grit. These men are prepared to fight until hell freezes over, then they will fight on the ice. The men I speak of are a group that I have the privilege to count myself among, the Brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
To a few I am the Castle of Dreams,
Ambitious, successful, hopeful dreams.
To many, I am the Poetic Palace
where human feeling is rhymed to celestial motives.
To the great majority,
I am the Treasury of Good Fellowship.
In fact, I am the College of Friendship;
The University of Brotherly Love;
The School for the Better Making of Men.
I AM ALPHA PHI ALPHA! — Bro. Sidney P. Brown
Founded Tuesday, December 4th 1906 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, Alpha Phi Alpha has the distinction of being the first Greek-lettered fraternity established for African American men. Initially started as a study group then literary society to finally the organization that we see today, Alpha has been at the forefront of every major event in the last two centuries involving the advancement of black people. The Founders, known as “Jewels”, found the need for brotherhood in an environment that was hostile to African men residing in North America. The need for this great fraternity then, is just as crucial as the need for it now. Much has changed, yet so much remains the same. What will hold steadfast is Alpha Phi Alpha’s commitment to “developing leaders, promoting brotherhood and academic excellence, while providing service and advocacy to our communities.”
This is my thirteenth Founders’ Day. Every December 4th for the last decade and some change, I reflect on why I chose to become a member. I think of Brothers like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Jesse Owens, Paul Robeson, and countless others that I have the honor of calling “Brother”. I reserve a portion of my reflection towards my mentor and college professor, Rev. Dr. Said L. Sewell, III. This man was the sole reason why and how I became a member of the ranks of men that are the first of all, servants of all, and shall transcend all. As an incoming freshman in the fall of 2002 at the University of West Georgia, I had absolutely no knowledge of fraternities or sororities, let alone the Divine 9. I didn’t have any immediate family members that belonged to any of our beloved organizations, so I had no framework of knowledge to endeavor from. What I did have was an example that I sought to emulate. While on campus, I became involved in a mentorship program Said developed alongside his founding of the Center for African American Research, Success, and Leadership. Through his tireless efforts as a mentor and leader in the metro Atlanta community, I looked to mirror Said’s paths in many ways. One of the steps I chose was to follow his tread into the fraternity he greatly cherishes and fiercely protects. Over the years, Brother Sewell has been part of many milestones in my life. From my commencement at West Georgia to officiating my wedding ceremony to ushering me into the House of Alpha.
I pray that every Brother reading this becomes reinvigorated with the true spirit of brotherhood. I hope you become recommitted to our aims and our mission. Understandably, some of us have become busier in our lives, we may have become disenchanted with our chapters, or feeling like you no longer have a place in the brotherhood you have given so much too. I challenge you to become reengaged. To fondly think of the past, yet be involved with the shaping of the future. Let us recite our favorite poems, remember our hearty chants, and dwell in the House that has given us so much.
Happy Founders’ Day Brothers