Sitting in the immaculate living room of his fraternity house north of campus, far from the beer can-littered lawns and ragged porches of the Central Campus fraternities, Alpha Phi Alpha member Randal Seriguchi explained what it meant for his fraternity to turn 100.

“We’re not having a celebration as a fraternity,” said Seriguchi, an LSA junior. “It’s a celebration as black men.”

Alpha Phi Alpha, the nation’s oldest historically black Greek-lettered fraternity marked its centennial anniversary Dec. 4.

Notable members have included Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall and W.E.B. Dubois.

On its website, the fraternity claims 60 percent of all black male doctors as former members, along with 65 percent of black male dentists and 75 percent of black male lawyers. Additionally, 95 percent of the leaders of historically black colleges and universities have ties to Alpha Phi Alpha, the website says.

The members have all memorized the fraternity’s motto, “First of All, Servants of All, We Shall Transcend All.”

LSA senior Ronnie Johnson Jr. explained how it applied to everyday life.

“To be a minority and have so few numbers, you have to transcend any and all competition,” he said. “It’s important to be as flawless as possible.”

The University’s chapter of the fraternity is devoted to keeping this tradition alive.

To mark the centennial, the brothers here held a program called “The Extinction of the Black Man, 100 years in Review.” Johnson described it as a chance to educate the local community about the highs and lows of being a black man.

The fraternity also holds the annual “Miss Black and Gold” scholarship pageant. But that’s just the beginning of the fraternity’s community service projects.

Members tutor children at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church every Sunday morning at 9 a.m. Last year, they painted a mural in Alice Lloyd Residence Hall for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

This year they plan to revamp the way they celebrate King’s legacy.

“This year we will do something better,” said Alan Crawford, the campus chapter’s vice president. “We will never be complacent with what we do, that’s the goal.”

The fraternity began at Cornell University in 1906 to support minority students facing racial and social prejudice. Four years later, the University of Michigan’s chapter was founded. It was the fifth in the nation.

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