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If you are a member of a black fraternity or sorority and have access to Instagram, there is a very good chance that you know of the special brand of comedy made by a small but very popular and successful group of black greek comedians.

Nick Banks, a comedian who goes by the IG handle @Mr_Bankshot is one of these comedians specializing in comedy targeted toward members of Black fraternities and sororities and currently has a growing audience of over 250,000 follows who can attest to the fact that he can get people to laugh.

We at WatchTheYard.com got ahold of the 27-year-old Alpha for an exclusive interview and talked with him about his beloved fraternity, what he was like as a neo, and how he built and audience of over a quarter million fans in less than three years.

Check it out below:

Name: Nick Banks

Age: 27 (August 7th)

Where did you go to undergrad what did you graduate with?

I went to Ohio University (The Bobcats) and graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Communication Studies.

When did you cross/what chapter?

I crossed Spring ’11 Phi Chapter (4 Rock Club)

Why did you decide to pick Alpha Phi Alpha as an undergrad? What drew you to them?

I decided to join Alpha Phi Alpha because I saw them working on campus. They were doing fundraisers, educational events, community service, etc. And I would go to the gym or somewhere random on campus and would run into a complete stranger, have a cool conversation with them, and come to find out they were an Alpha. And of course after doing some research, it seemed to be the best fit for me.

How would you describe yourself as a neo?

As a neo? I would say I was thirsty for about 2 weeks after I crossed and then I was like ok, let me not wear my line jacket again today. Plus I was older than all my LB’s and damn near all the bruhs that were in the chapter so I wasn’t as thirsty as some Neo’s. I was pretty solid mentally and physically because I had just finished Army bootcamp a few months earlier.

How would your line brothers describe you as a neo?

A clown! I was always coming up with funny things right on the spot. They would say I was a leader. I was always coming up with events and planning them out and letting them know what it is I needed from them. I really took Alpha and ran with it to continue to make our presence strong on campus. Not saying I was instrumental in everything, but they would say I took the initiative to get things done.

How has Alpha helped you since crossing?

Since crossing, the biggest way Alpha has helped me is by allowing me to showcase my talents. A lot of the events I get booked for are Step Show/Stroll-Off events and if I wasn’t an Alpha, it would be very difficult to get booked for those types of events. Being able to host something like the stroll-off at Atlanta Greek Picnic in front of 10,000-15,000 people, wouldn’t have been possible without Alpha.

What brought you to comedy?

I really enjoy it. I’ve always been that person that people love being around, the family always wants me at the get togethers because I’m going to be the one to crack jokes and get the jokes going. I didn’t know comedy was going to be what I was doing at this point in my life or at all for that matter. Once I saw I was getting positive feedback from my social media platforms and from people close to me, I just decided to keep going to see where it would take me to. First it was about getting as many followers as I could, but it’s completely different now. That’s still important because you want people to see your work but it’s way more to it. I just knew I was capable of being funny and creative and I had a passion for it. I even did a comedy parody for my 2nd grade talent show.

You currently have over a quarter million followers on Instagram, how long did it take to develop your following?

I uploaded my first video in September of 2013. So it will be 3 years this year. I think my Pastor Flavor page I’ve had for about a year now and he has about 65,000 followers.

Do you have any tips on growing your fanbase on social media for others who want to get into comedy?

Be funny, be consistent, and stay relevant. Like I said, I’ve been doing this for almost 3 years now. Everybody wants that overnight fame, but that usually doesn’t last because people don’t know what to do when everyone is looking.

How do you think greekdom has changed since your crossed?

It’s just changed in general but that’s with times. Old heads can’t stroll with Neo’s anymore because the Neo’s took the original strolls and remixed them by adding the dab, nae nae, whip. You ask someone from the 80’s that same question they’ll say anybody that crossed after them is paper and this, that, and the third but things change. In about 20-30 years probably won’t even be a process, it’ll be like a Black Student Union meeting where you walk in, and your apart of the org lol. As long as you working and making your org look good, you good with me.

What lines do you not cross when making jokes about greeks?

I won’t disrespect anyone on a personal level but other than that I don’t have “lines” lol.

How much paraphernalia is too much paraphernalia in your opinion?

Man look! All you need is one item to let it be known that you are apart of whatever org you are apart of. You don’t need the Delta bucket hat, with the Delta necklace, and the Delta line shirt, with some Delta overalls and a pair of some elephant boots. One piece of nalia is enough.

What is the most played out thing in greekdom in your opinion?

Most played out thing to me is fighting over letters. That’s lame.

What is your best piece of advice to the spring 16 neos?

My best piece of advice would be to just continue the traditions. Don’t change the traditions because that’s what makes us so unique and special. Those traditions teach the underlying message of what being in NPHC is all about. We aren’t better than anyone because of our letters but we do have a bigger role in society. Don’t recruit your friends just because they are your friends, that’s when the drama comes into play. Look to add quality to your organization. My last piece of advice would be to make sure you look into booking Mr. Bankshot to host your annual step show. Lol!

