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While shadows of colorism still exist within the culture of African-American fraternities and sororities in the United States, there was a point in which it was blatantly clear that certain organizations took the hue of one’s skin into account before giving them a chance to pledge.

We have all heard stories of the practice of fraternities and sororities only allowing members with skin color lighter than a brown paper bag to gain admission into their bonds and proof that color lines and boundaries were strong and present can be seen by simply comparing the intake photos of the members of Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta from the first half of the 20th century.

You may think that these destructive practices may have simply been overlooked as a simple fact of life during the early years of our greek letter organizations, but it apparently they weren’t. In 1928, a sophomore at Howard University named Edward H. Taylor published an article in “The Hilltop” student newspaper that accused fraternities of “splitting the various classes into groups of different shades — yellow, brown, and black.” According to Taylor, “The light-skinned students are sought after by the fraternities and sororities, particularly the latter, as members and the dark ones passed by. The darker brown students then form their own cliques while the blacks are left in the cold.”

WatchTheYard.com has recently obtained a published editorial response to this article written in 1928. The writer, takes a very well argued response to this claim and explores it even more in depth addressing it in a way that makes the present day reader feel as if someone from today jumped into a time machine, saw the original article and responded to it.

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The article begins with the writer describing their initial feeling of distraught when hearing about the colorism found in Howard’s Greek community.

“We are not so surprised when we hear such rumors and reports about institutions of learning owned, controlled and attended by white people, but it certainly comes as a great shock and causes a feeling of shame when we hear such news about Negro colleges. At first glance, it would seem incredible that Negros, themselves the victims of ignorant prejudice and discrimination because of color should follow the lead of the Nordics.”

The writer then follows by making the claim that no matter what color you are, if you are African-American, you are Africa-American.

“Negros, young and old, everywhere in the world today and particularly in the United States, have got to clearly understand that whatever the gradations of color in the group, they are all Negros. It isn’t of the slightest moment that one Negro can boast (?) of several white ancestors while another cannot except as it reveals his lamentable ignorance, blindness and lack of race respect.

They then follow by dropping some knowledge on the reader via an example that still holds true today:

“The lightest Negro in the United States, if known as a Negro, will be jim crowed as quickly as one possessing no Caucasian ancestry.”

The author then finishes by offering a solution that if these claims of colorism within Black fraternities and sororities are true, “these organizations ought to be suppressed for the good of the university and the Negro group.” He closes by stating:

“There is nothing in a white skin to gloat over and nothing in a black skin to be depressed about. It is character, intelligence, and virtue that count. Millions of morons, cretins and degenerates have white skins and straight hair while a long list of able Negros, from the Kings of Ethiopia who once dominated the civilized world, to Askia of Songhai, to Tshaka the Zulu Napoleon, Mosheh the nation builder, Khama of Bamangwate, Sir Apolo Kagwa, Prime Minister of Uganda, and to Roland Hayes and Nathaniel Dett have been dark as the night.

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This article speaks volumes to the current situation of colorism in the United States. Just this week, rapper Kendrick Lamar was accused on the internet of not being a conscious Black man because he chose to become engaged to his high school sweetheart who happens to be a light skinned Black woman instead of finding a darker skinned woman to marry.

Many of the truths in the article regarding greek life also still hold true today. While Black sororities in the United States all now have a mix of the beautiful shades of African-American skin tones, many of the shadows of this colorism-based past still exist. Think about it. You have probably come across a situation in which someone tells a light-skinned Delta that she looks like she could be an AKA and vice versa. While they may not have explicitly stated that this is because she has light-skin, you know exactly what they mean.

What do you think about the present day state of colorism in Black fraternities/sororities? Have you dealt with any situations as a greek because of the color of your skin? Please discuss in the comment section below.

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Alphas

The First Black Mayor of New York, David Dinkins, Is a Member of Alpha Phi Alpha

Did you know that the first Black Mayor of New York, David Dinkins is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha?

Dinkins crossed the Beta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha at Howard University in 1984 where he graduated cum laude with a degree in mathematics in 1950.

Here is a picture of the Beta Chapter in 1950. David Dinkins is on the far left and Andrew Young, the man who would become the mayor of Atlanta, is the 6th brother from the right.

Dinkins received his LL.B. from Brooklyn Law School in 1956 and started a private practice from 1956 to 1975 while he rose to the head of the Democratic party in Harlem.

