Fraternity attends 50th Anniversary of Selma March


Photo by: Submitted Photo

Members of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity: Raymond Nichols, Andrew Carter, Phazal Hines and Joshua Dewey (left to right) on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in downtown Selma.

Desmond Hunter, Lagniappe Editor

Fifty years after a historic march that jumpstarted the civil rights movement, members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity remain focused on the goals of those who sacrificed to change a nation.

Crowds gathered to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the march that took place in Selma, Alabama known as “Bloody Sunday.” Marchers attended to reflect on the sacrifices of the original group of people that assembled at the same bridge half a century ago. People of all races paraded across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in downtown Selma, remembering those who were clubbed and tear-gassed by police officials after peacefully crossing the bridge Mar. 7, 1965.

The protest years ago was against the denial of civil rights to Americans due to the color of their of skin. The demonstration ultimately led to more peaceful protests and boycotts, which made way for Voting Acts of 1965. Former Atlanta Mayor and U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, Rev. Jessie Jackson and also President Barack Obama were among those in attendance during the commemoration. Also in attendance were members of the Kappa Mu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

Alpha Phi Alpha is the first Black, inter-collegiate Greek-lettered fraternity. Phazal C. Hines, president of the Kappa Mu Chapter, described the energy of the event as breathtaking.

“It almost felt unreal to be apart of such a great commemoration. As we walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, we could only imagine what took place right under our feet just 50 years ago,” Hines said. “My chapter brothers and I looked at each other and asked ourselves, what would we be doing at this moment if we were alive 50 years ago? It almost felt unreal to be apart of such a great commemoration.”

The Kappa Mu Chapter was created on Nicholls campus on Mar. 22, 1975 and now has 8 active members.

Arguably the most prolific face of the Civil Rights movements, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was also a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. King, who led the famous march that day in Selma, joined the fraternity in 1952. He pledged while attending Morehouse College but was initiated while studying at Boston College.

Members of Alpha Phi Alpha who attended the remembrance of “Bloody Sunday” also weighed in on views going forward, and how they feel about the progress the U.S. has taken since the 1960s.

The event brought out many emotions from both older and younger generations. Individuals from older generations can relate to past experiences, and understand how far we’ve come as a nation since that unpleasant time in American history. As for the younger generations, relating to the past usually comes from history textbooks and documentaries. It’s harder for someone who can’t relate to having to sit in the back of buses to feel like they’ve “overcome” a situation, especially when examples of discrimination and racism still exists today in America.

“It made me realize that there is a need for young adults in my generation to make a change. Seeing the leaders of the past helped me realize the need for those in my generation to continue the trend,” Hines said. “We must find it with in ourselves to value our right to vote and to express it at all opportunities.”

Going forward, educating younger generations to vote remains one of the many goals of the members of Alpha Phi Alpha. Voting and education is key to the fraternity in progressing what is still a racial divide within America.

“Alpha Phi Alpha’s national program, A Voteless People is a Hopeless People, focuses on voter education and registration. As leaders of today’s society and leaders of our generation, it’s our responsibility to educate and to grab the attention of our peers,” Hines said.