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Alpha Phi Alpha Leader Accused of Financial Improprieties

This letter was written by historian Gregory Parks, a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.  It alleges financial improprieties within the organization.

 

Dear Brothers,

 As an Alpha man, one imbued with the faculties of intelligence and reason, I ask that you bear with me and read the following words before you close your mind or come to any conclusions:

A few years ago, a young lady who worked at Alpha Phi Alpha’s Corporate Office began posting tweets (on Twitter) about financial mismanagement that was taking place amongst our leadership. Specifically, her target was General President Mason. Somehow, I obtained the young lady’s e-mail address and sent her a message. In that message, I asked her not to use such a public space to air her concerns and outrage.

I urged her to turn to a body of men imbued with bravery, integrity, selflessness, and vision—just some of the hallmarks of leadership in its best sense. That body of men was Alpha Phi Alpha’s Board of Directors. I don’t know what decision that young lady made, but in time and with great disappointment, I have come to know many within that group of men as cowards, concerned with their own advancement, VIP status, hotel suites and limousines, and place in the spotlight. But what they have not been concerned with is what is best for Alpha. Instead, as a body, they have sat for the past three years plus and let one man pimp Alpha.

It is a tragedy that now as the proverbial “stuff” hits the fan (which I will share in part, shortly) you hear whispers from brothers who knew that we were headed down this road. They, however, would not speak out to save Alpha. As I noted some time ago, during our last General Presidential campaign, I sent an e-mail to various Alpha list-serves.

In an e-mail entitled “Remember These Seven,” I tried to articulate the reasons why brothers should have been concerned about the candidacy of Brother Herman “Skip” Mason. Probably due much to my own fault, given my tone, the e-mail fell on many deaf ears. But given what I saw back then, what I see now, and the illegal activities that Brother Mason admitted to at the Southwestern Regional Convention, somebody has to call for his resignation from office and for his discipline.

Around the time I was coming into Alpha (1997), Brother Mason was selling hisbook—“The Talented Tenth: Biographical Sketches of the ‘Jewels’ of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.” He researched, wrote, and self-published this book while acting as the Fraternity’s archivist. As such, while collecting materials for the Fraternity’s archives, he used his position to profit off of Alpha. In essence, he p****d the Fraternity.

Just a couple of years later, Brother Mason released an expanded, hardbound version of his book with a new title—“The Talented Tenth: The Founders and Presidents Alpha.” Despite the sitting General President’s demand that Brother Mason not publish the book, Brother Mason self-published it, using materials he gathered in his position as the Fraternity archivist. Again, he p****d the Fraternity.

When charged to set-up the Centennial Convention Archival Exhibit, Brother Mason was given an extensive budget of tens-of-thousands of dollars. He put together a grand display, but instead of returning the exhibit to the Fraternity and the brotherhood, he has kept it for himself. Again, he p****d the Fraternity.

The Fraternity paid forty-four thousand dollars to secure Charles Harris Wesley’spapers. The papers were reportedly shipped to Brother Mason, never to be seen by the brotherhood. Again, it seems that he has p****d the Fraternity.

Brother Mason, through his leadership or lack thereof, has lost our brotherhood somewhere between 2.5 and 3 million dollars. All the while, he has dined on the most sumptuous of meals, stayed in suites, ran up a five figure limousine and car service bill, and flown around the globe in first class style and seating, far exceeding the travel budget of any of his predecessors. In an era in which many brothers have lost their jobs and homes, Brother Mason sought to rule in luxury. Again, he p****d the Fraternity.

And then the recent draft audit and subsequent details revealed that Brother Mason had his wife set-up a publishing company. Using the Fraternity’s archivalmaterials, Brother Mason began publishing works on the Fraternity and requiring the Fraternity to purchase and include those publications in convention registration packets. He turned a nice profit and again, and he p****d the Fraternity.

And then, just last week—he admitted to the Southwestern Region in one of only five questions that the brothers were permitted to ask him, that despite Fraternity regulations against the use of the Fraternity credit card for personal purchases, he paid his children’s private school tuition. He explained that he took the money, because his wife was out of work and that his pay had been docked because he had missed almost 400 days of work.

I think any brother with even a modicum of compassion could understand the bind our brother found himself in. But his solution should have been to ask for help or put his children in public school. He didn’t choose those options. Some of his supporters suggest that the money was merely borrowed. But there is no report of the Board of Directors authorizing said charges. There is no report of a promissory note having been drafted.

