“The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men.”
-W.E.B. Du Bois, 1903
Presentation is everything, and I respect the way the men of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. carry themselves. When they show up, they show up together and make sure their presence is known, yet it is always done in a tasteful matter. Yes, I want to walk in a room and yell “A Phi, 06!” Yes, I want to dance up and down the aisle before the step show starts. Yes, I want to step and win the step show. Yes, I want to be known as one of the sophisticated brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Yet even though I want all the perks that come with Greek letters, I am ready and willing to take on the responsibilities.
I believe I stand as part of what W.E.B. Du Bois calls the “Talented Tenth.” The men who have been risen by the educated men that came before them, so that they may guide the masses from destruction. The job of the Tenth is to rise and then pull their fellow man up as well, a job that I have already accepted through tutoring and mentoring. I have been given the gift of understanding, and I want to share this gift with others. I have been bred since birth for intelligence, leadership, and success. And I have no intention of disappointing my parents, or the people who came before them who fought so that I could have the same rights as others. I am the product of hundreds of years of sweat, tears, blood, and abuse, but, more importantly, I am the start of the next hundred years of progress.
I want to be part of a tradition that dates back almost 100 years. The time when Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. was founded was filled with the oppression of Blacks. The need I feel to be around other blacks while attending a majority white university is just a taste of what the Jewels experienced in 1906 when the number of Blacks on Cornell’s campus was minute. Almost a hundred years later, there is still the need to form a bond with my fellow man. Man’s nature is to seek out and surround itself with others like itself. For me, these people would have to be other individuals of scholarship, leadership and success.
Of course I have considered other organizations, both Greek and non-Greek, but there is something about the class of men that Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. accepts. The Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. brothers I know are well respected outside of the organization. They are scholars, they are engineers, they are president of the National Society of Black Engineers, they are creator of a minority news magazine, they are a black belt of the martial arts, they are president of African American Association, they are founder of the Chess Club. They are leaders. Though these accomplishments are great, they can hold nothing to the likes of Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Duke Ellington, Donny Hathaway, Jesse Owens, Thurgood Marshall, and Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. – the only man to have a national holiday and a street in almost every city or town in the nation. These men are and were of a high caliber. I believe I am of this caliber.