Message from the Province Polemarch
My Dear Brothers,
It's hard to believe that in only forty-six days we will convene in the "Gateway City" of St. Louis, Missouri for our 82nd Middle Western Province Council.
This Council will be historic in many ways. Our 30th Grand Polemarch Samuel C. Hamilton will be in attendance and is scheduled to be the Closed Formal Banquet keynote speaker. Senior Grand Vice Polemarch Dwayne Murray and our own Grand Board Member Phillip Hodges will also be in attendance. This Council will be the prelude to when we will again assemble in St. Louis for the 77th Grand Chapter Meeting in July of 2005. The brothers of Beta Nu, Epsilon Eta, Iota Omega and the St. Louis Alumni Chapter along with St. Louis Silhouettes have been working hard to insure a productive and entertaining meeting.
Our host hotel, the Adam's Mark, is in the ideal downtown St. Louis location. The hotel is situated directly across from the Gateway Arch. The hotel has a commanding view of the riverfront area and Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Park. Besides all of the amenities the Adam's Mark has to offer, the brothers of the St. Louis Alumni Chapter will open their house for additional socializing. There are many restaurants in and around the hotel and are within easy walking distance of Laclede's Landing, Union Station and other major points of interest.
Our Grand Polemarch Hamilton has asked each province to sponsor at least one student for the Kappa Kamp to be held at the Piney Woods School located in Piney Woods, Mississippi. The cost of this sponsorship is $585 for a two-week camp experience that includes room and board. To help defray the cost to the province, I am asking each chapter to bring to the Province Council one item of value, which will be placed in a silent auction. Items that could be donated to the auction may be university team jerseys, autographed items, university or Kappa memorabilia, art/craft pieces, or any other items that may be a keepsake with time. It is my intent to make this "silent auction" a permanent fixture of our Province Council. Besides sponsoring a student to our Kappa Kamp, monies above the scholarship fee will be used to help fund other province programming. Please bring an item and your dollars to take part in this worthwhile activity. Shop for birthday, holiday, and other gifts without leaving the hotel. All Chapters donating items will be recognized at our 82nd Province Council.
Please register early and secure your hotel rooms with the Adam's Mark Hotel to lock in your room(s) at the most economical price. Surely you will not want to miss this Council. "See you in St. Louie!"
Yours in the Bond,
Elmer J. Crumbley - Polemarch
Middle Western Province
Brother Coker and Brother Matthews receive Humanitarian Awards
By William H. Coker, II
On January 13, 2004, at the Boettcher Concert Hall - Denver Performing Arts Complex, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the Martin Luther King Awards Committee held the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Concert and Humanitarian Awards Presentation. Five Humanitarian Awards were given and one MLK Lifetime Achievement Award was presented. Our Brothers William H. Coker, II and Keith Cornell ("K.C.") Matthews were both honored with Humanitarian Awards.
Brother Coker was initiated at the University of Kansas Chapter, the Mu of Kappa Alpha Psi, on October 12, 1935. He has served the Denver Alumni Chapter as its Historian for many years, as well as Historian of the Middle Western Province. He was awarded the Middle Western Province's N. Webster Moore History Award in 2002. He has been a stalwart member of Kappa Alpha Psi, the Middle Western Province, and the Denver Alumni Chapter for more years than most of us have lived. His dedication to the fraternity has had a legacy impact on his son, Brother William Henry Coker, III, who is also a great Kappa man in his own right. Brother Coker was selected as the fifth recipient of the Charles W. Morgan, III Lifetime Achievement Award. He received the award at the 81st Middle Western Province Council Meeting on March 29, 2003.
Brother Matthews was initiated at the University of Missouri Chapter, the Iota Omega of Kappa Alpha Psi, on December 9, 1981. He is currently the Denver Alumni Chapter Polemarch and has served the fraternity in a number of capacities including Chapter Vice Polemarch, Beta Theta Chapter Advisor, and a member of the Province Membership Intake Team. He is a Life Member of the fraternity and one of the brightest rising stars of the Middle Western Province.
The following commentaries about our brothers were printed in the celebration's program:
William H. Coker, II was born August 23, 1914, the third son of William H. and Nellie Smith Coker in Iola, Kansas. He has distinguished himself as a devoted husband and father and a consummate community leader. Mr. Coker recently celebrated his 67th year of marriage to Winifred Sue Stone Coker. The Cokers have three daughters and two sons.
