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The Dartmouth
June 23, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Alphas invoke Obama, Sharpton as black leaders

Members of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity led a discussion on the place of black leaders in America Wednesday night.

The program, titled "Where Have Our Leaders Gone?" addressed varied leaders that have represented the changing roles of blacks since Hurricane Katrina.

Kevin Boakye, one of six Alpha members leading the discussion, expressed the event's ability to expose diverse views held by black students on campus.

"This looked like an opportunity to step up and foster dialogue," Boakye said.

The panel addressed a selective group of current black political leaders, including popular Senator Barack Obama, D-Ill., and outspoken New York minister, Al Sharpton, and their impact on American society.

Following the presentation, Alpha members invited discussion from students in attendance, who expressed their personal opinions on varied topics from the need and expectation for black leaders to the main issues facing the black community.

"Black leaders are needed to bring issues that affect the black community to the forefront," Jarrell Mitchell '09 said.

Some students, however, questioned the all-male selection of leaders the Alpha members examined.

"I wonder why other women did not make the list, like Rosa Parks and Maya Angelou," Bridgette Hylton '06 said.

The discussion developed as students shared their beliefs on the position of blacks and the perceived powerlessness of the black community.

Students expressed the necessary actions needed to dispel such attitudes.

"We need to address and understand what America thinks about the black community," Njuguna Thiongo '06 said.

Focus in the discussion shifted to the characteristics students believed a leader needed to represent the black community. Attendees discussed the changes that needed to occur in America to allow blacks to progress forward.

"I think the one main criteria for black leaders needs to be their ability to motivate," Russell Gordon '06 said.

Alpha members said the presentation was pivotal in creating a dialogue that allowed students to question current black leaders. Many students disagreed on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's place in the black community while others mentioned television personality Oprah Winfrey as an exemplemenary black female leader.

The event was co-sponsored by the Programming Board and the Panhellenic Council.