By Corey Matthews, Associate Editor to the Sphinx Flushing, NY - It was June 1, 2012. 7pm at Terrace on the Park. The brothers of Alpha Gamma Lambda, the oldest alumni chapter in NYACOA, brought together family, friends and brothers from far and wide to celebrate their 85th chapter anniversary in true Alpha Phi Alpha fashion – a black tie affair.
With the mantra “Alpha’s Greatest Legacy” in tow, the brothers of Alpha Gamma Lambda pulled off a memorable event that guest brothers and attendees ranted and raved about for weeks on in. The guests were met at the first floor of the building by the venue hosts and were personally escorted up to the penthouse floor, where they were then greeted by brothers of Alpha Gamma Lambda with a photo opt and quick directions to the nearest cocktail stand. Guests arrived during the cocktail hour between seven o clock and eight o clock in their nicely tailored tuxedos and shiny shoes, and of course the beautiful women adorned in their evening gowns and best jewelry. To say that they came in their Sunday’s best is simply an understatement. They were stunning. But of course that didn’t stop them from cutting a rug or maybe two, later on in the evening. (insert picture of guests dancing)
At about eight thirty, the chapter president and hosts asked that everyone quiet down to begin the formal program that would acknowledge four dynamic leaders in the Harlem community and share a bit of information about Alpha Gamma Lambda chapter. After the welcome and brief outline of the night’s program, there was of course invocation and yes you guessed it the “Black National Anthem.” Fortunately, the programs provided everyone with the words to the song – after that cocktail hour and the open bar no one really remembers anything after “Till Victory is Won.” For dinner, the guests were met with an Italian and seafood buffet, a salad bar and later a full dessert area. As guests ate and talked with one another brothers couldn’t resist the urge to take pictures outside near the ice sculpture that was custom designed for this memorable evening.
Did I mention that the penthouse overlooked the city skyline? There was an entire patio area that invited brothers and guests to have a drink on the bar, socialize and take pictures against the backdrop of the breathtaking New York City. From the deck you could see everything from the Empire state building to the New York Times building, and all of the other world-renowned New York City skyscrapers. The guests were taken aback by the view, the gentle breeze and of course the flowing cocktails, it was perfect.
Following dinner and with Alpha spirit filling the room, the brothers took the liberty of providing a brief overview of Alpha Phi Alpha history. The brothers started with the founding on an ICE COLD Tuesday December 4, 1906 by the 7 Jewels, the aims, motto, national programs and a nice wrap up about our increasingly important and relevant purpose in the community. This presentation was succeeded by an equally riveting presentation of the history of Alpha Gamma Lambda chapter in New York City and the work that’s been done with several community based organizations, schools and political officials to uplift the Harlem community. Guests were pleased to hear that prominent officials such as Charles B. Rangel (U.S. Congressman), David Dinkins (106th Mayor of New York City), and Rev. Dr. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. (U.S. Congressman and Civil Rights Activist) held membership in the historic chapter that was formerly known as Alpha Psi before its named changed to Alpha Gamma Lambda. Guests and brothers were equally excited to know that Jewels Eugene Kinckle Jones and Vertner Woodson Tandy served in the chapter after it was formed as well.
Now that the formalities of Alpha Phi Alpha history were properly presented and received, it was time to celebrate the four honorees who have been strongholds in Alpha Gamma Lambda’s success. Barbara Martin received the James Avery Community Service award for her work at the Harlem Hospital and Bronx Community College. She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha and has mentored several AGL brothers from youth – a true gem in the community. Next, Dr. Peter R. Barbatis received the Paul Robeson Lifetime Achievement Award for his longstanding education career and great impact at the Bronx Community College of the City of New York. Angela C. Butler, Basileus of Alpha Kappa Alpha Pi Kappa Omega Chapter (Harlem AKAs) received the Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Visionary Leadership Award for her work in community development and childhood education. Finally, our very own brother Erik A. Cliette received the Marshall E. Williams Distinguished Leadership Award for his life long commitment to the Harlem community. He’s served as a four-term president of the Alpha Gamma Lambda chapter and is an educational advocate, author and mentor.
Alpha Gamma Lambda couldn’t select a better set of honorees to highlight this night as their guests knew how to get down once the music turned on and the program ended! Thus, the brothers of Alpha Gamma Lambda were introduced, and all brothers were invited to sing the Alpha Sweetheart song and Alpha Hymn to formerly conclude the program. (insert picture of brothers singing) Once the music dropped, brothers and guests danced the night away. As people left they received a parting gift bag on their way out to thank them for celebrating this festive evening and moment in history with the brotherhood.