Progressive Legacy: Iota Frater Steve Birdine
Many suffer from the afflictions of being unmotivated or unfocused, not only while in school, but in life. It takes the essence of someone who has not only been in similar circumstances but overcome them to influence and help facilitate change. Iota Frater Steve Birdine made it his mission to motivate others through the power of voice. He is an internationally renowned speaker who has spoken at over 450 institutions, conferences, and businesses.
Growing up, Birdine was the middle child of an older sister and younger brother. Though Birdine’s household was filled with the pain of alcoholic parents and the struggles of welfare, he still experienced a pleasant childhood.
“We played outside all day in the summer time,” Birdine says. “Baseball was my favorite sport growing up. I didn’t know I was poor because everyone else was poor.”
Realizing the value of education, Birdine excelled through high school and went on to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He majored in Journalism, where his first article criticized the Black Greek system at the university.
He made the decision to join Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. because he believes in the motto “Building A Tradition…Not Resting Upon One”, and as the youngest organization in the council, they had a solid opportunity to shape the future of the NPHC.
He not only received a B.S. in News-Editorial Journalism but continued to receive his degree in M.S. in Radio-TV Journalism.
He spent fifteen years in higher education. He began his career as the Assistant Black Cultural Center Director at his Alma mater. He then became the Director of the Marcus Garvey Cultural Center at the University of Northern Colorado, and most recently, the Coordinator of Diversity Programs at Indiana University-Bloomington.
In 1999, he made the decision to become a full-time speaker, creating the business, Affirmations In Action. The consulting firm hosts programs that educate, build life skills, leadership development, academic excellence and motivation, and nurture positive attitudes.
Though he began to motivate others, he always remained dedicated to his fraternal commitments. He joined the Kappa Omega Alumni chapter in Champaign, IL after graduating and has been an active member since. He served as the Midwest Regional Director, now known as Polaris, the Grand Vice Polaris, and served as a member of Iota’s Board of Directors. From 2001-2005, he served as the 18th International Grand Polaris of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. He describes his journey in Iota as a learning/teaching ground.
“I have been honored to meet some people who have helped me through the toughest times in my life,” Birdine states. “I would not trade those friendships for anything in the world.”
He has spanned a variety of venues, including Leadership Development programs, Orientation day programming, Diversity/Social Justice programming, and other speaking engagements.
One of the most impactful moments he had in public speaking was in the form of an evaluation letter. Birdine describes it as one of the most impactful moments in his public speaking history.
“I am thankful for you. Cuz, I honestly was on the verge of suicide,” read the evaluation. “If I did not go to the conference and hear your encouragement, I probably would be dead. And I thank you and I will give your card to my superintendent tomorrow. More people need to hear you speak.”
Birdine co-hosts a weekly internet radio program called, “The Man Show”, which focuses specifically on African-American males.
“I still believe that America needs a strong NPHC and individual organizations now more than ever,” Birdine stresses.
Though Birdine has spent 34 years in his organization, he does not let it define him. He has certainly lived up to his line name “Potential Threat”, but in opposing negative stereotypes and self-defeating thoughts. He hopes to continue the legacy of educating, motivating, and stimulating minds.
Birdine was honored as the first back to back recipient of Iota Phi Theta’s Graduate Brother of the Year award. He was named “One of America’s Most Influential African-Americans” by Ebony Magazine from 2001-2005. He received the key to the city and day named after him in Louisville, Kentucky.