In fact, when asked about repaying it, Brother Mason indicated that he would, but he didn’t know when. Brother Mason didn’t borrow that money; he stole from his brothers and came up with an ad hoc explanation once caught. Again, he p****d our Fraternity.

I have held my tongue and my opinion, to a large extent, these many months. Brother Mason’s total lack of regard for the economic times in which we live, his disregard for his brothers, and his disregard for his Fraternity has not been enough to make me speak out. But he stole from you, from me, from us. In the past, there have been District Directors and regional leadership who, too, have stolen from the Fraternity and r****d the brothers of the faith that we have placed in them.

Those brothers were stripped of power, removed from office, and either suspended or expelled from the Fraternity for their transgressions. But Brother Mason has stated that he will not step down from office. In fact, he has a trip to Haiti planned. Even more, there is no force within our body that has proven itself courageous or concerned enough to sanction our brother for his transgressions.

But on this night, I ask Brother Mason to Remember the Seven, to show some honor and integrity, to be a leader, and to step down from his post. While I think he owes it to us to answer our questions, in full, at each of the remaining regional conventions, he doesn’t deserve a day more than that in office.

Even more, I do what I have up until now been unwilling to do, that is to sign the petition recalling him from office. I ask you, my brothers, to do the same once you have satisfied yourselves of the facts, many of which are being hidden and obscured by our Board of Directors. Lastly, I ask the brothers on the Board of Directors to mete out some measure of justice—to, at the very least, suspend Brother Mason commensurate with whatever precedent has been established in similar situations.

Even more, I ask that any record of his name and administration be stricken from our history book, as it would be unfair and inaccurate to tell his story and not the whole story.

My brothers, if we don’t remedy this matter in-house, there are external forces that will do it for us. Every secret comes to light, and when this secret does, everything we claim to stand for will be for naught. If it is revealed to the world that we are incapable of managing our finances and holding our own corrupt leaders accountable, when this story breaks, we will lose everything—our corporate sponsorships, our partnerships, and even worse, our credibility.

It will take years for our Fraternity to rebuild what was lost. Even more, the very financial activities your chapters rely on sustain themselves—the beautillion, the Founder’s Day Ball, the Martin Luther King Breakfast—will be compromised.

Some of Brother Mason’s supporters suggest that he has raised Alpha’s profile. But how? Much of our national acclaim in the past several years has come from the MLK Memorial, begun long before Brother Mason took office. What’s for sure is that when his corrupt and illegal activities go public, he’ll surely raise our profile but not in a good way.

Some of Brother Mason’s supporters might suggest that in sending this e-mail, I have besmirched Brother Mason’s name and disrespected the office of the General President. The truth is, however, that it is Brother Mason who has sullied his name and brought ill-repute upon the office of General President. Honestly, I didn’t vote for General President Mason, but I had hoped that he would grow into the office he now holds. Instead, he has reduced it to his stature.

It is with a heavy heart and a great deal of angst that I send you this e-mail. Indeed, much of my angst is selfish. In all honesty, I’d rather not be in this fight for the future of Alpha, at least not this way. I know Alphas. I know that too many of us prefer image over substance or can’t discern the difference between them.

Too many of us like the image of leadership more than the realities of leading. Too many of us like to remember the Jewels rather than live the values they gave us. I know that many of my brothers will crucify the messenger rather than hold corrupt leadership accountable.

My research and writing on black Greek-letter organizations these many years has been driven by a desire to make them, generally, and Alpha, specifically, better. But I realize now that in order to make Alpha what it was intended, what it is destined, to be my efforts can no longer be from behind the safe confines of a desk and computer.

My prayer over the past several weeks has been that someone else would take-up this mantle, to tell you these hard truths. Now my prayer is that you love Alpha like you say you do and that your conviction will lead you to bring some accountability, forgiveness, and vision to what we both hold dear.

Fraternally,
Brother Gregory Parks



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19 Responses to Alpha Phi Alpha Leader Accused of Financial Improprieties

  1. charles childs Reply

    October 26, 2012 at 4:33 am

    Ask a alpha brother myself all problem should be handle in house from public eye.No man is free from sin we will sin some time ,we all do.My brothers’ of Alpha phi Alpha learn from your error
    and move on ..I takes a great man to tell the world I sin and will do better.As a brother who pledge this man .I love him and know man will sin.Are we big enough to forgive him.The damage this Fraternity will feel is the one of not forgiving .Move on brothers you are strong , no one bring down a great Fraternity.

