Historically Black Greek Lettered Organizations at Hopkins

Name: Blake Edwards

Year: Class of 2010

Hometown: Detroit, MI

Major: Public Health (Social Science concentration)

Previous Guest Blog Entries:

Dec 20, 2007: End of the Year Shows, click here.

Archived 2007 Blog, Vol. 1: The Life and Times of B. Edwards


In the fall of 2007 I entered a world that I had been dreaming about way Gb2_apa2before I got to college. In the fall of 2007 I became a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated – Sigma Sigma chapter, here at the Johns Hopkins University. My eyes were first opened to Alpha Phi Alpha when a teacher at my high school began mentoring me during my freshmen year. I would sometimes see him walking around with Greek letters on and didn’t make much of it. As I got older, and my relationship with him grew, I began to notice the appearance of these letters throughout my community, and the world. Family members are Alphas, friends’ fathers are Alphas, and then it really got big … the current and last mayors of Detroit, other political figures, Olympians, and Activists like Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass, and W.E.B. DuBois are all Alpha men.

Gb2_apa1The cool thing about Alpha Phi Alpha and other historically Black Greek Lettered Organizations (BGLOs) is that the involvement is not about college; that is just the beginning. There are undergraduate chapters and graduate chapters so that the involvement never stops.  Alpha Phi Alpha was the first BGLO, founded on Tuesday, December 4, 1906 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

Initially started as a means of survival for the extremely small Black population at Cornell, it grew into an organization that inspired other BGLO formation and has served the world for over a century. Being at Hopkins, Gb2_dstwhere Black students are a minority, the appearance of BGLOs is a reminder for the campus community about the past struggles and triumphs of Blacks in America. We may not have the largest numbers at Hopkins and many other institutions, but we still make our presence felt, here and in the community. The relationship between college chapters and our professionally established graduate chapters help us bridge the gap between Hopkins and the Baltimore community.

Because of films like Drumline and Stomp the Yard, the awareness of BGLOs in mainstream America has increased, but stepping is not all that we do. Don’t get it twisted, we do step hard (see video below), but another aspect of ourGb2_sgrho organizations is providing vivid leadership, everywhere. Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, and Sigma Gamma Rho have representation in many of the organizations here on campus, ranging from presidential positions to the general body level. There are nine BGLOs that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), and the four organizations mentioned are the ones Gb2_akaactive here at Hopkins.  Though are numbers are small, we make our presence known and will continue to do so. As opposed to getting interested in Greek Life after hitting college, many of us had Greek life on our minds as an incentive for attending. The beauty of the BGLO is that its history is so deeply rooted in our history in this nation. While our populations are larger at other academic institutions, we do in fact exist here at Hopkins, and will continue to do so as a means of connecting with our past and embracing our futures.

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One Comment

  1. Ahhhhh, I was invited to the step showcase, but I ended up spending that night being stranded outside a restaurant trying to hail a cab. Huzzah for the video.

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