LifestyleBlack Greek fraternities unite to increase Black male voter turnout

Black Greek fraternities unite to increase Black male voter turnout

Louis Williams, a member of the Colorado Spring, Colorado alumni chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., is bothered by what is going on politically in the country and wants to play a role to get more Black men voting and in the political process.

Members of various Black Greek fraternities gathered for the National Panhellenic Council Fraternity Days on the Hill convening, discussing how to get Black men to vote on March 12. (Ja’Mon Jackson/The Washington Informer)
Williams, 30, flew from Colorado to the District to participate in the third annual National Panhellenic Council Fraternity Days on the Hill, with programming primarily taking place at the Salamander Washington DC in Southwest.

“I came here to see what we plan to do from a broad perspective,” he said. “We’re on the brink of the destruction of democracy.”

Williams’s fraternity leadership was joined by leaders and members of Alpha Phi Alpha, Omega Psi Phi, Phi Beta Sigma and Iota Phi Theta at the conference. During the convening, which took place from March 10-12, participants listened to speakers on how Black Greek fraternities can work together to increase African American male voter turnout.

The Black Male Vote

The conference took place as data has emerged that this year Black people may not be as enthusiastic about President Biden as opposed to 2020. 

A New York Times-Siena poll in late October found that 22% of Black voters in six battleground states, including the key swing state of Michigan, would vote to re-elect President Trump while 71% said they would support Biden. Biden won 92% of the Black vote in 2020, according to the Pew Research Center.

A Pew voter study revealed Black men are more likely than Black women to vote for Republicans. In 2016, 14% of Black men voted for Trump, compared with 4% of Black women. In 2020, Pew reported 12% supported Trump, compared with 5% of Black women.

Black Frats Unite

At the voter rally that occurred on March 12, leaders of the fraternities were unanimous in the need for Black men to go to the polls throughout the year.

“We need to embrace the reality we are facing,” said Dr. Willis Lonzer, general president of Alpha Phi Alpha, on the role Black men are playing in getting out the vote. “We are dealing with apathy. We are not carrying our weight.”

Lonzer said the Black fraternities coming together and tapping into their unique, collective strength is key.

Dr. Willis Lonzer, general president of Alpha Phi Alpha, Richard Mattox, Eastern province polemarch of Kappa Alpha Psi, and Mark E. Jackson, first vice grand basileus of Omega Psi Phi and Dr. Sean D. Housen, Sr. International Grand Polaris. (Ja’Mon Jackson/The Washington Informer)
“We cannot do what the sororities do,” he said. “They are engineered differently from us. They are going to do what they do. We need to embrace our role as Black men.”

Lonzer said each of the fraternities has some sort of voter registration and education campaign. Alpha Phi Alpha’s campaign is “A Voteless People is a Hopeless People.”

“We need to coordinate our different campaigns, so we are not stepping on one another,” he said.

Richard B. Mattox serves as the Eastern Province polemarch for Kappa Alpha Psi. Mattox noted that Trump once said he would “be a dictator for a day” and referenced a quote from former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie saying, in essence, that Trump would suspend parts of the Constitution if reelected.

“The Constitution contains the 13th Amendment, the 14th Amendment and the 15th Amendment,” Mattox said. “If that happens, slavery would be legal. You are a slave again.”

Mattox said the Black fraternities have the tools to inform people about the consequences of election and “we have to go back and tell the story.”

Mark E. Jackson is the first grand vice basileus for Omega Psi Phi. While he complimented the Black fraternities coming together, he said he wished there had been better communication about the event taking place.

“Next year, we should have activities at Howard University and at the University of the District of Columbia,” Jackson, 57, said. “We should also involve the high schools in this city.”

Jackson recommended the participants approach their faith leaders and “ask for five minutes to talk about the importance of voting and to pass out information.”

Sherard Cooley is an active member of Alpha chapters in the D.C. metropolitan area. Cooley, 43, gave the conference high marks.

“It is great to see the Divine Nine fraternities together,” Cooley said. “Most of the time, we are depicted going against each other. But we are trying to work together.”

Source: Washington Informer

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