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80 Years And Counting

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Alamo City Ques at 80: Our Story

Written By: Jeremy Neal & Scott L. Earle, Sr.

November 1, 2020, will mark 80 years of service to the Alamo City by Psi Alpha Chapter.  In 1940, eight professional men from varied careers ranging from four educators, a dentist, a civil servant, a physician, and a businessman who had become members of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated during their college years, decided that the time was right to form a Graduate Chapter here in the City of San Antonio. They were as young as 24 years of age to 49 years of age.  They all had attended Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) due to segregation in the United States at that time in history.  Some were raised in the city, some from the state of Texas, one from Georgia, and one from Virginia. After compiling all of the necessary information and paperwork and complying with the National Body’s Guidelines, the Local Chapter was chartered by the Supreme Council of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated on November 1, 1940, and given the name Psi Alpha. The Charter members were: Brothers Dr. W. V. Hurd DDS, S. D. Kane, Dr. M. L. Preacher, Joseph Paul Chretien, Ernest M. Foxx, Valmo Charles Bellinger, Dr. Richard Kidd, and G. P. Inge, Jr. Brother S.D. Kane was our first Basileus (president). 

These men were influential in the community and were known more for just bringing Omega Psi Phi to the Alamo City.  All eight men did a great deal in the City but three had a substantial impact. Brother Dr. Hurd, a WWI veteran, was much respected in his field and at the time as the only individual to serve as President of the Gulf State Dental Association of Texas twice, once in the 1940s and again in the late 1950s. He served as the past president of the Lone Star State Medical, Dental, and Pharmaceutical Association, and a former board member of the National Dentist Association. He also, chaired and was a member of various boards at the National Dentist Association. 

Brother G.P. Inge, Jr., a WWI veteran, was a believer in the philosophy of progressive education and served as principal of Phillis Wheatley High School from 1941 to 1963. During the 22 years as the leader of one of the largest segregated schools in the state, he graduated record numbers of students, and their sports teams dominated the states segregated schools in the Prairie View Interscholastic League, and they all knew they could compete with predominantly Anglo institutions. Brother Inge Jr. instituted the “No Pass No Play” rule for athletes during his tenure at the school before it was passed at the state level. 

Brother Valmo Charles Bellinger was a prominent businessman and political party boss who also was the editor of the San Antonio Register.  Founded by Valmo, the paper began printing in 1931, running without interruption for 47 years. Though its initial goal was preserving the political influence of Bellinger’s father, the paper later focused on local, state, and national news of specific concern to San Antonio’s African-American community. Valmo hired his future wife Josephine who assisted him in making the newspaper a success. Valmo donated an archive of the San Antonio Register to the University of Texas at San Antonio’s John Peace Library in 1979. The archive consisted of 22,000 issues and offered an almost complete run of issues from 1945 to 1978. If you ever have a chance to look over these archives, the Psi Alpha History coupled with the Black History of South Texas is remarkable. There are virtually no complete collections of black newspapers in the southwest and only two or three in the entire United States. Many of the articles written were published in Jet and Ebony magazines along with major newspapers reprinting the stories originating in the Register.

Currently, Psi Alpha Chapter has a total of 170 members. Psi Alpha Chapter’s Basileus, Brother Jimmie E. McMillion, has held this role for the past three years. “The Psi Alpha Chapter has been a pillar in the San Antonio community for 80 years. The Omega Men of Psi Alpha in San Antonio have been leaders in various occupations such as business, engineering, education, law, and medicine for many years,” McMillon stated. Our Psi Alpha Chapter historical note to mention is that in the late 1960s, Bro. Warren Eusan, WWII Army Air Corp and Tuskegee Airman Veteran, Theta Chapter ’39, was the driving force that brought the IHQ 47th Conclave to San Antonio which was the key focal point to break down discrimination in the San Antonio Area, becoming the first southern city to fully integrate. In the past years, the Psi Alpha Chapter has brought back a lot of IHQ recognition:

Brother Greg Thompson (Chairman of the Alamo City Black Chamber of Commerce): International Omega Man of the Year in the early 2000s

Brother Brandon Logan (Former President of the Rotary Club of San Antonio): IHQ Citizen of the Year in 2015

Brother Lionel Lyde: IHQ Colonel Charles Young Award Winner in 2017

Ms. Breanna Toney (Represented by Psi Alpha): Winner of the IHQ International Essay Contest in 2016

The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated has 10 International Mandated Programs: Achievement Week, Scholarship, Social Action, Talent Hunt Program, Memorial Service, Reclamation and Retention, College Endowment Fund, Health Initiatives, Voter Registration Education & Mobilization, and NAACP. In the Omega Year, which runs from November-October; several of these programs have been key highlights in Psi Alpha Chapter for the 2019-2020 year.

Scholarship: The Psi Alpha Scholarship Foundation awarded a total of $32,300 in scholarships and grants. A total of 20 seniors in the San Antonio Area were awarded scholarships totaling $30,000.

Talent Hunt Program: Psi Alpha Chapter awarded $1500 in scholarships as Ms. Zora Dickson, a junior and Bexar County Home School Student with a 4.0 GPA, walked away with winning honors.

Reclamation and Retention: Psi Alpha Chapter was awarded the Mighty 9th District Reclamation Large Graduate Chapter of the Year.

Fatherhood Initiative: Psi Alpha Chapter was announced as the winner of the best Fatherhood Initiative in the Mighty 9th District. For this mention, President Dr. David Marion awarded the chapter a $5000 award.

These programs were led by our Vice President, Brother George Mayers, who will transition into the role of President on November 5th as Brother McMillion’s award-winning 3-year term is up.

Psi Alpha Chapter will celebrate their 80th year serving the city on Sunday, November 1st. The day will begin with Brothers visiting the gravesites of the Charter Members who are laid to the rest in the city from 12 PM – 3 PM. The effort will be split into teams of 3 to maintain social distancing. From 5 PM – 7 PM, a Virtual Celebration over Zoom will be held where Brothers will be able to have a meal and socialize as we go through the program. During the program, Brothers from the 40s to the present will discuss the Charter members’ influence on them and any experiences they may have had with the Charter line.

Psi Alpha Chapter recently celebrated our beloved Godfather, Brother Earl Campbell, on October 25th with a drive-by celebration where over 45 vehicles lined up beeping our horns and watching him smile and wave to us as he celebrated 95 years of life. Brother Campbell, a 1944 initiate of the Epsilon Sigma Chapter at Tillotson College which is now Huston-Tillotson University, also celebrated 76 years of serving Omega on October 17, 2020. He was recently interviewed by the Psi Alpha Fatherhood Initiative Committee, where he provided a toolbox of knowledge in speaking on the importance of fatherhood. A point in the interview was when Brother Campbell was asked, “Out of the 4 F’s Faith, Family, Fellowship, and Friendship, which was most important and why? Brother Campbell replied, “Faith is the most important. All of us must have faith in God. He is our creator, having that faith means that fellowship, friendship, and loyalty will follow. In life, whatever we encounter, our faith is the most important thing that we have. Love your neighbor as yourself! (Mark 12:31) If you live by that creed alone…you will certainly live a great life and our lives will be so much better.”

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SAAAACF Report Underscores Inequity in San Antonio

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Groundbreaking study offers in-depth look at the state of the local African American community

SAN ANTONIO — The local African American community continues to face a significant challenge in closing socioeconomic opportunity gaps as reflected by leading social indicators, according to a new study.

The groundbreaking new report, State of the African American Community in San Antonio and Bexar County, is a joint effort by the San Antonio Area Foundation (SAAFdn) and the San Antonio Area African American Community Fund (SAAAACF). It paints a thorough picture of how much work remains to be done to level the playing field for the local Black community – though recent initiatives are striving to reverse the trend.

We’re all well aware of the fact that our beloved city does suffer from socioeconomic disparity and this extensive report reflects this reality when it comes to the African American community

Marjie French

“We’re all well aware of the fact that our beloved city does suffer from socioeconomic disparity and this extensive report reflects this reality when it comes to the African American community,” said Marjie French, CEO of the Area Foundation. “That’s why we’re supporting nonprofits that address these challenges in order to help create a community where everyone has a chance to succeed.”

Toward that goal, the new community-led study – research conducted by Community Information Now – serves as a clarion call for all of us to think more about how we can help our fellow neighbors in need, said Bobby Blount, Chairman of the SAAAACF Board of Directors.

“This report does more than validate what most of us know: African Americans face many challenges in our community,” Blount said. “It provides a foundation for everyone to understand, discuss and take action to improve the livelihood of San Antonians.”

The research was based on various societal focus areas, selected by a 20-member community advisory committee. Some key findings:

• Population: African Americans comprise seven percent of Bexar County; about 20 percent of African Americans are military veterans; in about half of Black households where grandparents live with their minor grandchildren, those grandparents are raising their grandchildren.

• Housing: African Americans have the lowest rate of home ownership (41 percent); more than one-third (37 percent) of Black mortgage applicants are denied; overrepresentation in public housing (20 percent of all HUD-subsidized households).

• Education: Majority of Black students attend Judson ISD, Northside ISD and Northeast ISD; among all districts and charters, there’s overrepresentation in disciplinary alternative programs and out-of-school suspensions as well as in special education programs; underrepresentation in gifted and talented programs and Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

• Finance: African Americans have a lower median income ($48,509) than the county average ($57,157); nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of work-eligible African Americans are in the workforce; they are more likely than the county workforce overall to be unemployed (seven percent).

• Business: Only one percent of San Antonio-New Braunfels metro area businesses with paid staff and five percent of solo-run businesses are Black-owned.

• Health: About one in six (17 percent) working-age African Americans does not have health insurance and are also more likely to have medical debt in collections.

• Criminal justice: African Americans are overrepresented in police arrests as well as in criminal court cases; Blacks – along with Latinos – are the least to be released in cite and release cases for some misdemeanor offenses.