In 1966, Dinkins briefly served as a member of the New York State Assembly (78th D.) and later served as the president of the New York City Board of Elections (1972–1973) and New York City Clerk (1975–1985). In 1985, he became the Manhattan borough president and on On November 7, 1989, Dinkins made history by being elected mayor of New York City, defeating Republican nominee Rudy Giuliani in the general election.

After serving as mayor Dinkins served as a Professor of Professional Practice in the Faculty of International and Public Affairs at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

Dinkins, who is currently in his 90s, is a pride to his fraternity and in 2013 members of the Wall Street Alphas and the Beta Chapter Alumni Association (BCAA) hosted a special tribute to him at the Red Rooster Harlem. The event — entitled “An Alpha Man from Gotham” – brought together members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. across several generations to honor the legacy of Dinkins.

Check out this video the event below.


Video by Sun Chase Media

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Alphas

Woody Strode: The Definition Of Alpha Phi Alpha Badass

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If you want to know about manliness, hard work and grit, look no further than Alpha Phi Alpha’s very own, Woody Strode.

Strode was a college track and football star at UCLA, one of the first Blacks to integrate the NFL, a professional wrestler, a Golden Globe nominated actor, and a WWII veteran. This man was the definition of a renaissance man, keep reading this article and you will understand exactly why.

Strode was born in Los Angeles on July 25, 1914, the son of a Creek-Blackfoot-African-American father and a Cherokee-African-American mother. He grew up in South Central and became so good at sports(track and field/football) that he made it to UCLA and played alongside Jackie Robinson and Kenny Washington, both who broke the color barriers of baseball and football in the 1940s. His world-class decathlon capabilities were spearheaded by a 50 ft (15 m) plus shot put (when the world record was 57 ft (17 m)) and a 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) high jump (the world record at time was 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)). While in college, Strode joined UCLA’s Alpha Phi Alpha chapter. Strode’s athletic physique was so appealing that a nude portrait of him was featured in Hubert Stowitts’s acclaimed exhibition of athletic portraits shown at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The exhibit was closed because the Nazis did not agree with the inclusion of black and Jewish athletes being show in such a powerful light.

When World War II broke out, Strode was playing for the Hollywood Bears Football team but quit to join the United States Army Air Corps and spent the war unloading bombs in Guam and the Marianas, as well as playing on the Army football team at March Field in Riverside, California.

In 1941, Strode married a real life princess. Strode’s first wife was Princess Luukialuana Kalaeloa (a.k.a. Luana Strode), a distant relative of Liliuokalani, the last queen of Hawaii. That same year he began his career as a professional wrestler and made his film debut in the movie “Sundown.”

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Woody then went on to play professional football for the LA Rams from 1946-1948 and then the Calgary Stampeders, eventually retiring in 1949 to focus on acting. Between 1941 and 1962, Strode was billed as the Pacific Coast Heavyweight Wrestling Champion and the Pacific Coast Negro Heavyweight Wrestling Champion.

Strode’s exercise regimen was that of a superhero and nothing more than epic. He performed 1000 free squats, 1000 sit-ups, and 1000 pushups every day until he turned 40, at which point he reduced the numbers to 500.

Strode was noted for film roles that contrasted with the stereotypes of his time. He is probably best remembered for his brief Golden Globe-nominated role in Spartacus (1960) as the Ethiopian gladiator Draba, in which he fights Kirk Douglas to the death. By the time he died on New Year’s Eve, 1994, he had worked with such legendary directors as Cecil B. Demille (The Ten Commandments), Lewis Milestone (Pork Chop Hill), Stanley Kubrick (Spartacus), Sergio Leone (Once Upon A Time in the West), and John Ford (Sergeant Rutledge, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance).

Strode died of lung cancer on December 31, 1994, in Glendora, California, aged 80. He is buried at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California.

Strode was an Alpha Man and an Alpha male. Nothing could stop him and he did whatever he put his mind to. Please share this piece of history with your networks on Facebook and remind them that Alpha Phi Alpha does not play when it comes to influential members.

Click on the arrow below to see our gallery of VERY VERY badass photos of Strode throughout the years.

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Back In The Day

Check out These Vintage Photos of HBCU Women’s Sports Teams From the Early 1900s

Time for another blast from the past!

This time we have collected a list of HBCU women’s sports teams and athletic groups from the early 1900s.

Enjoy!

The women’s rifle team, Howard University, Washington DC, 1937.

Scurlock Studio Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

FAMU Students and instructors with tennis equipment. Tallahassee, Florida. 1915.

TILLOTSON COLLEGE: Women’s Basketball Team

Samuel Huston women’s basketball team.

Lifesaving practice at Howard University

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