Thursday, April 14, 2011

Locating and Producing the "Talented Tenth" of the African-Americans

The sun as a symbol of the vital principle of Nature, has three properties – Life, Light and Heat. The three vitalize and enliven the three worlds – Spiritual, Intellectual and Material. The active, radiant and virile principle of the Sun impregnates the passive, watery and maternal principle of Nature. The Talented Tenth should be those who would have discovered first hand the eternity of “Life, Light and Truth” and the illusion of “Death, Darkness and Sin.” In the USA, there are some organizations that were formed by those with the desire to know and understand, and to seek greater breath and scope of enlightenment:

Sigma Pi Phi - The most exclusive and prestigious society in the black community as the first Greek-letter fraternity organized by African Americans. It was founded in 1904  in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and its membership includes men from all Greek  letter organizations as well as those who are not. It is often called the Boulé which means "a council of noblemen" after an ancient Athenian governing body from the ancient Greek verb ‘boulomai’ meaning “to will” (after deliberating). This was a “council of citizens” appointed to run daily affairs of the city.

Sigma Pi Phi was not a college fraternity. It provided fellowship for African-American men who already held college degrees and were established in the professions or business. The Boule is modeled on the Caucasian society called Skull & Bones, established in 1776 at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Today, the Skull and Bones is the source of Caucasian Establishment.

The logo of Sigma Pi Phi is the Sphinx (Hu), an androgynous creature with the body of a winged lion and the human head. The creature symbolized strength and intelligence. It was found by the entrance into the Great Pyramid of Egypt, wrongly considered as a tomb. The Great Pyramid was the first structure erected as a repository of secret truths and the “womb of the Mysteries” as a place of the “second birth” unfolded by the Sage Illuminator or the Master of the Secret House It has three main chambers and three faces representing the human constitution – the heart, brain and generative system. It has a square base as the representative of the universe or Nature, the House of Wisdom, firmly on 4 immutable laws – “Truth, Intelligence, Silence and Profundity” and the cardinal points (east, west, north and south) and the elements of life (fire, air, water and earth). Humanity is the living apex or capstone (a miniature pyramid, a smaller block of similar shape) of the unfinished universe through which the divine wisdom and energies stream down the diverging sides of the structure below throughout the world. The capstone is the epitome of the pyramid just like the spirit is the epitome of human being and God is the epitome of the spirit. Each person who sought to be admitted into the Greater Mysteries for initiation in the sacred subterranean galleries beneath the Pyramid, was asked a question by the attendant (the Magi), “What animal is it that in the morning goes on four feet, at noon on two feet and in the evening on three feet?” Literally, the answer is a human being, who is childhood crawled upon his hands and knees, in maturity stood erect, and in old age shuffled along supporting him/herself using a staff. Esoterically, there is value of numbers – 4, 2, and 3, which produce a sum of 9. The 4 represents the infant or ignorant person, the 2 the evolving or intellectual person and the 3 the illumined or spiritual person who adds the staff of wisdom. Therefore the sphinx is the mystery of Nature, the embodiment of the secret doctrine of Life and those passed it attained personal immortality. - Wisdom of Religions Volume 5. After one has passed Sphinx, he was informed to enter with the Riddle of the Sphinx - “Look Within for that which Thou needest."

The first constitution of Sigma Pi Phi proclaimed that:

Whereas it seems wise and good that men of ambition,
refinement and self-respect should seek the society of each other
Both for the mutual benefit and to be an example of the higher
type of manhood.

Be it Resolved that a society be organized for the
purpose of binding men of like qualities into a close, sacred,
fraternal union, that they may know the best of one another,
and that each in this life may to his full ability aid the other,
and by concerted action bring about those things that seem best
for all that cannot be accomplished by individual effort.”

It was thought that black learned and professional men should have an organization that "should be a fraternity in the true sense of the word; one whose chief thought should not be to visit the sick and bury the dead, but to bind men of like qualities, tastes and attainments into a close and sacred union that they might know the best of one another." Members would not be "selected on the basis of brains alone – but in addition to congeniality, culture and good fellowship; that they shall have behind them [at initiation] a record of accomplishment, not merely be men of promise and good education." His fraternity would contain the "best of Skull and Bones of Yale and of Phi Beta Kappa."

