Thursday January 28th marks the 30th anniversary of the Challenger space shuttle exploding in 1986 just 73 seconds after taking off over Cape Canaveral for its tenth mission. Many who were alive during this time may remember watching the tragedy on live television and the sadness that covered the nation after, but many do not know that among the seven killed was a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., Dr. Ronald McNair.
McNair was born and raised in Lake City, SC. As a young child he was fascinated by space exploration and learning. His search for knowledge was so great that in 1959, he refused to leave the segregated Lake City Public Library because they would not allow him to check out books. The police and his mother were called and he was eventually allowed to borrow the books and now that library is named after him. The following cartoon for children was made about his encounter as a child with segregation.
McNair graduated as valedictorian of Carver High School in 1967 and went on to attended North Carolina A&T State University where he crossed Omega Psi Phi’s Mu Psi Chapter and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics, magna cum laude. In 1976, he received a Ph.D. in physics from MIT and became nationally recognized for his work in laser physics.
In 1978, he was selected as one of thirty-five applicants from a pool of ten thousand for the NASA astronaut program. He flew on STS-41-B aboard Challenger from 3–11 February 1984, as a mission specialist becoming the second African American to fly in space (The first African-American in space, Guy Bluford, just so happens to be a member a separate black fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity).
McNair was a great example of an Omega Man, not only was he mentally strong, he was also physically strong, earning a black belt in karate and writing extensively about martial arts. “A study he co-wrote about the physics of karate kicks inspired another man who shared McNair’s unconventional passions: Neil deGrasse Tyson,” New York Daily News states. “An astronaut who was also a black belt in karate served as a kind of affirmation that an athletic hobby need not interfere with academic pursuits,” Neil deGrasse Tyson once said about him.
Dr. McNair was selected for a NASA flight, which launched on 28 January 1986, and was killed when Challenger disintegrated just nine miles above the Atlantic Ocean under a minute after liftoff.
While he is no longer with us, his legacy lives on. McNair has a crater on the moon, a buildings at MIT and North Carolina A&T and over 23 K-12 schools named after him. Along with this, the U.S. Department of Education offers the TRIO Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program for students with low income, first generation students, and/or underrepresented students in graduate education for doctorate education.
Share this article with your network on social media as we collectively remember this amazing man of Omega Psi Phi today; Dr. Ronald McNair.
Click on the arrows below to see more pictures of McNair including the one of him playing saxophone on a spaceship!
Iota Phi Theta Founder Webster Lewis Was a Famous Jazz/ Disco Keyboardist
The brothers of Iota Phi Theta know it, but many outside of their great fraternity don’t know that one of the fraternity’s founders just so happens to be the amazing jazz and disco keyboardist, Webster Lewis.
Lewis was born in Baltimore in 1943 and attended Morgan State University where he became one of the founders of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. in 1963.
He attended the New England Conservatory of Music for his masters and went on to a have a very notable music career.
He started in jazz where he worked with George Russell, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, Stanton Davis, and the Piano Choir and in 1976, he signed with Epic Records where he produced a string of successful disco hits including “On the Town/Saturday Night Steppin’ Out/Do it With Style” in 1977 and “Give Me Some Emotion” in the 80s, both of which hit the music charts.
Lewis made a name for himself as a session musician and studio arranger, for greats including Barry White, Herbie Hancock, and others.
In the 80s he moved into doing soundtrack work for film and TV, including the movies The Hearse (1980), Body and Soul (1981) and My Tutor (1983).
In 2002, he passed away as a result of diabetes but his memory lives on through his hits and musical contributions as well as his phenomenal work to establish Iota Phi Theta.
Listen to some of his well-known hits below.
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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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Woody Strode: The Definition Of Alpha Phi Alpha Badass
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.”
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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