The Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Con vention Center was filled with gentlemen sporting red jackets recently, as members of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. showcased their colors in the Capital City during activities hosted for the organization’s 59th annual meeting of the Southern Province Council.
Paying tribute to the fraternity’s colors, the jackets were a common sight during their four-day stay in Montgomery. Members of the fraternity’s Montgomery Alumni Chapter hosted the regional event that opened on a Thursday with a public meeting and reception and closed late Saturday night with an invitational ball.
To make the experience memorable, forums and business meetings were paired with social, cultural and civic activities; and spouses of fraternity members, called “Silhouettes,” assisted in making plans for visitors to enjoy the historic sites of the city.
During the special weekend, Montgomery chapter member Ralph Bryson, who also serves as the national organization’s grand historian, recalled the events surrounding the fourth gathering of province members, which the local chapter hosted in 1954 when the late Ralph David Abernathy served as its president.
Fifty-five years later, current president Daniel Harris Jr. joined Bryson and more than 100 active local members to welcome over 700 collegiate and graduate professional delegates and their families to our city for a return visit that celebrated the area’s rich history.
60 years of brotherhood
As the largest chapter in the province, Montgomery alumni members were honored to welcome visitors from Florida, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands and across Alabama to the long weekend that also served as an official observance of the local chapter’s 60th anniversary.
Southern Province president Ronald Range of Tuscaloosa was among those welcoming Kappas to the regional festivities, and applauding the Capital City fraternity members on their six decades of commitment and service to the national organization and the local communities.
Focusing on the theme “One Kappa, Creating Inspiration: A Call to Service” over the weekend, Range also recognized the achievements of Kappas, and motivated them during these tough economic times to serve as stronger forces in answering the call through service and community partnerships.
Local chapter officers Pernell Jenkins; Daniel Ward, William Gary Sr., David Burkette, DeAndre Meadows, Donald Wilder and Calvin Cooper were among those helping to support the theme with chapter treasurer John Ivery Sr., who also is serving on the Province Planning Committee.
The committee took full advantage of opportunities to showcase the city as Thursday’s official activities got under way with exhibits and meetings during the day. A public meeting and reception that evening featured tributes of appreciation and recognition of outstanding achievements.
Montgomery County Circuit
Court Judge Johnny Hardwick served as the speaker during the event, whose attendees included Kevin Nero, Walter Bragg, Fred Briers III, Michael Briddell, David Burkette and Willie Grissett of the Atmore Alumni.
The E.D. Nixon Elementary School Choir entertained for the opening event, with state Rep. John Knight and Julas Taylor of the Pan Hellenic Council among the guests. Also there was Randy Bates of Houston, the senior grand vice president of the national organization, who represented the Grand Chapter on behalf of Dwayne Murray.
Focus on achievement
The fraternity emphasized its purpose to motivate young men to seek higher levels of achievement. So the province gatherings were wonderful opportunities for the fraternity to highlight its youth, mentoring and scholarship programs and to recognize individuals in the community.
Kappa Bernard Jones, director of the Montgomery Alumni Chapter’s Guide Right program, received the Polemarch’s Award for his local emphasis on the national program that promotes educational, occupational and social development among middle/junior high school-age students.
Awards chairman C.C. Baker and Ennis McCorvey III were among those who congratulated local scholarship recipients Wade Manora Jr., a student at St. Jude High School; Arthur Kelley of G.W. Carver High School; and Gene Sludge of Sidney Lanier High School; as well as Willie Jones, director of the Cleveland Avenue YMCA, the recipient of the fraternity’s Citizen of the Year award. Brandon Folks had been selected by his peers for the Kappa Man of the Year honor, which is bestowed to one who has gone above and beyond in carrying out the work of the fraternity.
After a morning of business meetings, members enjoyed a short walk to the Union Station Train Shed at the Visitor’s Center for a cook out arranged by Willie Cliff Hall. All met for the “eat and greet” picnic, which featured a step-show and other activities for entertainment.
Just before sunset, the casual afternoon gathering gave way to a pleasurable riverboat ride aboard the Harriot II. DJ ’6′ performed on one level of the boat, and a local singer entertained on another, a highlight of the evening that continued with undergraduate fraternity members and their dates enjoying a Red and White Dance hosted back at the Convention Center.
Troy Massey presided at Saturday morning’s Scholarship Breakfast, featuring Col. Legrand Burge Jr. as the guest speaker, and chapter program awards, including the “best Kappa League” program.
Isaiah Allen II, junior province vice president for Alabama, was the speaker for the midday Undergraduate Luncheon. Among the guests were Harry Vanness and other members of the Beta Zeta Chapter at Alabama State University; John Woodard III and members of the Omicron Lambda Chapter at Auburn Montgomery; a new chapter being established at Huntingdon College, and a host of other members of collegiate chapters in the Southern Province.
A half century or more
An early evening reception was hosted Saturday to honor those in the province who are 50-year members of the fraternity, as well as those who have achieved life membership status.
Among those recognized from Montgomery included Lindsey Ray, George Alexander, Ralph Bryson, C.C. Baker, Franklin Porter, L.C. Handy, George Williams Jr., William Gary Sr., John Jones, Ras McCreary, John Ivery Sr., Walter Bush, Shelby Crawford and Leroy Smith.
Myron Rolle arrived from Tallahassee, Fla., to serve as the guest speaker for the fraternity’s closed banquet that evening. The gentlemen were interested in hearing from Rolle, who had the opportunity to be selected to go to the NFL, but turned that down to attend Oxford University in England as a Rhodes Scholar.
With service and inspiration highlighted over the long weekend, a late night celebration Saturday heralded the conclusion of the Southern Province Council’s gathering.
Members and their spouses or special guests arrived at the convention center for the Province Ball to continue a tradition begun by the Montgomery Alumni Chapter. Each spring, the chapter has hosted a Black and White Ball to entertain its members and community guests. Due to the chapter’s involvement with the regional event, they did not host their own ball this year, but asked guests to arrive in ensembles reflecting the ball’s traditional color scheme.
They not only obliged, but kept the dance floor packed until two in the morning, as the Far Side band from Birmingham provided continuous music for the closing celebration.
Basking in the afterglow of a successful Southern Province gathering, local Kappas have received words of praise from their visiting fraternity brothers. They look forward to seeing many of them at the national conference in Washington, which will be held at the beginning of August. During festivities there, Ralph Bryson will be among four fraternity members honored with the Laurel Wreath, the highest honor bestowed by the national organization.
Deborah Hayes Moore writes about society news for the Montgomery Advertiser. She may be reached by voicemail at 956-0254, by fax at 288-6404, or by e-mail at dmougins
Filed Under: Alumni Newswire
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