Fraternity honors Dr. King with wreath

By on January 19, 2014

Held annually for over 20 years to honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s Legacy, the Iota Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. will continue their tradition of a commemorative Wreath Laying Ceremony at Kelly Ingram Park, 600-711 5th Ave N, tomorrow, January 20, 2014 from 10:00 AM until 10:30 AM. This event precedes and aligns with the Leadership and Service Council (LSC)  campus-wide initiative,  “MLK Day of Service”.

Members of Alpha Phi Alpha International Fraternity  lay a wreath at the Martin Luther King Statue at Kelly Ingram Park on Martin Luther King Day Monday January 18, 2010.(The Birmingham News / Joe Songer)

In 1963, while incarcerated for defying a blanketed injunction against non-violent protest, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used tissue paper and a smuggled newspaper to write the seminal work “Letters From a Birmingham Jail.” Dr. King, who was a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity (also the oldest collegiate NPHC fraternity), is remembered by his brothers by a wreath annually laid at the base of his statue in Kelly Ingram Park. In addition to the laying of the wreath, members of the fraternity will recite inspirational poems, give encouraging speeches, and march to his statue in his remembrance.

In the past, the program has attracted community leaders, city officials, and state representatives such as Birmingham City Councilmen Jay Roberson and Roderick Royal, and Congresswoman Terri Sewell. The event has not been exclusive to the Alpha fraternity, as  many of the “Divine 9”, a term to used to refer to the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC)  (a collaborative organization of nine historically African American, international Greek lettered fraternities and sororities), have been active participants in the ceremony. The featured speaker this year will be Cameron Thomas, a member of the fraternity, a senior majoring in Religion,  and the President of SGA at Samford University.

Sean Perry, a senior student at UAB majoring in kinesiology, and also the Community Service Chair for the Iota Nu chapter, says the event inspires him to new heights of excellence. He remarked, “Being an Alpha man myself, it makes me think, ‘wow, he really did this.’

“It pushes me,” he continues, “if he took initiative, even in the midst of those circumstances, that means I can take initiative to serve the community, that I can take initiative to excel in my classes.”

Believing the event is beneficial for the student body, Perry encourages his classmates to attend the 30 minute ceremony, noting that “it offers a chance for reflection on the work and mission of Dr. King, to really appreciate and acknowledge him.”

“As a UAB student in the city of Birmingham, we interact with the stomping grounds of the movement everyday,” he said, finally stating that “Dr. King is interwoven in our history.”

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