It’s the journey that matters most!
On December 4, 1906, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. was founded at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. The first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African American men, the seven founding fathers, known as the “Jewels” of the fraternity, saw a need for strong brotherhood among African descendants in America. From that first brotherhood has come more than a century of “scholarship, fellowship, good character, and the uplifting of humanity.” Recently, we partnered with Hyundai to sit down with some of the men of Alpha Phi Alpha to examine what the next century of service looks like for their Divine Journey.
Real estate developer Brandon Rule and educator Tamir Harper are two proud members of Alpha Phi Alpha who said they first fell in love with the fraternity at early ages. Rule was brought in during his college years with Harper saying he can remember wanting to join the fraternity even in high school. They both credit the brotherhood with giving them an impenetrable sense of community, something they deem necessary as Black men.
“Being a member of Alpha Phi Alpha means everything to me. Manly deeds, scholarship, and love for all mankind. Every Alpha knows those terms. I think the most important piece is the brotherhood. Brotherhood to me means everything,” said Rule.
“No matter where I go, no matter what circumstance happened, I know there’s a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated on the side of me, behind me in the front, holding it down and ensuring that we go through the trials and tribulations together and that we get through them and come out even better,” added Harper.
While their journeys haven’t been easy, Rule experiencing homelessness twice during his formative years, and Harper navigating the pressures and disparities of growing up in an underserved neighborhood in Philadelphia, it is the brotherhood that have helped them turn pain into purpose. Being around other men who could relate and seeing the evolution of their fellow brothers has been inspiring to say the least.
They’ve thought back to the distinguished men who have also been proud brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha, men like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and philosopher Cornel West and it reminds both Rule and Harper of the Alpha’s long legacy of leadership and how they can contribute to it.
“When I think about inspiring others, I think about the founding of our fraternity, our Seven Jewels fought, not for themselves, but for the next generation. We’ve been here for 116 years and I continue to fight, so we’ll be here for another 116 years so that the next generation have the opportunity to say they are men of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated. This is so much bigger than us. This is for society. This is for humanity. This is for the work of our communities,” said Harper.
Rule agrees, noting that leaving a legacy is his strongest motivator and one he doesn’t take lightly. While standing on the shoulders of giants, he remembers that Alpha Phi Alpha was the first, blazing the way for a sea of change makers who are proud members of the Divine 9. As they prepare for the next century, it is a reminder that brotherhood has the power to drive the next generation forward.
“Lighting the torch of others, never dims your own. That is in the spirit of the fraternity,” said Rule.