Celebrating 100 Years of Brotherhood

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 Celebrating 100 Years of Brotherhood

Kappa Alpha Psi Eta Chapter at Aaron Douglas Luncheon 2016

Smiles, hearty laughter and stories of the good old days flowed freely when members of Kappa Alpha Psi gathered to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Eta Chapter at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“It’s like a second homecoming – though UNL has their homecoming in the fall, it’s like that second homecoming for the individuals and they just made a big weekend out of it,” said Alfonzo Cooper, a graduate advisor to the Kappa Alpha Psi chapter at UNL.

Over a long weekend in April, members rekindled old friendships, began a few new ones, shared countless stories of inspiration and recounted stories of lessons learned. With nearly one hundred men in attendance, the energy that surrounded the weekend was surreal.

The celebration began on April 14 with the ritual known as crossing (or initiation).

“It’s the same words, the same actions, the same oath that we all take. That shared experience gives such energy. It’s really what fired us up to kick off our weekend,” said Cooper.

Following the ceremony, brothers continued to socialize and get to know the two new undergraduate members of Kappa Alpha Psi. Undergraduate member Victor Beanum, a junior majoring in psychology, commented that many members went to Buffalo Wild Wings to get to know one another and bond.

“The biggest take away was just to the excitement of getting a chance to talk face-to-face with many of the Kappas. I know I’m going to be needing a lot of their assistance with graduation coming up and establishing a relationship is invaluable,” said Beanum.

The next day activities continued with the Aaron Douglas formal luncheon at the Sheldon Museum of Art. Dressed to impress, members listened to inspirational messages from alumni who were PhD recipients. A theme of “Encouraging Youth to Pursue Higher Education Through Community Activism” provided the groundwork for sharing life stories.

  • Charles McAfee of Wichita, Kansas
    A UNL basketball player from the 1950s, McAfee went on to become an accomplished architect and businessman with projects including the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. McAfee has received numerous awards for his commitment to mentoring minorities.
  • Dr. Ryan Ross of Denver
    As dean of student development and retention at the Community College of Denver, Dr. Ross has a passion for connecting with students and young graduates. He offered motivation to encourage a lifetime of service and leadership.

The prestigious Aaron Douglas Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Vaughn Robertson. As a project director for the TRIO program at UNL, Robertson works daily to improve the lives of minority students through higher education. The Aaron Douglas award annually recognizes transformative leadership that is improving lives.

Kappa Alpha Psi Eta Chapter members at the UNL Red and White Spring Game tailgate at the Malone Center
Kappa Alpha Psi members host a tailgate for the UNL Red and White Spring Game at the Malone Center.

Additional weekend events were the Black and White Ball, a tailgate at the Malone Community Center and football’s Red White Spring Game where Kappa Alpha Psi graduates who had lettered in sports were recognized during half time.

While the organization’s true centennial was on March 12, 2016, the planning committee specifically chose to align the celebration with the Spring Game because of the number of brothers who have been athletes at UNL. With brothers arriving from each coast, many states in between, and even a few from overseas, the weekend provided ample opportunities to strengthen the fraternal bond.

“From the planning committee perspective, we were thrilled. It really blew our minds how far a lot of people came for the weekend. It was great to see older members socializing; acting like jittery undergrads,” said Cooper.

An event 100 years in the making, the celebration often reflected back on the values of being a Kappa man. During an era when Monet was painting, Albert Einstein was completing his theory of relativity and Jim Crow laws divided daily activities, seven black men in 1916 shared a common vision to bring the historically African American fraternity to UNL. The fraternity’s founders faced adversity with tenacity as administrators refused to recognize the organization as a fraternity until 1927.

For younger members, the events cemented the desire to help the chapter flourish at UNL.

“I think we’re in in the right place and doing the necessary steps to get there. I feel like we just have to keep wanting to improve and can’t settle, especially with other Divine Nine groups coming to UNL,” said Beanum.

Beanum understands the commitment that goes with being a Kappa, as his father did so before him. “Whether we were in Arkansas, St. Louis or now here in Nebraska, it’s always been the same. I’ve seen that bond. I saw it in real life and sat in on leadership meetings. My dad always brought me to these things and I didn’t realize why I needed to be there, but now I see it was all important.”

Kappa Alpha Psi Eta Chapter member with young boy at the tailgate prior to the UNL Red and White Spring Game tailgate at the Malone Center
Kappa Alpha Psi prides itself on mentorship for young kids.
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