Danny J. Bakewell, Jr., Special to the NNPA from the Los Angeles Sentinel –
The Noble Men of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated celebrated their 80th Grand Chapter Meeting and the 100th year of their founding by going home to the founding place of the Fraternity (Indiana University). More than 20,000 members of Kappa Alpha Psi spent a week in Indianapolis, Indiana fellowshipping, paying tribute to the 10 Great Founders of the Fraternity and re-uniting with other members of the fraternity some they had not seen since their college days and others they had just met for the first time.
"This is a conclave like no other, this is a celebration of the achievements of our fraternity, its individual members and the brotherhood that we have all shared in Kappa" noted Fresno City Councilmember, Oliver Baines who was there representing the Fresno Alumni Chapter of the fraternity.
The week started off with 4th of July festivities for the members coming in to participate in the 80th Grand Chapter meeting and continued throughout the week with such notable events as an all star comedy show lead by famed members of the fraternity Cedric The Entertainer and Nephew Tommie of the Steve Harvey Show. It also featured a concert by Grammy award winning songstress Toni Braxton, who noted during her show "She Loved a Kappa Man."
Brothers from all over the world converged on Indianapolis to celebrate this noted occasion, Gil Brown, Vice Polemarch of the Western Province of Kappa, which represents all of the Western United States and Japan said of the 100th year anniversary of the fraternity: "The 80th Grand Chapter Meeting was a life changer. Walking on the campus of Indiana University one could visualize what it was like for our Founders, the 10 visionaries that formed an organization as relevant now as it was 100 years ago. "
The Grand Chapter meeting was not all fun and games, the brothers of Kappa also came to handle much of the business of the fraternity. Outgoing Grand Polemarch Dewayne M. Murray recapped his four years of overseeing the fraternity's operations by noting a number of the fraternity's accomplishments including raising more than $1 Million Dollars for St. Jude's Hospital, which focuses on providing free medical treatment for children. During Murray's tenure as Polemarch, it was also noted that Kappa had raised tens of thousands of dollars for Haiti relief victims, and hundreds of thousands of dollars for Piney Woods School, a boarding school adopted by Kappa Alpha Psi, which has a remarkably high rate of sending their students (predominantly African American Males) on to four year colleges and universities throughout the nation. It was also noted that Kappa Alpha Psi through its members played a major role in the campaign and operations of getting President Barack Obama and other key political figures throughout the nation elected during the past several years.
Grand Polemarch Dewayne Murray's administration lead a variety of community initiatives which under his administration has been called "One Kappa." The Murray administration also celebrated that this 30th administration of the fraternity has guided the fraternity into an outstanding financial position where during the meeting Kappa Alpha Psi Grand Keeper of Records & Exchequer Alfred "Al" White ceremonially burned the fraternities last note (line of credit) and celebrated that the fraternity was now moving into the next 100 years 100% debt free and in a very strong financial position. I was certainly noted and received by thunderous applause that this is an incredible accomplishment during these very challenging economic times.
After celebrating and honoring the past four years - and two terms - of now Past Grand Polemarch Dewayne M. Murray, the fraternity elected unanimously its 32nd Grand Polemarch William Randy Bates, Jr., Esq. who will now serve as the leader, and spokesman of the fraternity as it moves into its next century.
In his address to the members upon assuming this leadership post Polemarch Bates stated, "When a person ascends to a high office like the Grand Polemarch, he is compelled to reflect on the lives of those who were instrumental in their achievements. My humility takes me swiftly to that place, where a few people whose shoulders I have stood on, must be recognized."
To the members of the fraternity he charged, "My Brothers, we are on the Sesquicentennial train, filled with memories of a people who survived the middle passage, and the brutal aftermath of oppression; it's filled by elders and brothers continuing to implement our founder's vision; and the greatest anticipation that boys yet unborn, will hear the clarion call of Kappa, bidding them to meet us somewhere along the track in years to come, where they will crave to sit at the Kappa table.
I pray that God will sustain us throughout our journey, and that peace and love will abound, as we continue to walk by faith. Let us know for sure, that "the steps of a good man, are ordered by the Lord, obey His teachings and our journey will be safe and abounding with abundance."
California Brothers of the fraternity were well represented at this 80th Grand Chapter Meeting, Brothers from Los Angeles, Pasadena, Long Beach, Inglewood- South Bay, Anaheim-Irvine, Berkeley, Fresno, San Diego, Ventura, Vallejo-Fairfield and Monterey Alumni Chapters were all in attendance. Undergraduate members of the fraternity were equally represented by chapter members from USC, Loyola Marymount, Berkeley, Fresno State, UCLA, UCI, CSUMB, Occidental College and CSULB just to name a few.
James Batiste, Polemarch of Los Angeles Alumni Chapter when asked about his journey back to the home of Kappa stated, "The Los Angeles Alumni contingency of Kappa Alpha Psi was represented by over 80 members at this Centennial Celebration. The opportunity to reenact, reflect, and to return to where the Ten Founders started, all brought about a sense of gratitude and inspiration to all of us for their efforts. The experience truly touched every member present, from those who have been in the Fraternity for over 50 years, to those who have been in the Fraternity for only five Months. It was an experience which will never be forgotten, an experience which will inspire a vigorous reclamation effort, and one which will require all Kappa's to become vibrant community servants and contributors in Los Angeles and throughout our nation."
Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity was founded in 1911 at Indiana University (It should be noted that Indiana is home to the Ku Klux Klan) during a time when Black Men found life on a white campus like Indiana University very difficult. The men who founded Kappa Alpha Psi were: Elder Watson Diggs, Dr. Byron K. Armstrong, Dr. Ezra Dee Alexander, Atty. Henry Tourner Asher, Dr. Marcus Peter Blakemore, Paul Waymond Caine, Dr. Guy Levis Grant, Edward Giles Irvin, John Milton Lee and George Wesley Edmonds.