Mr. Coker graduated from Kansas Vocational School in Topeka, Kansas, where he was Valedictorian of the Class of 1934. After high school, he attended the University of Kansas where he was the first African-American to enter the University's Freshman/Sophomore Oratorical Contest.
In May of 1936, Mr. Coker was hired by the Union Pacific Railroad as a Club Car Attendant on the Pacific Limited. He moved to Denver and was joined by his wife in August. The Cokers joined and became active members of Shorter A.M.E. Church in July of 1937. Mr. Coker served on the Steward Board, worked with the Sunday school and with the Boy Scout Troop.
Mr. Coker developed a belief in high school that everyone could make a contribution to the community in which they live. He proceeded to make exemplary contributions to Denver Public Schools, civic affairs and community organizations. While serving on Morey Jr. High's Advisory Committee, he became the first African-American man elected president of a Parent/Teacher Association in Denver's history.
Active in scouting for nearly twenty-five years, he was the first AfricanAmerican District Commissioner in the state of Colorado. He received numerous scouting awards including the coveted "Silver Beaver" Award signed by the President of the United States and presented by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Mr. Coker is listed in Who's Who in Colorado and was appointed to the Neighborhood Health Board by Mayor Wellington E. Webb. During the terms of four of Denver's mayors, Mr. Coker served on the Mayor's Capital Improvement Committee. He was instrumental in helping to obtain funding for Kappa Tower, a forty-five unit senior citizen housing project located at 2160 Downing Street. Because of his significant contribution and that of co-founder Leonard G. Chadwick, Sr. (deceased) the Tower's newly completed center was named the Chadwick/Coker Conference Center.
"KC" believes that the greatest gift that one can give is the gift of time. "To whom much is given, much is required" could very well be the motto that defines his life. Because of his commitment to these invaluable ideals, this 41-year-old St. Louis native has tirelessly volunteered his time and talents for the past 19 years helping to insure that many of Denver's inner-city youth have futures filled with positive, not negative, influences.
His volunteer efforts include a number of church, professional, fraternal and civic organizations. In the early 1980s and early 1990s he led the effort to establish Denver's student and professional chapters of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). He worked in 1989 to establish Operation Easy Access, a program that sends construction crews into the Denver metropolitan area to build wheelchair ramps at the residences of citizens who cannot afford to have them built. While president of the Denver Alumni Chapter of NSBE in 1991, "KC" started working with - and currently coordinates - NSBE's Rocket Club Program exposing students in grades 4-6 to math, science and engineering through building model rockets. From 1995-1996, "K.C." served as NSBE's National Alumni Chairperson. During his term, NSBE launched its first national pre-college program, the three-part national high school math competition, "The Try-Math-A-Lon."
"KC" has served as a volunteer with the Colorado Department of Transportation's Transportation Research Activities Center, the Denver Educational Excellence Program (DEEP), the University of Colorado's Success Institute, the Math, Engineering and Science Achievement program (MESA) and many other community efforts designed to expose inner-city youth to career opportunities in engineering and the sciences.
Many talk of making a difference in the lives of others; Keith "KC" Matthews makes the difference. When what is taught at home is not enough, he mentors. When what is taught at schools is inadequate, he tutors; and, when what is taught in the streets is detrimental, he serves as a role model. "KC" is that rare individual who is committed to making life better for young people making an enormous contribution to their success as capable and contributing members of our society.
Brother Mark "Dash" Lewis Promoted
By William H. Coker, II
Brother Mark A. Lewis (aka "Brother Dash") has recently been promoted to Senior Manager of Capital Management for Lockheed Martin Space Systems headquartered in Denver, Colorado.
He is responsible for authorizing and managing a $150M annual capital expenditure budget for operations in Denver, CO, Sunnyvale, CA, Michoud, LA, Harlingen, TX, and San Diego, CA.
In addition, Brother Lewis has been selected by Space Systems' Senior Executive Management to participate in the Lockheed Martin Corporation Leadership & Executive Assessment and Development Program.
"Brother Dash" is in his 3rd term as Denver Alumni Chapter Vice Polemarch. He is a 1978 initiate of Delta Zeta Chapter.