“Now the striking truth in connection with this forceful and memorable utterance is that it came in the most effective way; it grew out of a life situation. It was not a studied abstraction, emanating from the minds of Boulé philosophers; it was no finely spun theory, beautiful for contemplation, but impracticable when applied to the vexing problems that arise out of our relationship toward each other; it was not the result of an attempt of any kind away and apart from a real situation, to define a merely idealistic principle. The utterance of the Grand Boulé has all of the simplicity of a fundamental principle. It is earnest, straightforward, unequivocal. In so many words it says this: first of all every archon is a gentleman, or he has no business in the Boulé. He will, therefore, at all times and in all situations conduct himself as a gentleman; he cannot do less. He will realize, or at least assume, that every other archon along with himself is a gentleman; and therefore in all his social, business, political and religious relationships, subscribes to and practices the same high principles to which he is committed. This assumption will therefore make it impossible for one archon unjustly and viciously to attack another one even when he is in possession of facts sufficient to justify the attack. As brothers in the same circle, it would be his business to present his findings to the Boulé and let them deal with the apostasy from the spirit of the fraternity. Archons may, and should differ; they will, and should be subject to criticism in their public life, by any other archon who disagrees with the program or procedures involved. But this has nothing to do with vicious personal attack that questions the honor and high standing of a fellow archon. This is outside of the pale of the fundamental elements of "brotherhood.'” - Grand Grapter Davis, The Boulé Journal (1929)

The profile of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity is that of African-Americans with significant disposable income; leaders in corporate America, government, education, health care, politics and religion; highly influential shapers of local and national opinion. The demographics are as follows:

  • Median Age: 55;
  • Age: 35-49 25%, 50+ 75%;
  • Median Household Income: US$250,000;
  • Average Net Worth: US$2,000,000;
  • Graduated College: 100%;
  • Postgraduate Study: 100%;
  • Professional/managerial: 90%;
  • Top Management: 60%;
  • Real Estate - Primary Resident: 80%, Real Estate - Own Other: 60%;
  • Marital Status - Married: 85%, Children in the Household: 35%;
  • Male/Female: 98%/2%
Prominent members of the Boule are: WEB DuBois; Jesse Jackson Bill Cosby; Al Sharpton; Thurgood Marshall;  Vernon Jordan; Dr. Daniel Hale Williams who performed 1st open hear surgery; Ralph Bunch a former UN Ambassador; Arthur Ashe; Urban League President; Whitney Young; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Benjamin Mays; Carter G. Woodson; John H. Johnson; Maynard Jackson former mayor of Atlanta; Baseball great Hank Aaron; Tom Bradley a TV personality; Dennis Archor former mayor of Detroit; Elvin Big 'E' Hayes; Bill Cosby; Jesse Jackson; Earl Graves; Douglass Wilder; ex-Steeler, Lynn Swann; David Dinkins former mayor of New York City. The Ebony, Jet, Essence, and Black Enterprise magazines are owned by the Boule.

Official site:

There are a total of nine historically black sororities and fraternities that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council, sometimes referred to as the “Divine Nine.” The organizations include
1. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.(1906),
2. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.(1908),
3. Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc .(1911),
4. Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.(1911),
5. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.(1913)
6. Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc (1914),
7. Zeta Phi Beta (1920),
8. Sigma Gamma Rho (1922),
9. Iota Phi Theta (1963).

Lawrence Otis Graham, a Boule, said in his book, Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class, that these sororities and fraternities “are a lasting identity, a circle of lifetime friends, a base for future political and civic activism.”

Prominent among them are:

Alpha Phi Alpha  - is a fraternity that was founded on December 4, 1906 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and the founders are collectively known as the "Seven Jewels". Alpha Phi Alpha the first intercollegiate Greek-lettered fraternity in the United States established for people of African descent, and the paragon for the Black Greek Lettered Organizations (BGLOs) that followed. It uses motifs and artifacts from Ancient Egypt to represent itself and its archives are preserved at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center.

Purpose Statement: To promote a more perfect union among college men; to aid in and insist upon the personal progress of its members; to further brotherly love and a fraternal spirit within the organization; to discountenance evil; to destroy all prejudices; to preserve the sanctity of the home, the personification of virtue and the chastity of woman.

