Reflections 20 Years After Pledging

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March 14, 2010 commemorated my 20th year as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.As the cliché goes, I can remember “crossing over” it as if it were yesterday. Like some people that pledge a Greek Letter Organization, and unlike others, I had no idea of what fraternity life on a Black College campus meant. Technically, I didn’t know anything about fraternities and sororities on any level.

I guess in an odd way, my first “real” introduction to fraternities was through the viewing of Spike Lee’s part satire, part musical, part drama, School Daze. I can remember leaving the theater in 1988 after seeing the movie my senior year of high school with one prevailing thought: “I will never pledge anything!!” For those who have never seen the movie there are a lot of sub-plots, but one of the main components of the story centers on the G-Phi-G pledgee known as Half-Pint. Half-Pint (played by Lee) had to follow the bizarre orders of the “big brothers” to pledge the fraternity, which would then open the proverbial “college golden gates” where cool points, hot women and status reside.

Anyone beyond the age of 16 knows that there is a contingency of people who do join groups, such as fraternities and sororities, to have a sense of belonging and gain some virtual level of appeal and prestige. When I hit the campus of Florida A&M University in August of 1988 I knew that if I were going to be known for anything, it wouldn’t be because of an affiliation with an organization. I think that its important to know this, because there often times lies a feeling that members of Greek organizations have a sense of entitlement or superiority. Although that does exist on some levels with some individuals; it certainly is not a global position.

Luckily it didn’t take long for me to develop a good reputation on campus based on my personal merits and from developing friendships with different guys who were members of fraternities I started to have a different sense of what membership could mean. I grew to the understanding that my joining the frat wasn’t defining my character; it was a transaction between the frat and me. I would give the Beta Nu Chapter of A-Phi-A service as a person, a character and a model on the campus and in the community and in return I would enter into a life-long relationship with some of the most helpful, entertaining and socially/culturally developed African American males as brothers.


2006 Reunion for Spring 1990 – Nubians of the Nu Dynasty, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. – Beta Nu Chapter (Florida A&M University)

#1 – David Wells #2 – Joel Johnson #3 – Patrick Scott #4 – Byron White #5 – Rich McCloud #6 – Derrick McCants #7 – Teddy Gilmore #8 – Reggie Wynn (not pictured) #9 – Robert Flakes #10 – Dr. Joseph Youngblood
#11 – David Askew Esq. #12 – Michael Bonds #13 – Michael Hargrett
#14 – Kwame Kilpatrick #15 – Vince Adams

Spring 1990 was actually the last of the pledge classes that “legally” participated in public hazing such as dressing in uniform, shaved heads, etc. before being a member of the fraternity/sorority. I could go into how fun/scary it was to pledge the fraternity that Spring, but that’s not the point of my sharing. I would really like to share that the time that I spent learning more about myself during the pledge process and more importantly after pledging has molded my resolve, my aspirations and my tenacity in a way that quite honestly would not have been there without those experiences.

Today, relationships I share with my pledge brothers (15 in all) and the Beta Nu Chapter are bonds that only the natural passing of life can break. 20 years later, to a great extent, I feel the same way about being known for my own merits. I still feel that the fraternity accentuates my character, it definitely doesn’t define it.

To all members of Greek Letter Organizations, I hope that my words in some part speak to you on the feelings and spirit that come from the experiences you’ve had. To people who have never pledged, I hope that I have shared a brief glimpse into my experience that may debunk some of the myths that are unfavorable as it relates to the attitude/mentality of those that have pledged.

20 years ago, I learned that “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” To my mother, my family and the life-lessons I learned with Alpha and FAMU, I owe everything.

Click to join the discussion with DJ Vince Adams on twitter! @DJVinceAdams

Peace and my blessings,
Vince Adams – Spr 90 BN – AΦA

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2 Responses to “Reflections 20 Years After Pledging”

  1. Correctly your article helped me terribly much in my college assignment. Hats off to you enter, will look forward in the direction of more related articles without delay as its sole of my pick issue to read.

  2. Jeremy Geiger Says:

    I feel you all the way on this post. Before I pledge I did not know anything about greek life except what was shown on School Daze and the Que dogs that lived around the corner from the crib. I didnt want to pledge either until I actually got a chance to see what the whole frat thing was about and what I can gain out of it. There are some people out there who do it to make friends and is their whole life, but the pledge process has taught me more about myself and it was a good experience.

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