Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.’s new president
Herman “Skip” Mason, Jr. Sets focus on America’s black boys
as organization’s 33rd General President
Andrew Young, Actor Hill Harper, Actress Jasmine Guy, Judge Glenda Hatchett, Marc Morial, and Roland Martin among thousands who witness historic Inauguration
BALTIMORE, MD (January 28, 2009) – In the city known as the “cradle of the civil rights movement,” noted historian and author Herman “Skip” Mason, Jr. has been inaugurated as the new (national) president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the world’s oldest and most-influential black fraternal organization.
Mason, who will lead the fraternity for four years, officially took office January 1. The ceremonial inaugural festival was held in Mason’s hometown of Atlanta, Ga. over a three day period January 23-25. Alpha Phi Alpha’s top post is known as “general president.”
Mason took the fraternal oath of office as the 33rd General President on Saturday, Jan. 24 in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel on the campus of Morehouse College, where Mason is vice president of student services.
In addition to the inauguration ceremony, more than 3,000 guests attended the weekend inaugural festival included an educational symposium titled, “Alpha Phi Alpha on the Road Less Traveled: Guiding our boys from the High Chair to High School and on to College;” a luncheon hosted by the fraternity’s new First Lady Harmel Mason; a Saturday inaugural prayer breakfast, a formal Inaugural Ball featuring the famed musical duo Ashford and Simpson; and a Sunday church service at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Mason, an ordained minister, delivered the sermon.
“This is an historic moment for America, and for Alpha,” said Mason. “In the same week, America inaugurated Barack Obama as its 44th president; I have the honor of being inaugurated as the 33rd General President to lead Alpha.”
Mason and the fraternity will put a focus on saving America’s black boys as its major public policy initiative the next four years. The inaugural educational symposium was the formal kick off. The initiative has already received support from the National Educational Foundation, Schott Foundation for Public Education and FedEx.
“I love it, because it speaks to our young black boys,” said Dennis Kemp, Sr., the fraternity’s Eastern Region vice president. “I have sons, so the symposium resonated with me, because we must help our young men.”
The “First Lady’s Luncheon” was added to the program to highlight and recognized the women who support the fraternity as an Alpha wife, daughter, or other association. “I think that one cannot celebrate righteous black women enough,” said Johnetta Cole, an Alpha daughter and former president of Spelman College.
Among other notable guests who headlined the inaugural festival included fraternity members Andrew Young, former ambassador to the UN; National Urban League President Marc Morial; Actor Hill Harper, CNN Analyst Roland Martin; TVs Apprentice Winner Randal Pinkett, among others. Young served as honorary co-chair of the Inaugural Celebration.
Others supporters who shared in the celebration included TV Judge Glenda Hatchett, Actress Jasmine Guy, both daughters of Alpha members. In addition to Ashford and Simpson, Tony-Award-Winner and Grammy Artist Jennifer Holiday and the legendary Melba Moore performed.
“This inauguration puts us on a road to greater service,” said Ozell Sutton, 26th General President of Alpha who administered the oath to Mason. “Service is the rent one pays for the space occupied. We want to pay our rent.”
Before Mason took the oath at the Inauguration Ceremony, several guest brought greetings including a host of college presidents and others.
“Skip Mason, make America hear you,” said Morial. “Hear you about the plight of black boys, the completion of the MLK Project, and the importance of young black folks being prepared for college.”
During his Inaugural Address, General President Mason charged the members to remake Alpha Phi Alpha as President Obama asked Americans to remake America.
“Organizations like Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, as with all African-American Greek-lettered fraternities and sororities, have unique opportunities to continue to be vessels of stewardship, to help change our situations, predicaments, and ultimately our country, and our world,” Mason said. “Just because we have Obama in the White House doesn’t mean we should sit back, relax, and say everything is now finally gonna be alright.”
The new general president cited several examples including rising unemployment; the weak economy; Cancer, HIV, and AIDS cases on the rise; and the diminishing access of healthcare to middleclass and poor families. He also cited that incarceration rates are up while graduation rates are down for African-Americans.
Sponsors of the Inaugural Weekend included: National Education Association (NEA), Sprite, Aetna, American Cancer Society©, Nationwide Insurance, Abercrombie and Fitch, America Heart Association, McDonald's Corporation USA, Morehouse College, Pepsi Company, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Georgia Power/The Southern Company, Anheuser Busch, Coca Cola, March of Dimes, McDermott, Will and Emory, Sanders/Wingo Advertising, Turner Construction, and Sodexho.