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Black Greek-letter Organizations in the Twenty-First Century: Our Fight Has Just Begun

edited by Gregory S. Parks foreword by Julianne Malveaux and Marc Morial

Availablepaperback$34.95s 978-0-8131-6975-0
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508 pages  Pubdate: 02/07/2017  6 x 9 x 1.5  22 b/w photos

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For much of the twentieth century, black Greek-letter organizations (BGLOs) united individuals dedicated to excellence, fostering kinship ties, and uplifting African Americans. Despite the profound influence of BGLOs, many now question the continuing relevance of these groups, arguing that their golden age has passed. Partly because of the influence of hip-hop culture, the image of BGLOs has been unfairly reduced to a stereotype—a world of hazing and stepping without any real substance. Not only does the general public know very little about these groups, but often the members themselves do not have a deep understanding of their history and culture or of the issues facing their organizations. Gregory S. Parks has assembled an impressive group of contributors to show that the BGLOs’ most important work lies ahead. Black Greek-letter Organizations in the Twenty-first Century: Our Fight Has Just Begun provides historical context for the development of BGLOs and explores their service activities as well as their relationships with other prominent African American institutions. The book examines BGLOs’ responses to a number of contemporary issues, including non-black membership, homosexuality within membership, and the perception of BGLOs as educated gangs, in order to demonstrate that these organizations can create a positive and enduring future.

Gregory S. Parks is coeditor of African American Fraternities and Sororities: The Legacy and the Vision. A life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., he received his PhD in psychology from the University of Kentucky and is a JD candidate at Cornell Law School.

Comprehensive and thorough in its scholarship, Black Greek Letter Organizations in the Twenty-first Century tackles many challenging issues, such as feminism, sexual orientation, racial integration, eating disorders, and organizational behavior. It will spark much discussion and future research on the organizations. It is a must read for members of BGLOs, prospective members, the general public, and especially for student service personnel. -- Robert L. Harris, Jr., coeditor of The Columbia Guide to African American History since 1939

A must read for anyone interested in the future of BGLOs, generally, or their own! -- Sylvia Cyrus-Albritton, Executive Director, Association for the Study of African American Life and History

As recently as fifteen years ago, the body of critical scholarship on Black Greek Letter Organizations was negligible. And yet at various points in history, these organizations have played seminal roles in the African American freedom struggle. Now, with the appearance of Black Greek-letter Organizations in the Twenty-first Century, Gregory S. Parks and other contributors have stepped into this breach with an ambitious collection of essays. -- Kenneth R. Janken, author of Rayford W. Logan and the Dilemma of the African-American Intellectual

An insightful collection of scholarship that examines the role of BGLOs in the twenty-first century. While the story of BGLOs begins with a response to American racism and a mission of activism, this book reminds us that there is much more to know about this rich tradition. Moving beyond familiar discussions around hazing and stepping, the contributors to this volume treat BGLOs as a complex sociological project. From Black womanism to homosexuality, eating disorders to Black Greeks as ‘educated gangs,’ this scholarship works to carefully deconstruct one of this nation’s most compelling cultural entities. -- Robin Coleman, editor of Say It Loud! African American Audiences, Media, and Identity

In the history of American fraternal orders and college fraternities, African American contributions have long been overlooked. Dr. Parks has successfully organized a distinguished group of scholars and writers who have created a book that fills this oversight. Black Greek Letter Organizations in the Twenty-First Century makes a significant contribution by providing a one-volume overview of the entire history of BGLOs in the 21st century. The interpretation and information of this book should be required reading for all interested in American fraternity. -- Mark A. Tabbert, author of American Freemasons: Three Centuries of Building Communities

A masterpiece of multidisciplinary scholarship that clearly demonstrates the contemporary relevance of black fraternities and sororities by critically examining their remarkable history and thoroughly analyzing their present-day problems. -- Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Ohio State University

Gregory Parks’ latest contribution to the documentation and analysis of historically black fraternities and sororities should be celebrated and widely read. The impact of these groups on African American and mainstream American life in the 20th century must be understood. And Black Greek Letter Organizations in the Twenty-First Century will offer considerable insight into their unique histories, challenges and modern-day issues. -- C. Brian Williams, Founder and Executive Director, Step Afrika!

This work is incisive as to the actions Black Greek-letter Organization’s research can examine; scholarship is a critical need in our community and has a chance to be achieved with some guidance and inspiration from our groups. We commend the writers for their in depth comments and thoughts and for a retelling of the history of these important groups. -- Cornell Leverette Moore, Grand Sire Archon Sigma Pi Phi

Makes a desperately needed contribution to the current literature on BGLOs. In assembling an impressive range of scholars, research methodologies, and disciplinary frameworks, Gregory Parks has given this under-researched topic the level of critical attention that it deserves. In particular, the contributors reject purely romantic or cynical postures in favor of theoretically sophisticated and personally informed investigations into the contours, complexities, and contradictions of BGLOs. This volume will stand as a central text for anyone interested in the rich legacy and vibrant future of Black sororities and fraternities. -- Marc Lamont Hill, author of Beats, Rhymes, and Classroom Life: Hip-Hop, Pedagogy, and Youth Identities

As a fraternity man, I thought there was little left for me to learn about the Greek experience. This book proved me terribly wrong. It's a must-read, must-have, and the most comprehensive examination of Black Greek culture in print today. -- Derek Fordjour, Artist/Producer

This book is an essential piece of scholarship for anyone who wants to better understand the history, challenges and triumphs of middle and upper-class African Americans in the early 1900s and beyond. Frank in its delivery and candid to a fault, no topic is too sensitive for exploration. This book will leave you with a renewed appreciation of African American culture. -- Cheli English-Figaro, Esq., Cofounder and President Emerita, Mocha Moms, Inc.

Black Greek Letter Organizations in the Twenty-first Century is a remarkably well-crafted and thoroughly researched, collective history of BGLOs and their impact on the African American culture and community. -- African American Literary Review & News

This book offers research, theoretical perspectives, and practical models that can be used to examine BGLOs, influence future scholarship and practice, and bring greater awareness and knowledge to student affairs and BGLO leaders. -- Lori D. Patton and Natasha Croom, Journal of College Student Development