It has been quite a while since I have attended the Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. Philadelphia Alumni Chapter Black and White Ball, but I can assure you that the elegance and the magic of the affair was very much intact. Stanley A. Simpkins, who chaired the Black tie charity ball with the help of committee members: James E. Andrews, Damian S. Jackson Esq., Dr. Walter E. Bantom III, Kenard Kendrick, Weldon Bazemore Jr., Barrington W. Lessene, Irving L. Briddell Jr., Michael Lockwood, John L. Byars, Leon K. Chain, James K. Gordon, Anthony F. Patterson Sr., Lionel S. Hoye, William Rivers Jr., Robert Hunter Jr., Junious R. Stanton and Albert E. Wilkins did an amazing job of making this a memorable evening. The ball took place at the Sheraton Philadelphia Center City Hotel on Saturday, June 9.
“This year’s goal is to support our Achievement Academy, Achievement Center and the Hiliary H. Holloway Sr. Scholarship fund,” said Chairman Simpkins. “This year’s theme, “Charity Begins at Home,” speaks to the urgency of ensuring that our young boys and men are appreciated and know how important they truly are. Each boy and young man we mentor and support becomes a blessing to their families, our community and our fraternity. The work being done and the programs offered are vital to their development. The Academy is now going beyond and mentoring these young men during their college years. What a blessing to know that our great chapter has the insight and foresight to answer the call to action to ensure that mentoring and concern for their future is a continuum,” Chairman Simpkins remarked. Last year’s ball raised more than $7,000 for charitable organizations.
Distinguished, current officers of Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. Fraternity, Philadelphia Alumni Chapter are: Polemarch (President) Bruce B. Rush, 1st Vice Polemarch (President) Robert Hunter Jr., and 2nd Vice Polemarch (President) Darren Lipscomb. Other officers are: Anthony D. Jackson, Mikal Anderson, L. Douglas Harrell Jr., Anthony H. Lawson, John W. Nelson Jr., John Cunningham, Dennis Butler, W. Wilson Goode Sr., Rodney Whitmire, Ronald G. Johnson, Victor T. Wyatt and James E. Andrews. Those serving as members of the board of directors are: Duane E. Archie, Jerome Dean, Norman K. Spencer Sr., T. Jeffrey Vernon, Louis A. Williams Jr. and Steven Kinsey.
More than 300 guests, supporters and members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. enjoyed an evening of great music by “Coast to Coast Band,” lots of dancing, delicious food and libations. It was quite a vision to see a combination of the beautiful ladies wearing Black and white along with the gentlemen, also adhering to the same strict fashion guidelines, wearing Black tuxedos or white dinner jackets. It was a special delight to see that color palette transferred to the décor as well. It was quite a visual feast, indeed, to accompany a lovely gourmet meal.
One of the highlights of the evening for me was having the opportunity to speak with Dr. Keith A. Earle about one of this year’s non- profit, charitable fundraiser recipients, which was Achievement Academies. Earle serves on the board of the organization and spoke passionately and eloquently about how this organization mentors young boys and men, ages 9–19, to learn life skills and values that they might not learn in traditional school settings.
Another highlight of the evening was the incredible voice of Barrington W. Lessene as he led his fellow members in serenading the beautiful ladies with “The Kappa Sweetheart Song.” This was a mellow and beautiful moment that I was absolutely thrilled to be there for.
Thanks to fraternity member and Philadelphia Tribune columnist, Alonzo Kittrels, I was able to gain significant insight about the history of one of Philadelphia’s premiere Black tie events, “The Black and White.” In his column, “Back in the Day,” written last year he wrote, “From 2004 until this year, there was a void in holding the Black and White Ball. As I reflect on our balls of past years, I cannot help but to think about those brothers that did the “heavy lifting” to enable this event to stand the test of time and be highly successful over the years. Perhaps this void existed because Men of Kappa like Calvin Wesley, Harold Rush and Harold Adams are no longer with us. This is not a problem peculiar to Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc., but it is a problem facing too many of our Black organizations; people willing to receive but not enough people willing to give. Do you want to see elegant females and dapper men in an upscale environment at the next dance you attend, particularly a formal affair? Then hope that the affair will borrow some of the concepts and will come close to the Black and White Balls that we attended, back in the day.”
I am delighted that such a fine and honorable tradition continues. History can and does repeat itself in a positive way. The men of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc. Philadelphia Alumni Chapter are commended for their continued support of our community. Congratulations, and thank you for allowing me to be a part of such an incredible event. I will treasure my souvenir, inscribed martini glass for many years to come.