Special to South Florida Times
While some of our brothers were attending the Florida Federation of Alpha Chapters District Conference in Tampa — winning the state’s 2011 Chapter of the Year and other awards — a faithful few brothers of Beta Beta Lambda Chapter were among the members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity who traveled to Washington, D.C. for the official dedication of the Dr. Martin Luther King National Memorial on Oct. 16.
This event, staged at Potomac Park adjacent to the memorial site, was televised live on TV One, C-Span and other media outlets. Thousands of people witnessed the presenters and entertainers who provided spoken word/speeches and musical interpretation on the sense of pride and achievement felt in building the only national memorial for an African American. Various speakers expressed that the continued quest for the “Beloved Community” is far from being achieved, and that civil rights, along with equal economic prosperity for all, is a goal that still must be reached for America.
The event was emceed by Alpha Brother Roland Martin and Gwen Ifill. Speakers included Brother Julian Bond, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, former U.S. Ambassador Brother Andrew Young, King’s children the Rev. Bernice King and Brother Martin Luther King III, King’s older sister Christine King Farris, Brother Rev. Joseph Lowery, Cecily Tyson with Amanda Stenberg, Nikki Giovanni, Diahann
Carrol, Tommy Hilfiger, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Rev. Al Sharpton, Marian Wright Edelman, Dan Akerson, Rabbi Israel Dresner, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Gary Cowger and former CBS news anchor Dan Rather. Performances were given by Mary Mary, Miri Ben Ari & POEM-CEES, the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, Jennifer Holiday and Stevie Wonder.
The keynote address by the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, was held at the actual MLK memorial site and televised to the park. Prior to his speech the president and his family were given a private tour of the memorial site by Brother Harry Johnson Sr., the King family and Brother Herman “Skip” Mason Jr., the general president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Johnson, a past general president of the fraternity and currently president and CEO of the MLK National Memorial Foundation, led the national fundraising campaign to develop this multimillion-dollar project.
The memorial, designed by Devroaux and Purnell/ROMA Group JVP along with the sculptural works of Lei Yixin, uses stone, water and trees to underscore the themes of King’s messages of democracy, justice and hope.
The memorial cost an estimated $120 million to build and maintain. Congress, which authorized the Alphas to establish the monument in 1996, granted four acres of land between the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials to the project. The Beta Beta Lambda Alpha Foundation of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. raised approximately $100,000 locally, and members of the Miami Chapter arranged for additional $1 million donations by the ExxonMobil and John S. and James L. Knight foundations.
Trever Wade, president of Beta Beta Lambda Chapter in Miami, along with past chapter presidents Ola Aluko, Alpha’s southern regional MLK chairman, and Gregory Gay, Miami’s Alpha MLK chairman, led the local campaign, challenging companies, corporations and foundations to make contributions to the memorial project.
To make a tax-deductible contribution to the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity’s Beta Beta Lambda/Alpha Foundation, call 305-358-1040, email firstname.lastname@example.org or mail donations to the Beta Beta Lambda/Alpha Foundation c/o Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc – Beta Beta Lambda Chapter, P.O. Box 12447, Miami, Fl 33101.
Photo: PHOTO COURTESY OF GREGORY GAY
Dr. Martin Luther King National Memorial Monument
BROTHERS IN THE STRUGGLE: (L-R) Alpha Brothers Joseph Sirdastion Gay, Lyonel Myrthil, Miami Chapter President Trever Wade, Samuel L. Gay Jr., Joseph Spensard Gay, Ola A. Aluko, George Koonce Jr., Brodes Hartley, Jr. and George Koonce III at the Oct. 16 dedication of the Dr. Martin Luther King National Memorial.