Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Vision and Brotherhood

On January 5 in Black History…
 "When there is no vision, there is no hope.”
 George Washington Carver

In 1943….. George Washington Carver Day is now celebrated on January 5 in honor of the brilliant agricultural chemist who died on this day in 1943.  A Time Magazine article in 1941 dubbed Carver the “Black Leonardo da Vinci.”   Also nicknamed "the Peanut Man" and the "Wizard of Tuskegee," Carver headed the agricultural department of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and was one of the most prominent scientists of his day. He was renowned for finding new uses for everyday items and his research in improved farming techniques helped to revolutionize farming in America. Carver was also an artist. One of his most important roles was in undermining, through the fame of his achievements and many talents, the widespread stereotype of the time that the black race was intellectually inferior to the white race.  for his lifetime of contributions in science, art and history.

In 1911, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. was founded at Indiana University by Elder W. Diggs, Bryan K. Armstrong, John M. Lee, Harvey T. Asher, Marcus P. Blakemore, Guy L. Grant, Paul Caine, George Edmonds, Ezera D. Alexander and Edward G. Irvin. The fraternity was founded at a time when very few black on the majority white campus and they were often were discouraged from attending student functions and extracurricular activities by white college administrators and fellow students. They sought to form a democratic fraternity with a basis that took root from the United States constitution. Kappa Alpha Nu was adopted and incorporated in May 1911 prior to being changed to Kappa Alpha Psi.(Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.).
Today black fraternities and sororities are still a part of the college experience and continue to be involved in the community. Kappa Alpha Psi itself sponsors programs providing community service, social welfare and academic scholarship through the Kappa Alpha Psi Foundation and is a supporter of the United Negro College Fund and Habitat for Humanity. As our society and black culture have evolved over the last century, some people today question the relevance of the black fraternity to society…even beyond the college experience. 
Today, I had a chance to catch up with Edward Lee Cook, Jr.(pictured right) of Durham, NC, lifetime member of Kappa Alpha Psi to discuss the relevance of the black fraternity in today's culture. Cook was recently voted Kappa Man of the Year by the Durham, North Carolina Kappa Alpha Psi alumni chapter and is also CEO of Elite Status Entertainment.
  • EH: Tell me about your experience with Kappa Alpha Psi. 
    Cook: When I uprooted from SC and transferred from Voorhees College in South Carolina to NC Central University in North Carolina, I had already pledged Kappa at Voorhees and the brotherhood helped me through that transition. If it was not for Kappa, I would not be who I am today. The brotherhood gave me what I did not have as a child.
    EH: Do you think the Black fraternity is relevant to today's society...beyond the college experience? 
    Cook: Yes it is absolutely relevant. Even now, the networking opportunities available to me are not just within Kappa but extends to the Divine 9. I have resources available to me through the entire global network of the Kappa brotherhood. 
    EH: How is the Black fraternity relevant to our Black culture and communities today?
    Cook: In Kappa Alpha Psi we are dedicated to community service through our local chapters. Our Durham local chapter is heavily involed with the local community. For example, we have a big brother program with R.N. Harris Elementary School and we tutor male students..primarily minority, but we tutor students of all ethnic backgrounds. Another example is Beautillion Educational Assistance Program, a 9 month program where we teach male students about leadership, dealing finances, and other issues to prepare them for college. These students also participate in fundraising efforts and get to keep a significant portion of the monies raised for scholarships.

    EH: You're a lifetime member? What keeps you active?
    Cook: Yes I have been a lifetime member since 1998. I do it because I love it and want to reach other young black men.
You can learn more about Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. on their website,

You can learn more about Edward Lee Cook, Jr. on his website,

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