What is Pledging?

Whenever there is an assembly of Fraternities and those who are not in these organizations, one question in particular often arises: "What is the purpose of fraternities?" In most cases, the answer given is some "book-related" or recruitment-related answer referring to community service and things of the like. But what is the real reason? Why did the Illustrious Founders of our organizations use the names and elements that they did? Why Pledge?

During the turn of the century, times were extremely difficult for Blacks in America. One organization in particular that was working to improve the condition of life for those individuals was an order known as Free and Accepted Masons. While striving towards the upliftment of the quality of life for Blacks, this organization was somewhat limited in what it could do because of the requirements for membership. Only males who had reached the age of 21 and had proven themselves to be of good character were allowed to apply for membership, which meant that mostly blue collar workers could be Masons. However, our founders (ALL organizations) had visions as to how to create a shortcut, or place a stepping stone if you would, for the Masonic fraternity.

Born on college campuses, the fraternities were designed to attract the more formally educated Black man into the plan of "salvation." Each of the four Black Greek-lettered organizations were founded by at least one man who was a member of the order of Freemasons. Because they were blessed with the ability to organize, they laid out the designs that would attract potential members into their organizations and give them just enough "light" to be beneficial to the fraternity, but little enough to generate a craving for more until they were ready to make that next step. If one were to examine the mottos and crests of each organization, they would notice striking similarities between each of them, rather it be elements of the shields or similarilarities in mottos. Anyone who has "traveled" some would have more insight into to these similarities.

Now, one may ask, "If they are started for the same purposes, why are they so different?" The answer is simple. People have different ways of achieving their goals. Each fraternity has its own mottos, passwords, handshakes, etc. But, just as cars are designed differently, they are all used for transportation. People are the same way. Rather one studies Physics or English, the goal is to receive a degree of some sort. Fraternities are the same way. Each of the organizations propose different methods as to how we could improve our communities, but in each, the goal is to improve the quality of life for everyone.

For those of us who are members of these organizations, we should try to dispell the bickering and disagreeing, so that no contention exists, but that noble contention, or rather, emulation, of who can best work and agree. In strength there is unity, and together there is much we can do for our people. It is time for all of us to revert back to the grand designs of our organizations, and live up to the goals of our revered founders. Together, we cannot be stopped!

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of (Mack Washington Jr.),and not of the respective organizations. There is no intent to offend, so if it occurs, I apologize!

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