General Counsel Report
By Reuben A. Shelton, III
Founders' Day Message
"Living the Dream"
Brothers, I always enjoy this time of year because we take time to reflect on a choice we made, whether 30 years ago (as in my case) or just last October in Oklahoma City, to adopt a set of principles and standards established 93 years ago by some extremely visionary young men on the campus of the University of Indiana. Below is an excerpt of a speech I have given several times at Founders' Day banquets across the province. I hope you get as much out of reading it as I did preparing it.
Brothers return with me just a moment to yesterday, to the beginning of our great organization. The year is 1910 and a young man named Byron Kenneth Armstrong met another young man named Elder Watson Diggs on the campus of Howard University. It was about this time that Irven Armstrong, Byron's cousin, persuaded his relative to come to Indiana University. Brother Diggs soon followed.
Also envision in 1911, nine young men gathered at the home of Miss Mollie Spaulding, which at the time was the home of Byron Armstrong and Marcus Blakemore, to begin an organization to give a greater voice to blacks on campus. Diggs presided, and Edward Irvin was the temporary secretary. The other members in attendance were Paul W. Caine, Marcus Blakemore, Byron K. Armstrong, Henry T. Asher, Ezra D. Alexander, Guy L. Grant, and John M. Lee. The temporary name of the organization was Alpha Omega until all details of the greek letter society could be developed. Under this organization, friendships flourished and the members recognized each other as a tremendous resource for camaraderie, academic achievement, and social interaction. In other words, even then, the young men saw the unlimited potential of the greek letter organization.
The group met again on January 5, 1911. This time they met to form a permanent organization. Diggs was made the permanent chairman; John Milton Lee, the secretary; and Byron Armstrong, the seargent at arms. These officers would later be called the Polemarch, Keeper of Records, and the Strategus. The members saw this organization as different from the other greek letter organizations that existed at that time. Other organizations chose their members from among the sons of wealthy families, or families whose social positions would vicariously give the group a certain degree of prestige. No my brothers, those brave men in 1911, chose to base their organization, our organization, on Christian principles and ideals, and on the purpose of achievement. The Fraternity would seek to raise the sights of black youth and stimulate them to accomplishments higher than might otherwise be realized or imagined.
Diggs, better known as The Dreamer, wanted everything to be exactly right. He wanted the rituals and other instruments to be unique and authentic. He himself assumed the responsibility for preparing the ceremonial forms. Byron Armstrong was given the job of developing the insignia and emblems. These young brothers were so concerned about their assigned tasks, that they took a course in greek heraldry and greek mythology. By the end of the school year, they had completed sufficient material to embody the major considerations of the fraternity. The new fraternity was called Kappa Alpha Nu. Some think the name was a tribute to a predecessor campus organization, called Alpha Kappa Nu, which was formed in 1903 to foster a better life for blacks at Indiana University. Kappa Alpha Nu was incorporated in the state of Indiana on April 11, 1911.
The application for incorporation was filed over the signatures of EZRA D. ALEXANDER, BYRON K. ARMSTRONG, HENRY T. ASHER, MARCUS P. BLAKEMORE, PAUL CAINE, ELDER WATSON DIGGS, GEORGE EDMUNDS, GUY L. GRANT, EDWARD G. IRVIN, JOHN M. LEE, AND FREDERICK MITCHELL (who is this guy?). Mitchell later withdrew from school and therefore never became a member. An issue of the Kappa Journal reported that Irven Armstrong, would have been one of founding fathers if he had not had to work the night of January 5, 1911, the night the fathers signed their names to the great petition or scroll. He later became the second Grand Polemarch.
Blakemore pawned his watch to help raise the twenty five dollar incorporation fee. The transaction was completed on May 15, 1911. Records indicate that Kappa Alpha Nu became the first undergraduate college fraternity to be incorporated by blacks as a national body. The organization was based on the ideals that neither by statute nor by implication was anyone barred from membership by reason of race, religion, national origin, or economic standing. Kappa Alpha Nu became Kappa Alpha Psi at the fourth Grand Chapter meeting in December 1914, at the University of Illinois. The name was changed to have a greek letter in the designation.
The rest my brothers is part of the glorious history of this noble clan. In these days where we argue about whether to pledge young men or whether a brother is a Nupe or just a Kappa, it serves us well to revisit our history, ideals, and the purpose on which this wonderfully great was built and realize that much of what we debate today is largely irrelevant to who we truly are.
Happy Founders' Day. As always, I am
Yours in the Bond,
Reuben A. Shelton (Past Province Polemarch)
Middle Western Province