The Kappas are in town for their annual convention. DC Mayor Adrian Fenty is a Kappa, (along with John Singleton, talk show host Tavis Smiley, and Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) to mention a few of the well known) , and has given the Fraternity a warm welcome. Kappas take pride in being well dressed, and are well known around many campuses for sporting their red and white canes at step shows and other functions.
Several thousand nattily dressed young and older men, distinguished by their crimson suit jackets, have been encamped at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel this week. They are members of Kappa Alpha Psi — a predominantly black fraternity founded in 1911 — and although they are holding their first large gathering since the election of the nation’s first African American president, they’re beyond swooning over Obama’s achievement.
That’s because they have serious work to do.
“Our membership is astute,” says Richard Lee Snow, executive director of the fraternity, which drew more than 3,000 members to its 79th Grand Chapter meeting. “Obama can’t turn around all of the ills this nation has built up since blacks were brought over here on ships. Obama is not a savior. But he is a breath of fresh air, and we fully embrace him and his administration.”
Boosting philanthropic giving, reducing obesity, improving access to preventive health care and increasing financial literacy and college graduation rates for black men topped the convention agenda. In the coming year, the last two priorities will receive the most attention from the fraternity, which has almost 200,000 members spread across 700 chapters, some of them abroad…
Like most black Greek groups, the Kappas are not just about fellowship. They are serious about community, charity, and assisting younger folks in becoming successful adults.
Dwayne M. Murray is the Grand Polemarch of the Kappa organization -
Murray is also determined to change the perception that blacks have a lackluster record when it comes to philanthropy. “We want to be not always on the receiving end, but on the giving end,” he says. “To that end, we’ve raised over $800,000, which we have given to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.”
In 2011, the Kappas will celebrate their centennial.