This site accompanies a workshop called #BlackBrothersMatter, created by Rashid Darden and originally presented at the 2016 Alpha Phi Omega National Convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.   Subsequently presented at the 2017 Section 82/83 Conference at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia. 

Starting Points:

Case Study #1

College Freshman Casey Watkins is attending the organizational fair and stops at the Alpha Phi Omega table. He is African American. In conversation, you learn that he is 21 years old, possesses a GED, enjoys recreational basketball, and lived in St. Louis, Missouri from his birth until late 2014.

How do you recruit Casey?


Case Study #2

Freshman Carla Williams’ father and uncles pledged APO at Alcorn State in the early 1980s but they have had no engagement with the fraternity since then. She has strong familiarity with the letters and approaches you one day after English class just to say hello. When you ask her whether she’s thought about following her father’s footsteps, she says “Oh, I could never!”

Why does she believe Alpha Phi Omega is not open to her? What would you say to convince her otherwise?


Case Study #3

Senior Shanita Russell has been a member of APO all four years. She has remained active even though she ran for president several times and lost. Other members of the chapter have told her she is angry all the time. They are not interested in having conversations with her about issues that are important to her.
You are Shanita’s section chair. You approach her about joining section staff, and she confides how exhausted and unhappy she is with her Alpha Phi Omega experience.

What do you say next?

Case Study #4

Alumna Sonia Brown pledged APO in the mid-1980s as a Freshman at an elite university in North Carolina. As a Junior, she chartered a chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. After she graduates, she has little contact with Alpha Phi Omega outside of her pledge class friends. She remains active in Alpha Kappa Alpha while ascending professionally in the field of public policy. There are rumors that she will be tapped for Secretary of Education under the next Democratic presidency.

How do you engage this alumna?


If you are looking for a great resource on diversity issues in Alpha Phi Omega, look no further than Brother Jennifer Gormley. She is ready to field your questions.

Final Takeaways

1. Address people-centered issues in your service program: mentoring, tutoring, poverty, etc.
2. Sell the fraternity’s leadership program.
3. Empathize with everyone’s origin story.
4. Be aware of intersectional identities.
5. When confronted with misconceptions, share the facts.
6. Invite the prospective member to join you on a service project.
7. Be direct: invite the prospective member to pledge.
8. Understand the history and culture of APO at HBCUs and among black people.
9. Understand that racial bias and microaggressions are real and ongoing for black APO brothers.
10. Know that you personally could make the difference between them leaving forever or staying a little longer.
11. Empathize with their current situation, but always invite them to greater service.
12. Understand why some Brothers become active in predominately black organizations upon graduation.
13. Invite alumni to return to service only at a level commensurate with their station in life.
14. Appropriately honor those alumni who do return.


Dedicated to Celestial Brother Adejimi Shopade, Mu Alpha Chapter, Spring 2001.