Members of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity convened Thursday, October 2, 2014 at the International Colloquium on Black Males in Education (ICBME) in Atlanta, Georgia to respond to contemporary challenges for Black males in society.
A panel of members including Wei LAB Founder and Director, Dr. Jerlando F. L. Jackson, Gregory J. Vincent, Leonard L. Moore, Marcel Henry, and Samuel Bacote III discussed Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, also known the Boulé, and the actions the organization takes to augment the lives and educational trajectories of Black males, and well as other underrepresented groups.
The Boulé, founded in 1904 in Philadelphia, consists of nearly 4,000 active members with 131 local organizations spanning from the Bahamas to the United States and London. Boulé is the nation’s oldest African American professional fraternity.
Samuel Bacote III, Grand Grammateus-Executive Secretary, began the discussion by positioning the ways the organization steps up to improve the current status of Black Males in Education.
Amidst the responses included Gregory J. Vincent’s remarks, stating the Boulé serves as an umbrella organization, bringing community groups together to engage in social action. Because of the Boulé’s access to important decision-makers in the United States, the organization can financially support community efforts to improve the lives of Black males.
Furthermore, the panel agreed, many members of the invitation-only fraternity contribute insightful perspectives due to their leadership in other service-based groups.
“The advantage I see is Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity’s membership cuts across multiple social groups and policy spaces, along with leadership opportunities and decision making spaces as well,” Jerlando F. L. Jackson said. When the nation’s leadership voices are among your membership, it provides the Boulé a unique ability to strategically orchestrating community efforts.”
Leonard L. Moore stated nearly 80 to 90 percent of the fraternity’s members are involved in a mentoring program with young African American males.
Soon the conversation shifted from the Boulé’s efforts in supporting Black males on the educational pathway, to supporting Black males post-graduation outcomes.
“Our job is not done just when a brother gets a degree,” Moore said. The panel agreed the fraternity must support Black males entering the job market by surrounding them with men who experienced the same challenges.
This support, Marcel Henry asserted, is the true meaning of the Boulé. “Our mission is to have an impact in changing the lives of men we interact with on a daily basis,” he said.
In the future, the panel wants members of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity to share their stories, encouraging young African American males to draw inspiration from Black men with successful careers who made education and citizenship a priority.
Following the panel discussion, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity’s Grand Commission on Young African American Males and Grand Social Action Committee co-sponsored the opening reception at the Atlanta University’s Center Library Exhibit Hall for the third annual International Colloquium on Black Males in Education. The reception featured an exhibit of the paper collection of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was also a member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity.