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Afro-Am Not A “Black Fraternity”

November 8, 2019

This piece represents the opinion of the author.

This article was originally published in the Orient on April 7, 1972.


This column will attempt to represent the various ideas and philosophies of the members of the Afro-American society at Bowdoin College, and the Black community in America and abroad. We hope that this column will be a forum for black thought instead of being the mouthpiece of a particular individual or group. The views of A.A.S. members, and newspaper and magazine articles representing the many divergent philosophies of the black community will be presented. It is our aim to help educate the Bowdoin College community by this column, which we believe will answer the questions that many of you have but are possibly afraid to ask.

We hope you will find this column interesting, stimulating, and most importantly  will help you gain a better understanding of us. Keep in mind that every article does not necessarily reflect the ideas and sentiments of all A.A.S. members.

The first article by a member of the A.A.S. attempts to answer the question often posed to A.A.S. members by Bowdoin College students, faculty and administration about our organization.

As Black students on a white campus, we find ourselves the object of many questions. For the sake of time and space, I will address myself to one of these questions. One question frequently asked is, “Does the Afro-American Society segregate itself from the Bowdoin College community, thereby becoming a Black fraternity?”

The question of our being a Black fraternity is out of context, although if one goes back to the original meaning of “Fraternity” you might see how we view our organization.  Webster’s Dictionary defines fraternity as being:

1)    a group of people associated or formally organized for a common purpose, interest.

2)    a national or local men’s student organization formed chiefly for social purposes, having secret rites, and a name constituting of usu. three Greek letters.

Most Fraternities on this campus, I believe fit definition No. 2. Their function is primarily social although summer engaged in charities etc.. The Afro-American Society unlike college fraternities, best fits definition No. 1. We are united in our efforts to better the condition of Bowdoin College by working for the needs of its black students. On a larger scale we are committed to the Blackman gaining an equal share of his political, social and economic rights in America and abroad. Definition No. 1 is in no way a peculiarity to the Afro-American Society. For example, Bowdoin College fits this definition also, since it is a gathering of dedicated people interested in providing a stimulating education for its students. Black people’s status universally is more important than parties to us. Do not take this as a condemnation of those fraternities that have parties. I am not criticizing this practice, I am only saying that the Afro-American Society is not primarily concerned with parties

We do not segregate ourselves from the Bowdoin College community. In addition to presenting speakers, plays, etc. to the college community, A.A.S. members serve on the student council, the Governing boards, participate on athletic teams, and many student organizations and activities. Because of our varied activities, we, as Black students need an organization such as the A.A.S. to give free expression to our Black identity and to maintain togetherness. If we can know and strengthen ourselves in the cause of freedom and an end of the oppression of Blacks, we can make a better contribution to the Bowdoin College community.

We want to develop and extend our great potential as a people. The Afro-American Society affords us the opportunity to come together, we do not come together because of hate (for we cannot afford to waste our time engaging in such destructiveness) but brotherly and sisterly love for one another.

We desire the intellectual tools that Bowdoin College has to offer, and we feel we can give the college something good but different that will help it become a better college for all.

– – –

The A.A.S. would like the Bowdoin College community to be aware that the Fourth Anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King occurred April 4, 1972. We hope all will take a moment to pause and thank this man who struggled to right the wrongs of America.

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