Mission Statement: To develop leaders, promote brotherhood and academic excellence, while providing service and advocacy for communities.     

Vision Statement To stimulate the ambition of its members; to prepare them for the greatest usefulness in the causes of humanity, freedom, and dignity of the individual;  to encourage the highest and noblest form of manhood; and to aid down-trodden humanity in its efforts to achieve higher social, economic and intellectual status.

Alpha Phi Alpha utilizes motifs from Ancient Egypt and uses images and songs depicting the Her-em-akhet (Great Sphinx of Giza), pharaohs, and other Egyptian artifacts to represent the organization. The Great Sphinx of Giza was made out of one unified body of stone which represents the fraternity and its members. 

This is in contrast to other fraternities that traditionally echo themes from the golden age of Ancient Greece. Alpha's constant reference to Ethiopia in hymns and poems are further examples of Alpha's mission to imbue itself with an African cultural heritage. Fraternity brother Charles H. Wesley wrote, "To the Alpha Phi Alpha brotherhood, African history and civilization, the Sphinx, and Ethiopian tradition bring new meanings and these are interpreted with new significance to others." The Great Pyramids of Giza, symbols of foundation, sacred geometry and more, are other African images chosen by Alpha Phi Alpha as fraternity icons.

The fraternity's 21st General President, Thomas W. Cole once said, "Alpha Phi Alpha must go back to her ultimate roots; only then can she be nurtured to full bloom." Fraternity members make pilgrimages to its spiritual birthplaces of Egypt to walk across the sands of the Giza Plateau to the Great Sphinx of Giza and the Great Pyramids of Giza, and to Ethiopia

Alpha Phi Alpha and its members have had a voice and influence on politics, current-affairs and key issues facing the world as founder and editor of national publications. The Crisis, the magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was started by fraternity member W. E. B. Du Bois in 1910. In 1914, The Sphinx, named after the Egyptian landmark, began publication as the fraternity's journal. The Crisis and The Sphinx are respectively the first and second oldest continuously published black journals in the United States. The National Urban League's (NUL) Opportunity Journal, was first published in 1923 under the leadership of Alpha founder Eugene K. Jones, with fraternity brother Charles Johnson as its executive editor. While continuing to stress academic excellence among its members, Alpha's leaders recognized the need to correct the educational, economic, political, and social injustices faced by African-Americans and the world community.  Alpha Phi Alpha began its continuing commitment to providing scholarships for needy students and initiating various other charitable and service projects and evolved from a social fraternity to a primarily community service organization.

In practice, through their post-college activities, African-American undergraduate fraternities and sororities also functioned as clubs for the privileged elite, both people who had joined during their student days and a few co-opted men and women.

Official site:


Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, a fraternity and is the first African-American national fraternal organization to be founded at a historically black college. The fraternity has worked to build a strong and effective force of men dedicated to its Cardinal Principles of manhood, scholarship, perseverance, and uplift. In 1927, at the urging of fraternity member Carter G. Woodson, the fraternity made National Negro Achievement Week an annual observance and it continues today as Black History Month.

Omega Psi Phi does not seek members; quality men seek Omega Psi Phi. A man who successfully completes the membership selection process will immediately have access to a brotherhood of men who share similar ideals and aspirations. Those who seek admission will learn the history of the fraternity from a historical perspective, written test and personal accounts. 

Omega Psi Phi Fraternity is a professional organization of educated men with similar ideas and like attainments. The fraternity’s founders chose Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance and Uplift as the cardinal principles that every prospective candidate must possess. The fraternity’s motto is “Friendship Is Essential To The Soul.”

Since the birth of the organization, Omega has and will continue to impact the world in every profession and all walks of life.

Candidates must exhibit the qualities of the Fraternity’s Four Cardinal Principles:
1. Manhood – Being appropriate in character and marked by moral excellence, courage, bravery, and resolve.
2. Scholarship – Demonstrating an attitude toward education, learning and being informed by achieving or exceeding and maintaining the minimum educational requirements of the fraternity.
3. Perseverance – Exhibiting a “spirit” of brotherhood, togetherness, humility, cooperation, and a willingness to go an extra mile for the goal sought, as a responsible first-class citizen. This can be demonstrated by presenting obstacles overcome, awards received and honors issued.
4. Uplift – Sharing ones gifts with the community in the form verifiable aid, activism and leadership. 