  2. Ron Owens Reply

    October 2, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    I pledged Alpha at ARK AM&N College in 1966. I am very disappointed in our young brother if he is indeed guilty of these accusations. The charges should be thoroughly investigated and we should not be too quick to jump to conclusions without all the facts.

    I agree this should not be a public forum for all to see, but now that it has been made public we can’t undo what has already be done. The question now is how do we respond without making things worst.

    I encourage our national leaders to sit down and sort this thing out and do as much damage control as possible. We should always put the Fraternity first in what ever decisions we make.
    Thank you, Brother Ron Owens
    1966 UAPB formerly ARK AM&N College

  3. Lumus Byrd, Jr. Reply

    August 6, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Thank you Brother Parks.

    We, The Brotherhood, should all be PRACTITIONERS of TRANSPARENCY and ACCOUNTABILITY.

    Brother Lumus Byrd, Jr.
    Life Member # 670

  4. DOROTHY BROOKS Reply

    July 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    SAW ON TV TODAY, A JUDGE DELAYED A RULING ON THE LAW SUIT SKIP MASON FILED IN REFERENCE TO HIS DISMISSAL. WHAT MAKES HIM THINK HE SHOULD HAVE HIS JOB BACK.YOU VIOLATED RULES-NOW WALK EVERY BLACK ORGANIZATION ( MEN) WANT TO FILE A LAWSUIT WHEN ASKED TO LEAVE AFTER VIOLATING RULES.YOU MUST SET BETTER EXAMPLES FOR YOUNG BLACKS COMING UP.YOU MESSED UP LEAVE. STOP RUNNING AMOS AND ANDY STYLE MANAGEMENT. I AM ASHAME OF YOU.

  5. DOROTHY BROOKS Reply

    July 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    SAW ON TV TODAY, A JUDGE DELAYED A RULING ON THE LAW SUIT SKIP MASON FILED IN REFERENCE TO HIS DISMISSAL. WHAT MAKES HIM THINK HE SHOULD HAVE HIS JOB BACK.YOU VIOLATED RULES-NOW WALK EVERY BLACK ORGANIZATION ( MEN) WANT TO FILE A LAWSUIT WHEN ASKED TO LEAVE AFTER VIOLATING RULES.YOU MUST SET BETTER EXAMPLES FOR YOUNG BLACKS COMING UP.YOU MESSED UP LEAVE. STOP RUNNING AMOS AND ANDY STYLE MANAGEMENT. I AM ASHAME OF YOU.

  6. Swayback Reply

    July 20, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Bottom-line, attacking the messenger here is both cowardly and beside-the-point. Bro Mason and the Board are not Gods who are above reproach and cannot be questioned.
    Alpha is about brotherhood and equality amongst its members- no one is “more equal” than another.
    IMO, there is likelihood of a cover-up that needs to be investigated, prosecuted, and cleansed…not hidden away because we value image over substance.
    For those who think that Bro Parks airing this issue in public will “embarrass the Frat”, remember that old adage- “One monkey don’t stop no show”.
    ANY Alpha, whether an officer or not, shoul be held accountable if they’v done wrong. Period.

  7. Mike Reply

    July 15, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    This is not the place for us to air our business, period…

  8. richard smith Reply

    July 12, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Are most of you people deaf and blind!? Did you not read the man’s discomfort with going outside the fraternity?! He has WAITED!NOTHING has happened!Get your noses out of your embarassed a***s and ACT. Get rid of this cancer that has taken over your highest offices,act like Alphas.

  9. Jabir Hazziez Jr Reply

    June 10, 2012 at 7:13 am

    I agree with Brother Bryan Gillin. This is an issue that should have been handled internally within the House. The bigger question is why our elected leaders did not? Now that it is public, and has been for sometime before Brother Gregory Parks sent out the above letter in the form of an email to “Brothers,” what is our intelligent response?

    It is my opinion that the negative, hurtful comments, and name calling that some of my bruhs have resorted to in different blogs are ridiculous and unbecoming of what idealize an Alpha Man. If we are to fix anything together we must begin with first loving ourselves then wanting for our brother what we want for ourselve. Onward and Upward.

