Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity

The Zeta Pi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha was established at UGA, becoming the first black fraternity. Elijah Staggers, Jamal Releford, Jeremiah Lemons, Dervin Cunningham and Andre Sutton, from left to right, pose in the Tate Student Center.

As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and holiday approaches, the Zeta Pi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. at the University of Georgia reflect on his legacy and how others can be influenced by his work.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. King’s birthday is usually celebrated by doing a day of service. Destin Mizelle, a junior majoring in psychology and minoring in African American studies from College Park, Georgia and member of the Zeta Pi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. explained that many people associate Dr. King with the Civil Rights movement. However, he expressed how King gave his life to serving others through fighting the social injustices of his time.

“He gave his life for service,” Mizelle said. “He gave up the opportunity to live a normal life. He gave that up so we as black people can push forward. It prompts everyone else to do the same thing in some way.”

Ibrahima Barry, a junior from Loganville majoring in biological science, is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. He said that because Dr. King gave so much of his time to aiding others in their struggles and causes, it is only right that others reciprocate what has been given.

“[Dr. King] did not want his work to stop with him—he really encouraged others to do the things he was doing and to look after others,” Barry said.

Barry emphasized that men like Dr. King are what inspired him to become a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Looking back on his organization’s history has encouraged him to do his part in the organization.

“I like the history of the men of Alpha Phi Alpha and the things they have done,” Barry said. “They kind of encourage you to do what you can do to join the history.”

Mizelle expressed how he carries many principles related to Dr. King’s philosophy, especially the one about love which Mizelle believes will help get to the “promise land” Dr. King talked so much about.

“I carry a lot of his principles with me on whether it is common courtesy or kindness and speaking to everyone that you see,” Mizelle said. “He preached the idea of love…and love being that way to that promise land we’ve been reaching for.”

Jason Codling, a junior majoring in biological science from Stone Mountain and member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. explained that his character and being involved on campus are important as he carries on King’s legacy.

“I know that we stand on the shoulders of giants,” Codling said. “At least at UGA and my community back home, I try to make sure I am known for my character and being involved on campus.”

Mizelle emphasized how Dr. King’s commitment to service and social injustice did not make him passive in the fight for change, but a perseverant. A perseverant in a sense that he was dedicated to what he believed in and that is how change occurs.

“If you think about it, [Dr. King] was aggressive in what he wanted,” said Mizelle. “He always stood firm in his beliefs and very committed to it. It translates into always being committed and dedicated to whatever you are passionate about.”

Codling believes that how we treat people ultimately affects them and how they interact with and treat others.

“Paying it forward goes a long way—Dr. King did not want his work to stop with us, and everything we do can affect somebody [in ways we do not know]...it translates to how they interact with other people,” Codling said.

Barry admires how Dr. King manifested all the principles that Alpha Phi Alpha stands for because King felt it was innate thing to do.

“I think it’s just great that Dr. King embodied those principles and didn’t do those things for photos ops or to get credit—he did it because it was the right thing to do,” Barry said.

Codling believes that doing community service helps the individual appreciate what they have more and share what they have learned with individuals within their own community.

“[Community service] also helps yourself in a great way…seeing what I don’t appreciate and how can I appreciate that more and bring that back to my community, and how I can get them to appreciate it more,” Codling said.

Mizelle realizes that it is also important for the individual to do community service to improve on what they do not like. He gave an example of how everyone has something they care about, but it is up to the individual to either complain or do something about it.

“We all have something we care about,” Mizelle said. “Are we going to complain about [the issues] or put something in place…always try to improve what you do not like and don’t be the person that complains.”

Barry expressed how community service can bring some humility to the individual that does it. Consistency is key to doing community service as well. Through consistency, the individual is able to understand that people who are less fortunate will still face the same adversities tomorrow.

“I think community service is really humbling,” Barry said. “It makes you appreciate all the things that you take for granted…it’s consistency, the person you help now will still have the same battle the next day.”

The men of the Zeta Pi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. will be supporting King’s Day of Service. These men will also be partnering with their alumni chapter Eta Iota Lambda on Jan. 21 by going to Bigger Vision Community Shelter in Athens to give back. They are not only looking forward to giving back, but also hearing stories that they can take back with them to better improve themselves and encourage others to do the same.

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