A video posted by Nick Banks (@mr_bankshot) on

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Activism

20 Powerful Quotes From the Legendary Dick Gregory

  1. I never learned hate at home, or shame. I had to go to school for that.
  2. I never believed in Santa Claus because I knew no white dude would come into my neighborhood after dark.
  3. Hell hath no fury like a liberal scorned.
  4. I am really enjoying the new Martin Luther King Jr stamp – just think about all those white bigots, licking the backside of a black man.
  5. Political promises are much like marriage vows. They are made at the beginning of the relationship between candidate and voter, but are quickly forgotten.
  6. In most places in the country, voting is looked upon as a right and a duty, but in Chicago it’s a sport.
  7. Just being a Negro doesn’t qualify you to understand the race situation any more than being sick makes you an expert on medicine.
  8. When you have a good mother and no father, God kind of sits in. It’s not enough, but it helps.
  9. And we love to dance, especially that new one called the Civil War Twist. The Northern part of you stands still while the Southern part tries to secede.
  10. I wouldn’t mind paying taxes – if I knew they were going to a friendly country.
  11. Revolution ain’t nothing but an extent of evolution; Evolution is a fact of nature. So when old folks tell me that they don’t understand hip hop and the music is too loud, well I guess it means you’re not supposed to be in there.
  12. Because I’m a civil rights activist, I am also an animal rights activist. Animals and humans suffer and die alike. Violence causes the same pain, the same spilling of blood, the same stench of death, the same arrogant, cruel and vicious taking of life. We shouldn’t be a part of it.
  13. America will tolerate the taking of a human life without giving it a second thought. But don’t misuse a household pet.
  14. I waited at the counter of a white restaurant for eleven years. When they finally integrated, they didn’t have what I wanted.
  15. Last time I was down South I walked into this restaurant, and this white waitress came up to me and said: ‘We don’t serve colored people here.’ I said: ‘that’s all right, I don’t eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.’
  16. When you’ve got something really good, you don’t have to force it on people. They will steal it!
  17. If they took all the drugs, nicotine, alcohol and caffeine off the market for six days, they’d have to bring out the tanks to control you.
  18. I personally would say that the quickest way to wipe out a group of people is to put them on a soul food diet. One of the tragedies is that the very folks in the black community who are most sophisticated in terms of the political realities in this country are nonetheless advocates of “soul food.” They will lay down a heavy rap on genocide in America with regard to black folks, then walk into a soul food restaurant and help the genocide along.
  19. The only good thing about the good old days is they’re gone.
  20. If democracy is such a good thing, let’s have more of it.

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Alphas

Dick Gregory was a man of Alpha Phi Alpha.

On Saturday, Dick Gregory, a pioneering force of comedy in the 1960s who later became an iconic social and political activist died of heart failure at the age of 84.

“It is with enormous sadness that the Gregory family confirms that their father, comedic legend and civil rights activist Mr. Dick Gregory, departed this earth tonight in Washington, D.C.,” his son Christian Gregory said via a statement from his father’s rep. “The family appreciates the outpouring of support and love and respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

Before his fame, Gregory was a 1954 initiate of the Beta Eta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha at Southern Illinois University.

In the chapter photo below you will see him in the back row, third from the left.

Upon learning of their brother’s passing, Alpha Phi Alpha’s international Facebook page posted their condolences to the family.

As we celebrate the legacy of Brother Dick Gregory let us reflect on the following quote as we continue his legacy as men of Alpha in pursuit of justice and equality.
‘One of the things I keep learning is that the secret of being happy is doing things for other people’

Gregory’s home chapter, the Beta Eta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha at Southern Illinois University also took to Twitter to memorialize their chapter brother.

We ask that you keep Gregory’s family, friends, and fraternity brothers in your thoughts. We also ask that you share this and leave your condolences and memories of him as a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha and a member of the Black greek community so that others can see how much he meant to all of us.

“Not all great men are Alphas, but all Alphas are great men.”

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Activism

Alpha Phi Alpha Lawmaker Files Legislation to Remove All Confederate Monuments From Florida Public Property

Photo Credit: twitter.com/ShevrinJones

Florida Representative Shevrin Jones (D-West Park) a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. says he will file legislation to immediately remove all Confederate statues, signs and names from public property in Florida.

“William Faulkner once stated that ‘The past is never dead,’ but I’m here to tell you that it can damn well be buried,” the 33-year-old lawmaker said in a statement that he released this week.

“Rather than being held up as figures of celebration, it is past time we relegate these symbols of oppression and bigotry to the halls of museums where their proper context can be articulated. As one of the most proudly diverse states in our nation, Florida needs to show our citizens that we value everyone equally and will not be divided by the voices of bigotry and racism. Let’s move forward, not continue to look back, ” he stated.

While removing all of the Confederate statues, signs, and names from public property in Florida seems like a mammoth task.  Jones has succeeded at doing this on a smaller scale by being part of the successful fight to rename three streets in Hollywood, Florida, that were named after Confederate generals, Gen. Robert E. Lee, who led the Confederate Army during the Civil War, Gen. John B. Hood, a division commander at the Battle of Antietam, and Nathan Bedford Forrest, a lieutenant general said to be the first Grand Wizard of the KKK.

According to the statement he released, the vote will take place on August 30th.

Rep. Jones is a Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives, representing the 101st District, which includes southeastern Broward County. Rep. Jones is a graduate of Florida A&M University and a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha.

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