I started tracking stories about Black Greeks a few months ago and I have noticed some really nice media coverage from around the nation. Before the Black Greek versions of “nattering nabobs of negativity” throw hazing and lawsuit stories in my face, especially in light of my previous entry “Ten Things to Think About Before Hazing”, let me make it clear that I am on a personal mission to promote the successes of Black Greek-Letter Organizations, as well as produce intelligent conversation about our sustainability.
Here are stories from January to March of 2014 that document chapters or individuals who demonstrated some level of community impact in the name of their respective organizations. Do you think your chapter, brother, or soror deserves some love in the media? I suggest organizing a chapter publicity committee with the help of a public relations professional, even if that professional is not a member of your organization.
With fundraising for HBCUs becoming such a big topic over the years, Virginia State alumni Kappa men set an example of how powerful brotherhood and dedication can be. Technically the story is just over a year old, but WatchtheYard.com reminded us of this outstanding effort by posting it in February. Besides, stories like this should never go away.
Delta Sigma Theta’s Louisville Alumnae chapter decided to extend their outreach overseas. Thanks to the efforts of the chapter, the sorority, the Kikuyu Neighborhood, and educator Dismas Mushi, the Kikuyu Community Library became a reality.
Having been a public relations director, I know how difficult it can be for a black organization to earn the endorsement of a major newspaper. Delta’s Rutherford County Alumnae chapter teamed up with the NAACP’s Murfreesboro Branch and did just that. The two organizations earned praise from The Daily News Journal in Tennessee when they held public forums for the Murfreesboro races for mayor, city council, and board of education.
Members of an Alpha Kappa Alpha chapter in the Bahamas stepped outside of the normal Black Greek social awareness box. The Eta Psi Omega chapter launched its Denim and Pearls initiative, using denim to represent navy blue, the official color for human trafficking awareness. The AKAs started the initiative for Global Human Trafficking Awareness Day while honoring the sorority’s commitment to gender equality.
The sorority’s national initiative, A3 4Life, was recognized as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognized organizations that work to reduce HIV/AIDS among African American women and Latinas. Sigma Gamma Rho educates its chapters and sorors about HIV/AIDS while actively encouraging them to partner with community organizations to conduct outreach. The sorority was also recognized on AIDS.gov for their participation in World AIDS Day 2013.
There are two sides to the honorary membership game. Yes, we brag on celebrities becoming our honorary brothers and sorors but the folks who are offered these memberships could always decline. Harry Belafonte’s accepting honorary membership into Phi Beta Sigma is a credit to the fraternity because of his contributions to the civil and human rights movements. Besides, one of my favorite childhood memories is his drum duet with Animal on “The Muppet Show”.
Unfortunately, many Black Greek college chapters are known for not performing up to par, academically. Of the 15 sororities at Oregon, AKA’s Sigma Delta chapter proved to be mighty Ducks by topping their peers with a chapter GPA of 3.29. Yes, there are only three AKAs on campus but I have seen chapters of five or fewer do much worse.
Delta’s Frederick Alumnae chapter got help from Frederick County Workforce Services, the Department of the Army, and State Farm to give job seekers a boost for their searches. The organizations helped the Maryland chapter give job seekers assistance with their résumés and practicing face-to-face interviews.
As a job recruiting consultant, I know how important it is for a job seeker to make a great first impression in an interview or at a job fair regardless of the challenges he or she has. Zeta Phi Beta’s Delta Zeta chapter in Charlotte held a clothing drive for those who cannot afford attire for their respective job searches. Outreach such as this should never be underestimated, especially in the black community.
Rashad Mitchell, a student at the University of Louisville and an Iota man, was captured by a local television news station standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a grass roots community coalition called Man Up. It is normal for Black Greek fraternity men to either lead or participate in these types of coalitions all over the country, but seeing proof of this kind of involvement in the media has a much more significant impact on the community’s perception of Black Greeks.