Official site:

  Non-Black Greek Lettered Fraternities

There are many hundreds of non-black Greek lettered fraternities. The main ones are:

1. Phi Beta Kappa Society was founded on December 5, 1776 at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and established the precedent for naming American college societies after the Greek-letter initials of a secret Greek motto.

Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. Its mission is to "celebrate and advocate excellence in the liberal arts and sciences"; and induct "the most outstanding students of arts and sciences at America’s leading colleges and universities." 

Phi Beta Kappa (ΦΒΚ) stands for philosophia biou kybernētēs — "Philosophy is the guide of life". 

Its three distinguishing principles are friendship, morality and learning

Like the older, Latin-letter fraternities, the Phi Beta Kappa was a fraternal society. To protect its members and to instill a sense of solidarity, it had the essential attributes of most modern fraternities: 
1. an oath of secrecy, 
2. a badge (or token) and a diploma (or certificate) of membership, 
3. motto, 
4. a ritual of initiation, and 
5. a handclasp of recognition.

Its symbol is that of a golden key engraved on the obverse with the image of a pointing finger, three stars and the Greek letters from the society takes its name. 

The stars are said to represent ambition and the three distinguishing principles of the Society: friendship, morality, and learning. 

On the reverse are found the initials "SP" in script, which stand for the Latin words Societas Philosophiae ("Philosophical Society").



Pi Kappa Phi, a fraternity whose mission is to make members lead by "The expression of shared values and ideals as contained in the Ritual of Initiation, Supreme Law and Fraternity policy; The pursuit of brotherhood through scholarship, leadership, service, and personal experiences; The achievement of personal excellence in each member and collective excellence in our Fraternity; A lifelong brotherhood of its members." 

Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity is a value-based membership development organization that focuses on building brotherhood through character enhancement, leadership development, academic achievement, commitment to service, lifelong friendship and social experiences.  

All Pi Kappa Phi (Pi Kapps) are expected to be men of CLASS, which stands for “Character, Leadership, Academics, Sportsmanship, Service.” The ideals arise out of the original acronym, “Chivalry, Loyalty, Accountability, Scholarship and Sportsmanship."

1. CHARACTER. A man of true character displays moral and ethical strength in any situation and displays such strength through personal integrity, ultimate respect and selflessness. 

2. LEADERSHIP opportunities; therefore, Pi Kappa Phi believes that leadership is a choice rather than an action. Pi Kappa Phi offers some of the most progressive and innovative LEADERSHIP development programs. 

3. ACADEMICS are important to every fraternity man. However, not every fraternity man is provided with the resources necessary to help him achieve academic success. Pi Kappa Phi provides the opportunity for advising and mentoring exclusively to its members through the Collegiate Success Program as well as scholarships to recognized academic achievements.

4. Pi Kappa Phi competes to win, but not at all costs. There is a right way and a wrong way to compete. The right way involves the display of SPORTSMANSHIP—through dedication to one’s team, respect for one’s opponent and dignity in winning and losing. Pi Kappa Phi believes that one’s conduct and attitude as a sportsman speak to one’s quality as an individual. 

5. Pi Kappa Phi promotes leadership through SERVICE. However, Pi Kappa Phi prides itself on being the only national fraternal organization to establish and maintain its own national philanthropy—Push America, which develops leadership qualities in the members of Pi Kappa Phi.

The Creed of Pi Kappa Phi 
I believe that the ideal chapter is made up of men
Who are bound together in a common loyalty
which transcends any personal selfishness;
Who realize that membership means personal responsibility
in bearing their share of the financial burden
of the chapter and the national organization;
Who bring credit to the fraternity by striving to attain
the highest possible standards of scholarship;
Who safeguard the reputation of their chapter
by keeping careful watch over their personal conduct;
Who uphold faithfully the
traditions and activities of their college;
Who prepare themselves diligently to shoulder their
full responsibility as citizens.
I believe that my chapter can become an ideal chapter, 
and I shall do my share to make it so. 


You may now read:

Argument for Bourgeoisie Nationalist or the Corporate "Talented Tenth" in Africa and Zimbabwe

1 comment:

pious said...

Quite interesting read. And in such evidence, were do we find Africans. Africans need such level of organisation now than ever.