Fraternity Row

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Category: Our History
Published on Sunday, 26 August 2012 15:24
Written by Deborah Charles

Greek Letter Fraternities have deep roots in our community.

Three of the top Greek letter fraternities have and/or had a strong physical presence in our community; Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi and Omega Psi Phi.

A fraternity is an organized society of men associated together in an environment of companionship and brotherhood; dedicated to the intellectual, physical, and social development of its members.

The three fraternity organizations established their frat houses on Crenshaw Boulevard between Washington and Venice Boulevards. starting back in the 1950’s. The fraternity houses were far away from the college and university campuses because they were black and therefore not allowed nor recognized on the major campuses. This ban from the college campuses created a cultural stronghold of community involvement for the fraternities. For a short time in the early 1980’s, the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity was allowed to take over a house on the campus of USC when a white fraternity was suspended...until the suspension ended.

The Alpha’s, Kappa’s and Omega’s became icons of the community through their philanthropic projects, sponsoring of major social events such as debutant balls, and they worked together to form an annual inter-fraternal basketball tournament played at Loyola High School in the 1970’s.

During a scholarship awards luncheon sponsored by Alpha Phi Alpha, (the first intercollegiate Greek letter fraternity established for African Americans and founded at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York in 1906) the alumni chapter, Beta Psi Lambda, awarded college scholarships to five inner city young men graduating from High School class of 2012. The Alpha’s have over 185,000 members worldwide.

One of our most famous Angelinos, the late Mayor Tom Bradley, the first African American Mayor of Los Angeles was a Kappa Alpha Psi. The Kappa’s continue to support initiatives designed to encourage young men towards scholastic achievement and the development of leadership skills. They now have over 150,000 members worldwide.

The Los Angeles Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi has definitely kept to their Cardinal Principles over the years which are Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance and Uplift. Their visibility and works here in the community have been based around supporting health initiatives e.g. Charles Drew Blood Drive and partnering with the American Diabetes Association as well as promoting voter registration. The Omega’s now have over 750 chapters worldwide.

The Greek letter African American fraternities along with some Latino fraternities have had a significant impact on the movie culture here in Los Angeles/Hollywood by creating a certain curiosity about fraternal life; some of the movies you may remember; School Daze, Drumline, Mae and Me, Stomp the Yard and the newest to hit the theatre – Step Up Revolution.

 

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