• Social connection: Majority of African Americans (83 percent) have broadband access but still trail other racial/ethnic groups; San Antonio is home to more than 200 Black churches with an average membership of 120 parishioners (excluding megachurches); about six percent of African Americans moved here from another Texas county or out of state.
The advisory committee, led by Blount, consulted with nonprofit advocacy organization Texas Appleseed to develop various policy recommendations to address the inequities highlighted in the report. Among the recommendations:

• Implement alternative methods of traffic law enforcement, including standardizing collection of metrics based on race and ethnicity.

• Invest in public defense to ensure those unable to retain counsel receive equal representation within the criminal justice system.

• Expand eligibility requirements for early education programs in order to enable Black children to be more kindergarten-ready.

• Create more opportunities for Black students to access Advanced Placement courses and gifted and talented programs.

• Expand paid internships as well as outreach programs to increase African American young adult participation in the workforce.

• Make more resources available and lift barriers impeding access to credit in order to increase financial stability for low-income African American households.

• Expand lending and support services to Black small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Though the new report leaves no doubt as to the tremendous challenge ahead, SAAFdn and SAAAACF are not sitting idle. A renewed focus on equity and social justice have led to the creation of strong and effective initiatives meant to close the opportunity gaps identified in the study. Some examples:

• Creation of the SAAAACF Social Justice Fund providing bail and legal aid to those facing low-level offenses.

• SAAFdn teaming up with UP Partnership on implementing Blue Meridian national funding leading to Youth Leadership Development and Workforce Development grants to nonprofits primarily focused on helping communities of color.

• SAAFdn supporting the Corporate Partners for Racial Equity coalition formed by top San Antonio business executives contributing more than $13 million into programs on equitable education, economic opportunities and social justice.

• SAAFdn partnership with the City of San Antonio/Metro Health providing grants to address health disparities exacerbated by the pandemic.

• SAAFdn launching its first-ever San Antonio Equity Fellowship Program, a unique professional development program to champion and help grow nonprofit leaders of color.

• SAAFdn partnering with Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) on the Leading To Change: Building Equity In Community Program focusing on equitable outcomes on affordable housing.

The report concludes with first-person “community voices” essays featuring local African American experts weighing in on the social indicators examined – each voice poignantly bringing to life the somber significance of the statistics. They are: Dr. Gary Bates, Dr. Adena Williams Loston, Ken Lowe, Dr. Travis Batts, Douglas Greene, Darryl E. Harris, Dr. Kenneth R. Kemp and Deborah Omowale Johnson.

Omowale Johnson, CEO and Director of the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum, issued a critical reminder that the local Black community’s relatively small size doesn’t make it any less part of the diverse fabric of our great city.

“The Black community making up 7% of Bexar County may seem at first to be an insignificant group of people,” Omowale Johnson wrote. “However, if the community does not collectively recognize the impact of these statistics, the economic segregation gap will widen.”


About the San Antonio Area Foundation:
The San Antonio Area Foundation (SAAFdn) has served as the city’s community-giving headquarters for nearly 60 years, growing to become one of the top 20 community foundations in the nation. The Area Foundation helps donors achieve their charitable goals supporting our community’s greatest needs, managing more than 500 charitable funds nearly $1 billion in assets. Beyond serving hundreds of nonprofit organizations every year through training and grantmaking, where total impact exceeded $71 million in 2020, the Area Foundation operates a strong student scholarship program. Over $37 million has been invested in our future leaders since 1969 through more than 100 scholarship funds. Learn more at saafdn.org.

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Community

MLK Day of Service

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Alpha Tau Omega Chapter, San Antonio’s local chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated celebrated the Sorority’s 114th Founding Anniversary with a day on and not a day off. For this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. service project they hosted a Community-wide Food and Winter Items Drive. Members collected can goods, non-perishable items, winter wear clothing (hoodies, gloves, jackets, etc.), and blankets. The ladies braved the cold and withstood the windy gusts Saturday morning. Their work was not in vain as they continue to be a service to all mankind.

Thanks to the donations from chapter members and the community, several hundred pounds of food as well as winter wear was collected and will be donated to support the San Antonio Food Bank and homeless street outreach efforts in San Antonio.

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Nation’s Largest MLK March Cancelled

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Due to the current influx of omicron cases in and around San Antonio, the city’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. March has been cancelled. The event was previously scheduled to take place on January 17th, but concerns for public safety and continued presence of the virus on the route led to its cancellation.

The MLK board met and made the decision Thursday night. The board will decide what they plan to include in next Monday’s meeting.

Renee Watson, who is the chairperson of the Martin Luther King march, says that COVID-19 testing will be available together with vaccine shots at Pittman Sullivan Park.

As of Thursday afternoon, the most recent update from DreamWeek says their events are still on but their plans are impromptu.

The in-person event, which had been held every year since 1987, was changed to a virtual event in 2020 at the start of the pandemic.

After over 20,000 diagnoses cases from the first week of the year, it makes sense to cancel a show for safety reasons.

Nathaniel Davis, past chair of Martin Luther King Junior March, died this week. We are saddened by his loss and extend our condolences to his family during this difficult time.

Stayed tuned to Black Video News for the latest statement and updates.

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