Cleveland organization uses history, teaching of Martin Luther King Jr. to mentor young men

Published: Jan. 14, 2023 at 9:03 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - “First of all, Servants of all.” It’s the motto for Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated.

For over 120 years, the country’s first Black fraternity have molded young men into leaders.

The Cleveland chapter is continuing that tradition with an initiative that is mentoring the next generation.

The Alpha Esquires is a mentoring group lead by the Delta Alpha Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, created to give young men a sense of trust and comfort.

For those individuals, it’s hard find that safe space to express themselves, without fear of judgement.

Gavin Christian is one of those teenagers who had to overcome some doubts in his life, and Alpha Esquires helped him grow as an individual.

“I was seeking guidance outside of school,” Christian said. “I didn’t feel like I was welcomed there. It’s something where I do feel welcome in Esquires.”

The nature of the program is to foster young men into becoming men, doesn’t happen overnight.

The program mentors young men through a host of initiatives, including civic work, financial literacy, family dynamics and education.

“You’re taking them through the route of academics to make sure that they’re strong,” Chapter President Harold Anderson said. “They’re academics so that they can become great young men. At the same token we’re just grooming them for what it is to be a gentleman.”

The benefits of those teachings are paying dividends.

“We have guest speakers sometimes which come, and we’re able to be engaged while also being able to just be a good group and be interactive. So you know what we’re here for, all the kids become a family and they start understanding,” Christian said.

Dealing with teenage boys, in any situation, but particularly for this program, has presented some challenges.

But the methods the Alphas use to reach the ones who understand the overall goal of being an Esquire is simple.

It’s by combining two principals, that are one in the same: Knowledge and power.

Then you can do a lot of things to support and more or less our power will come through service.

“If you’re knowledgeable, you can pursue getting stronger as a person, getting stronger mentally and physically, and just generally having a better understanding of life,” Christian said.

A man who personified “Knowledge is Power” better than anyone was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who is considered one of the greatest men ‘Alpha Phi Alpha’ has ever produced.

Fifty-five years after his death, his legacy and teachings are prevalent today.

“He really inspired me by showing me that I really can do what I want to do in life,” Christian said.