DR. MARVIN A. MCMICKLE'S Reflections on Fraternity Life in America and the incident in Oklahoma

Following is an essay by Dr. Marvin A. McMickle, President of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, published on March 11th in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle's Unite Rochester blog.

I am a proud Life Member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity which is one of the four major African American college fraternities in this country. The others are Alpha Phi Alpha, Omega Psi Phi, and Phi Beta Sigma. There are also four major black sororities; Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta (my wife’s sorority), Sigma Gamma Rho, and Zeta Phi Beta. All of these organizations of African American college educated men and women were formed between 1906 and 1925. Those were the years that the historian Rayford Logan referred to as “the nadir” or the darkest and most dangerous years to be Black in America. Those were the years when lynch-mob justice against black men and women was a common occurrence. The singer Billie Holiday referred to lynchings in her famous song Strange Fruit where she talked about black bodies hanging from trees. The link between black Greek letter organizations and the cruelty of lynch mob justice came rushing to my mind when I heard the chant being invoked by members of a white fraternity at the University of Oklahoma. They seemed to rejoice over the fact that there would never be a n…….in their fraternity. They went on to sing, “You can hang them from a tree, but they’ll never sign with me. There will never be a n………in SAE.” In point of fact, the primary reason for the existence of my fraternity that was founded in 1911 on the campus of the University of Indiana is that some whites on that campus had the same sentiment if not the same song. African Americans were not allowed to pledge or join any of the white fraternities or sororities on that campus. Alpha Phi Alpha was the first black fraternity to be founded in 1906 on the campus of Cornell University where the very same policy prevailed; whites only! The recent events at the University of Oklahoma are a reminder of how systemic and far reaching racism, segregation, and discrimination have been in this country. It has not been a story that was .limited to sharecroppers, domestic workers, and Pullman porters. The story reached to kill off the American Dream that lived within those men and women even if it was never to be true for them and for their generation. Surely, they thought, if they could work hard enough to get their children accepted to a first-rate college or university the cycle of racism could be broken. Then their children arrive on the campuses of America’s premier places of higher education only to find the “Whites Only” signs hanging on the doors and in the hearts of so many of their classmates, teachers, and administrators. Members of black fraternities and sororities exist today because of the policies that stand behind that chant from Oklahoma. We decided that since there would never be a n…….in their fraternities, we would form our own. We are proud members of our Greek letter organizations. Our friendships and networks last throughout our lives. We seek each other out when our jobs move us from one town to another. I will always boast and brag about Kappa Alpha Psi, and I will always celebrate the unique contributions that members of black Greek letter organizations have made to this country. To list the men and women who have belonged to these fraternities and sororities would be to list a Who’s Who of many of the leading figures in African American history.

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http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/unite/2015/03/12/some-reflections-on-fraternity-life-in-america/70209956/

CRCDS CONGRATULATES TRUSTEE AND FORMER ROCHESTER MAYOR WILLIAM A. JOHNSON, JR., HONORED TODAY AT URBAN LEAGUE'S 50TH ANNIVERSARY LUNCHEON

CRCDS Trustee William A. Johnson, Jr., was honored today at the Urban League of Rochester's 50th anniversary luncheon at the Radisson Hotel.

Mr. Johnson played a key part in development of the Urban League when he became head of the organization in December, 1972.  For 21 years, he grew the organization known for enabling African Americans, Latinos, the poor and disadvantaged to secure economic self-reliance, equality and civil rights.

Johnson completed three terms as Rochester, NY's 64th Mayor on December 31, 2005 and was the first African American Mayor of any major city in upstate New York.  He was first elected in 1993.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DR. MARVIN A. MCMICKLE'S THOUGHTS ON BLOODY SUNDAY, 50 YEARS LATER

Following is an essay written by Dr. Marvin A. McMickle and published in the Democrat and Chronicle's Unite Rochester blog on March 7, 2015:

I was deeply moved by the speech delivered by President Barack Obama on the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama and the battle for voting rights in this country. How remarkable that this country has changed as much as it has in the last 50 years. Those who were born in America in the last 30-35 years cannot imagine the racial practices in this country that were rigidly enforced both by law and by brute force.

