The men of Phi Beta Sigma, one of the largest African American fraternities in the country, were convening their 100th anniversary celebration in Washington yesterday with flurry of activities that included the unveiling of an ambitious plan to mentor black males titled “I Am My Brother’s Keeper.”
Founded on the campus of Howard University in 1914, Phi Beta Sigma is a fraternity with more than 150,000 members. Prominent members include: Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), Dallas Cowboy legend Emmitt Smith, Rev. Al Sharpton and NBC weatherman Al Roker.
More than 6,000 fraternity members are scheduled to attend the convention, which began Wednesday and concludes Saturday. Jonathan A. Mason, International President of Phi Beta Sigma, said his organization was inspired by President Obama to implement “I Am My Brother’s Keeper”, a program that he said will make a difference in the lives of young black males. The
“The tree that our founders planted…is still bearing sweet fruit today. We called them our Moses generation because they were responsible for getting us to this point, ” said Jonathan A. Mason, International President of Phi Beta Sigma. “But it is time for us, the Joshua generation, to see this mission through. “
Flanked by Sharpton and Broderick Johnson, assistant to President Obama and chair of the White House “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, Mason unveiled a 10-point initiative that includes educating the group’s 10,000 members to become mentors, offering $1 million in scholarships, adopting 100 schools across the country and sponsoring a range of other programs to increase the potential of black males
“People asked the question: Are fraternities and sororities still relevant in this day and age ?” Mason said. “When gun violence takes out Trayvon Martin and many others around the country, when a young lady buries her fourth child as a result of gang violence in Chicago, there is still a need for African Americans to turn to fraternities and sororities to lift up our next generation of young people.”