  10. RUKiddingME? Reply

    April 30, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    The true coward here is the author. If there is a problem within the fraternity, that is where the should be addressed- within the fraternity. Period. While the author argues the leadership is out of order, Parks is certainly more out order. It is a small person who seizes on an opportunity to “lessen” the reputation of the fraternity in public during a time of vulnerability. I think Parks should ask himself a few questions- “How does publishing his public statement advance the fraternity?;” “How does publishing this vitriol remember the seven?” In the end, Park’s statement says a lot more about the author and his own commitment to the fraternity than anyone else.

  11. Bryan Gillin Reply

    April 26, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    I am an Alpha (Tau Alpha Chapter-Baylor University) and this situation is unfortunate. I’m not surprised, but it is unfortunate. As far as concerns about the debacle being kept in House, I’d ask that we remember that privacy in the age of the satellite, GPS, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, cell phones, iPads, tablets, etc is a relic of a time gone by. Much of life is lived online and the publication of scandal is near certainty unless you can control anyone with an opinion and an internet connection. Instead of focusing on keeping things a secret (I’m an Alpha and I’m just hearing about this today so somebody did a pretty good job of staying quiet, or maybe I just saw it coming. Eh…) I believe we ought to hold individuals accountable for their actions and demand integrity. In 2012 our civic and fraternal organizations cannot be and will not be judged by how few bad headlines contain our name. Instead, we will be defined by the type of response that we give when there is one and the philosophy of character it endorses. Good day.

  12. M.W. George Reply

    April 25, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    As a member of a Greek Organization, DST; I find it very hard to understand why this is being put out to the public. Those who are not members of a Greek Organization do not understand the semantics of what our organizations entail as a whole. There is certain protocol and I truly believe that this should have been issued to the National Pan-Hellenic Council and not the general public.

    I do know Skip Mason as a former writer and have supported his writings; especially, the Entertainment Series; however, I am truly surprised to have read some of the private details written in the above statement. I truly wish that this can all be worked out in the confinements of the organization and not via blogs, etc. because this will reflect on the organization’s name when those outside of the Greek World Entity read the sadly written possible turn of events.

    May God help your organization through this trying time.

    MWG

  13. Brandon A. A. J. Davis Reply

    April 25, 2012 at 3:27 am

    I’m a brother of Alpha, and nothing is more dear to my heart than the values of our organization. To stand for right is a cause worthy of humility, and integrity, we as brothers are called to a deeper tie to each other not our individual cause. James Cooper wrote: “all greatness of character is dependent on individuality. The man who has no other existence than that which he partakes in common with all around him, will never have any other than an existence of mediocrity.” Do NOT take aim at someone in a manner that will cause embarrassment on the entire organization. When people read this true or not, its not Gregory Parks that people will talk about its Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. I boldly ask that you take this unsolicited information down and cease from further purging our fraternity from the light and status that it has earned through being a source of inspiration by which we are known to exemplify…MANLY DEEDS, SCHOLARSHIP, AND LOVE FOR ALL MANKIND.”

  14. Herb Watson Reply

    April 23, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    As a brother of 54+ years in Alphadom, I am deeply saddened to read on the internet that which should be kept inside the house of Alpha. Even though I, too, am wary about our national office and the current leadership’s faux pas!

  15. mnyama Reply

    April 23, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    WOW…. Seems everyone is trying to get the big “come up” but often at others’ expense ….

  16. Damon Davis Reply

    April 18, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    You know what saddens me to no end? That Brothers don’t recognize the importance of keeping Alpha business within the House of Alpha. There is a reason that fraternity business is handled in secure forums, not on the internet. The password, the Grip- those things are just antiquated cliches to Brothers these days, huh?

    • Myron Devere White Reply

      April 22, 2012 at 9:25 pm

      I agree, Bro. Davis…
      Putting all of this in the streets is ‘not good’…
      Some of it was warranted, given Skip’s attitude, however.
      Always Fraternally,
      MDW ’06

  17. Talim Lessane Reply

    April 18, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    As an Alpha man of over 20 years, this saddens me to no end…and yet I find it less than surprising. I have always cast a wary eye toward the national organization even as the principles and brotherhood to which I committed myself bolstered the quality of my daily life. One can only hope that a remedial course of action will be put in effect to “right the ship” … after all, “I is for Integrity.”

    • Brother Tommie Lee Reply

      August 16, 2012 at 8:17 am

      Its sounds to me, somebody trying to profit off of somebody else’s troubles. A real Alpha man wouldn’t publicist an accusation without naming sources. I blame you for coming to national convention and regional conventions mumbling accusations under your breath and not confronting the issues head on. Shame on YOU! Mr. Parks

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