They cannot imagine my great-great uncle, Edward Doneghy who was shot and killed at the voter registration office in Danville, Kentucky on November 7,1930 simply because he was a black man attempting to register to vote in the United States of America. It is hard to imagine how this nation moved from the murder of Edward Doneghy to the election and re-election of Barack Obama. That remarkable journey would not have been possible without the events that unfolded on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965. However, as President Obama pointed out in his speech today, once again voting rights for all Americans are again under attack. Many states, including North Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, Virginia, Indiana, and several others immediately established voting restrictions after the U.S. Supreme Court weakened key provisions of the very Voting Rights Act that had led to our nation's first African American president.

It is almost as if many of our conservative Republican neighbors seem determined not to let another African American or another progressive politician be elected to our nation's highest office. Of course, the president also noted that far too many Americans, including African Americans fail to vote on Election Day, and in doing so dishonor the memory and the sacrifice of those who bled on the Edmund Pettus Bridge and those who died to gain the right to vote for African Americans and later for women.

The best way to push back against those who want to limit voting rights is to be sure that every person registered to vote does so on every Election Day. Beyond that, pressure must be exerted in states across this country to resist and refuse to accept the changes currently being made regarding the right to vote. The idea that these changes are designed to prevent voter fraud is bogus to the core, since no significant instances of voter fraud have ever been discovered in any of those states. Restrictions in voting rights are not about protecting our democracy; they are about intentionally limiting those who are allowed to participate in our democracy. When you consider restrictions on voting rights along with another U.S. Supreme Court ruling that has allowed unlimited financial contributions to flow into political campaigns from anonymous donors, you can see that democracy itself is under attack.

Just as brave people fought to protect voting rights 50 years ago in Selma, people across America will have to call upon their courage to fight that same battle again today.

To view or comment on this essay online, please click here: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/unite/2015/03/07/bloody-sunday-fifty-years-later/24575715/

 

RETIRED ROCHESTER CITY POLICE CHIEF JAMES L. SHEPPARD LEADS FORUM AT CRCDS

On Monday, March 2, 2015, members of the public joined students, staff and faculty to hear retired Rochester City Police Chief James L. Sheppard discuss police policy, procedures and training in reference to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. and recent controversial minority altercations with police.

In a student-inspired Question-and-Answer forum, Mr. Sheppard talked about assessing and handling potentially dangerous situations as well as the challenges police officers and citizens face.

To view news coverage of this forum, please click here: http://www.rochesterhomepage.net/story/d/story/former-rpd-chief-addresses-police-use-of-force-deb/36799/PiN3JSAxpkyAP8-vcUQQJg

 

 

 

 

LEARNING A LESSON FROM SOCRATES: DR. MARVIN A. MCMICKLE'S UNITE ROCHESTER BLOG

Reading "Black Prophetic Fire" by Cornel West and Christa Buschendorf I was reminded of the Greek word "parrhesia" which is pronounced par-he-see-ah. It means the pattern of speaking the truth boldly and freely without any regard for the speaker's safety or security. West reminds us that parrhesia was a style of speaking used by Socrates in Plato's Apology.

Of even more importance for me is that the same word appears throughout the Book of Acts in the New Testament regarding the bold preaching of Peter, James, and Paul who preached about Christ in the Greco-Roman world without fear or hesitation. With that word in mind, I think it is well past time for people in this country to find the courage for some "parrhesia"on our part. In the face of poverty, violent crime, racism, student conduct in downtown Rochester, and an unending stream of attacks on voting rights that could affect millions of Americans it is time for some "parrhesia."

We need some "parrhesia" whether it comes from clergy of all races and religions, from public officials that are entrusted with safeguarding the common good, journalists and writers that report what they see occurring in our society, or educators whose values need to extend beyond the safe confines of their classrooms. Not much will change in our society and in our world if people of influence are determined to speak only those things that are pleasing and acceptable to everyone and are never willing to put themselves at risk in any way. The people who most transformed this country were quite often those who engaged in "parrhesia." Think about the founders of this country in their attacks on King George III and the British Empire.

Think about abolitionists, suffragettes, civil rights leaders, anti-war activists during the Viet Nam War era, or the Occupy Movement and their attacks on issues of the growing wealth disparity in this country. In every instance, these people engaged in what the ancient Greeks call "parrhesia." They all ran a risk, they faced the possibility of some serious reprisal, and they all understood that nothing will change and no injustice will be ended until people with strong convictions find the courage to go public with their views and values. As Edmund Burke said, "The only thing needed for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing."

There is something that good people can do; they can practice the art of "parrhesia.

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