Kappa Alpha Psi (KAP) Xi Iota chapter hosted two speakers last week in anticipation of Black History Month.
The fraternity was originally founded on the campus of Indiana University on Jan. 5, 1911, during a time when African-American students were regularly dissuaded from attending college.
Marcus Trueheart, a fourth-year criminal justice major and active member of KAP, has gained inspiration from the dedication of KAP’s founders who faced adversity and achieved success.
“We were founded somewhere where we weren’t accepted, somewhere where our founders had to sit outside the classrooms with the door closed because they weren’t allowed to learn with white students,” Trueheart said. “Still, our founders achieved. They became doctors, lawyers and officers in the military. Being a part of this organization feels like I’m being a part of something bigger than myself. It makes me want to strive for success.”
Today, the fraternity focuses on events that educate students on domestic and international issues.
On Monday, Jan. 22, KAP brought in guest speaker Rasheed Atwater, a graduate assistant for the department of African American Studies at Eastern Michigan University, who spoke about the prospects of freedom and the reality of bondage.
“Rasheed enlightened students on what is happening in Libya such as the slave trade and sex trafficking,” Trueheart said. “We went over the definition of slavery and how the things going on in Libya relate to modern day slavery. We also discussed the lack of resources that Libyan natives have to combat these issues.”
KAP also invited SVSU alum and author Prince Robinson to speak about his book “Guided Motivation” and discuss the topics of resiliency and self-motivation.
“I learned about being resilient from Mr. Robinson,” said first-year computer science major David Escalante. “My first semester, I ended up not going to class because of my instructors. I wasn’t learning anything, and I was partying. I’m going to take his message and do better this semester.”
First-year criminal justice major Ernie Jonovich agreed that Robinson’s message of resiliency was powerful.
“I learned that it’s always good to keep your head up,” Jonovich said. “In high school, I scraped by because I could, but now I’m in college and it’s a lot harder. I have to work harder and realize what I’m here for.”
The week’s events prelude February’s Black History Month by highlighting some of the obstacles African-Americans face today.
“We wanted students to be educated on the cultural topics surrounding Africans and how they relate to minorities at SVSU and the community,” Trueheart said. “Black History Month is approaching, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday just passed, so we wanted to bring light to issues that are going on in the world and in our community.”
Later this month, KAP plans to participate in Theresa Flores’ soap project, a volunteer-based project that works to raise human trafficking awareness.
“We will be putting the human trafficking hotline number on bars of soap and placing them in hotels and other local areas so that anyone who may be a victim or knows a victim can call,” Trueheart said. “Many people don’t know that January is the month dedicated to human trafficking awareness, and we want to expand people’s knowledge of the issue.”
KAP also participates in Kappa Lead, a program that focuses on creating a solid foundation for high school students who are just starting to get ready for their transitions to college.
“When I grew up, I didn’t have a foundation, and I made some bad decisions, but Kappa Lead helps steer a lot of young men in the right path,” Trueheart said. “We bring high school students to SVSU, have them do tours and help them get acclimated to college life so that they can see that there is more out there.”
The organization’s focus on achievement has not only helped improve the lives of future college students, but current members as well.
“Being a member of KAP opens up a lot of doors and opportunities,” Trueheart said. “Members of KAP are everywhere, from doctors to professional athletes, and they help current members find positions in the fields they are interested in. We get to travel and participate in leadership events which help our members network and gain valuable skills.”