Alpha Men Have a Ball
The Alpha Pi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. held its Founders’ Day Ball Friday night at the Anderson Center on the campus of Winston-Salem State University.
The annual ball celebrates the rich heritage of the fraternity, which at 106-years-old is the oldest of the African American Greek Letter organizations. From Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Alpha Men have always been trailblazers and leaders. Local members are continuing the tradition of excellence. The Alpha Pi Lambda Chapter is made up of noted men who excelled not only in their professions but in also serving their community.
“If you’re truly committed to not only personal advancement but also working to help others advance, (Alpha Phi Alpha is) a wonderful organization to be a part of,” said Alpha brother Blake Morant, the dean of the Wake Forest University School of Law.
Morant was among the more than 300 people in attendance at the ball, a formal occasion where the men wore tuxedos and the ladies donned gowns. The Alpha Pi Lambda Chapter, which was founded in 1931 and is made up of about 80 members, had a lot to celebrate. Last month, the chapter hosted a convention of Alpha chapters from across the state. As part of the convention, an Alpha Pi Lambda-led project was held at Old Town Elementary School that saw Alpha Men from various North Carolina cities and towns reading to students.
Charlie Wall, an Alpha and assistant principal at the school, said the project was a hit with both teachers and students.
“(The Alphas) were well dressed; they were professional men. They came in and read. They were actually engaged … It was great,” he said.
Chapter President Emery Rann said the brothers plan to continue to support Old Town, a school on Reynolda Road with a largely black and Hispanic student population. The chapter’s recent community service projects included a voter registration drive at the downtown transit center and fundraising for Big Brothers Big Sisters and the March of Dimes, said Rann, executive director of Forsyth County Mediation Services and pastor of Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Church in Woodleaf.
The money raised as a result of Saturday’s ball will help the chapter to continue to provide scholarships to college-bound young men.
“I think you see how folks are still wedded to the values (that) we originally joined the fraternity for: ‘First of all, servants of all, we shall transcend all’ and people take real pride in that,” Rann said.
After attendees dined and in between performances by the Phase Band, several new fraternity members were presented with the Seven Jewels awards, an honor that pays homage to the seven men who founded the fraternity at Cornell University on Dec. 4, 1906. S. Wayne Patterson, an Alpha who chaired the ball, was given the Brother of the Year award for his work as an attorney and president of the local NAACP chapter. Jesse Hymes received an award to celebrate his 25th year as an Alpha.
The chapter’s most senior Alphas – Dr. Willard McCloud Sr., Donald Benson, Willie Clark, Herman Burney, James M. Jones and Calvert Jeffers – received a special tribute. They were given seats of honor as their fellow fraternity brothers formed a semi-circle around them while crossing their arms, joining hands and singing the Alpha Phi Alpha hymn.
McCloud, a retired physician who joined the fraternity in 1942 at Talladega College in Alabama, holds the distinction of being the North Carolina Alpha with the longest tenure in the fraternity.
“It’s been 70 years of fellowship and fond memories,” said McCloud, whose son is also a doctor and an Alpha.