Exhibit marks fraternity's 50 years of service
The Rev. Dr. Quincy Brown, vice president of spiritual life and church relations at LaGrange College, joins Oliver Greene as they look through a new exhibit marking the 50th anniversary of Theta Nu Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha. The display is in the lobby of the college’s Frank and Laura Lewis Library through mid-May.

Exhibit marks fraternity's 50 years of service

Jan. 13, 2014

The 50th anniversary of the Theta Nu Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity is the subject of a new exhibit at Frank and Laura Lewis Library. An opening reception will be at 3 p.m. Jan. 17.

Sponsored by the Office of Spiritual Life and Church Relations, the display celebrates the LaGrange chapter's history and mission.

"The late Frank Lewis, longtime librarian and namesake of our library, was a charter member of Theta Nu Lambda," said the Rev. Dr. Quincy Brown, Vice President of Spiritual Life and Church Relations, who also is a member of the fraternity. "A part of the exhibit is in honor of him and his legacy."

As the first black Greek letter fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. was organized in 1906 at Cornell University in New York by seven African-American men as a way to bring black men together for fellowship and service. The fraternity was integrated in 1945.
Oliver Greene, longtime LaGrange educator and civic leader, is a charter member of Theta Nu Lambda and has been a driving force behind the exhibit.

"We're deeply grateful to (college President) Dr. (Dan) McAlexander and the staff at the Lewis Library for being so gracious," he said. "They opened up the library to us and have been such a help in pulling this excellent exhibit together."

Greene said the local chapter was organized in 1964. He was elected president, Lewis was named secretary and Charles Willoughby of Newnan was treasurer. Willoughby is still an active member.

The fraternity's motto is "First of all, servants of all, we shall transcend all."

"We emphasize service, scholarship and excellence," Greene said. "Currently, we have 22 members."

During its first 50 years, the chapter has worked to find ways to help area young people through its teen pregnancy program, leadership conferences and scholarship awards.

"Our main concern is the total development of the child, whether they are black or white," Greene said. "There is no discrimination."

In 1993, the group received a long-term lease from the city for the former Dawson Street Elementary School. With help from the Callaway Foundation, the fraternity was able to restore the building and create a home for its activities. Greene said the city and county have been generous supporters of the Alpha Multipurpose Center.

"Together, we have come up with programs that carry on the goals and objectives of the fraternity and of the city and county," he said. "It must be a combined effort when you are dealing with young people. It takes all of us to improve the quality of life in our community."

The chapter also has been active with the March of Dimes, and with local and state politics.

"Every year, a group of us attends one session of the General Assembly," Greene said.

We call it Alpha Day at the Capitol. We spend a whole day there, talking with our legislators and looking at proposed legislation."

Although Greene is proud of the chapter's accomplishments during its first 50 years, he said the work never ends.

"There is a lot that is still to be done," he said. "We will continue our work with teen pregnancy, but we also will be addressing the problem of gang violence. We will be joining other organizations in the county for this project because we've discovered that we all must work together to solve all the problems that confront young people today."

But perhaps more importantly, the fraternity offers mentors and role models for young leaders, said Brown.

"Mr. Greene and Mr. Lewis were two of the first people I met when I came here 17 years ago," he said. "A lot of who I am today I attribute to those two individuals."

Having that kind of guidance is invaluable to anyone beginning a profession, he said.

"You need to seek out role models to help you to begin to fashion what you want to be,"

Brown said. "The members of this fraternity have helped me do that. My job now with our students is to do for them, what (the fraternity) did for me."

The 50th anniversary exhibit will remain at the library through commencement. 

 

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