Kappa Alpha Psi combats negative stereotypes for black fraternities


photo courtesy of Tobias Lucas

Kappa Alpha Psi was the first black fraternity on Marshall University's campus, and the fraternity says they aim to help members become better people.

With a goal of helping young men become better individuals, the first black Greek-lettered fraternity on Marshall University’s campus paved the way for future organizations and continues to have an impact on its members and the community.

“It’s actually a big thing for us,” Tony Jernigan II, a junior pre-medical major who is vice president of Marshall’s chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., said about the fraternity’s origins.

Kappa Alpha Psi helped open the doors for other predominately black organizations, which did not have to face some of the same struggles Kappa Alpha Psi faced, Jernigan said.

“They didn’t have to face some of the struggles that [Kappa Alpha Psi members] faced to bring them on campus,” Jernigan said. “You can only imagine the things they [Kappa Alpha Psi members] had to go through in order to establish the chapter, and that they were brave enough to do so, so that we could all benefit later on from the chapter being here.”

Phillip Carter, a Marshall professor of social work, was actually one of Kappa Alpha Psi’s first members, Jernigan said.

“Knowing that there would be scrutiny, but still caring enough about their neighborhood and their community to withstand that, and to withstand that struggle, it just shows how much they cared about the men around them and the women around them,” Jernigan said.

Tobias Lucas, a sophomore theater performance major who is Kappa Alpha Psi’s president, said current members of the fraternity try to overcome negative stereotypes associated with the black and African American community and combat them with their actions.

Jernigan said members try to teach other how to be gentlemen, adding that he and his brothers try to represent “what it looks like to be a black male, to be fluent and eloquent.”

In addition to helping its members become better individuals, Jernigan and Lucas said Kappa Alpha Psi participates in various community service projects.

“I remember one of the first things we did was we went to the Huntington City Mission,” Jernigan said. “We went there and did a back-to-school drive, and we basically gave kids there some books and things they need for school.”

About a month ago, Jernigan said the fraternity helped with an auction by St. Mary’s Hospital in which the proceeds benefited the Huntington City Mission.

Additionally, along with the National Panhellenic Council, Jernigan said Kappa Alpha Psi has volunteered at the A.D. Lewis Center, a community center in Huntington, in the past.

With goals in mind for Kappa Alpha Psi, Jernigan said he hopes the fraternity is “forever bringing in new members, that we are always providing mentorship and that we establish a relationship with the blacks and African Americans all across campus.”

Paige Leonard can be contacted at [email protected]