Perhaps the Black community in Miami is on the precipice of a political and cultural revolution. Perhaps this generation of millennials will usher in a resurgence of Black unity and Black power reminiscent of Miami’s past. On Sunday, November 1, 2020, the men of the Beta Beta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, executed a community caravan to bring awareness of the importance of the using the right to vote to effect change for our people and the community at large.
For this ambitious project, the fraternity partnered with Florida Memorial University, South Florida’s only HBCU. Before the fraternity members and their supporters set out on their journey, there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony that included dignitaries from the university’s Board of Trustees.
As the attention-getting caravan, with full escort, rolled into the first of four stops, the early voting site at the Miramar Branch Library & Education Center, the energy was immediately apparent. The featured speaker at that location was the honorable Wayne Messam, mayor of the City of Miramar and member of the Beta Beta Lambda Chapter. The fraternity distributed t-shirts and bottled water to early voters waiting in line.
The excitement continued at the next stops, the early voting sites at the North Dade Regional Library in Miami Gardens and the North Miami Library. The caravan concluded at the Joseph Caleb Center early voting location, in the City of Miami, with messages from community leader and past chapter president, Pierre Rutledge and current chapter president Michael Grubbs.
More than 200 people in 70 vehicles participated in the caravan. At each of the stops, hundreds of voters and onlookers were educated on “A Voteless People is a Hopeless People,” a national program of Alpha Phi Alpha since the 1930’s when many African-Americans had the right to vote but were prevented from voting because of poll taxes, threats of reprisal, and lack of education about the voting process.
“Yesterday...I looked into the eyes of children and our seniors across South Florida and saw the impact of the Beta Beta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, "Alpha Train" Road to the Polls. It offered hope and meaning to a community struggling to believe in the Democratic process within our country. We endeavored to wake up South Florida and let our name, example and action(s) lead the way,” said Taj Echoles, chair of Beta Beta Lambda’s Alphas In Action Task Force, the civic engagement arm of the chapter.
About Beta Beta Lambda Chapter (adapted from Chapter's website):
Beta Beta Lambda Chapter has been an active part of the Greater Miami community since its inception on November 19, 1937. Like many chapters across the country, it was established by men with a common interest in improving the community through education and public service.
The chapter’s founding members are Felix E. Butler, MD, Nathaniel Colston, MD, Ira P. Davis, MD, Aaron Goodwin, MD, Frederick J. Johnson, Samuel H. Johnson, MD, Leo A Lucas, and William H. Murrell, MD. Under the leadership of Solomon C. Stinson, Ph.D., the chapter was incorporated in the State of Florida as a legal entity on November 30, 1978. Under the leadership of Earl H. Duval Ph. D., the Beta Beta Lambda/Alpha Foundation was created and incorporated on September 25, 1995.
In June 2006, AlphaLand Community Development Corporation was created and incorporated under the leadership of Gregory D. Gay, Dana C. Moss, Sr. CPA, Lyonel Myrthil, and Eric Hernandez, Esq. The foundation and CDC are 501©3 not-for-profit organizations. The chapter’s executive board also serves as the Board of Directors of the foundation and the CDC has a separate board of directors with membership from the chapter.
Beta Beta Lambda Chapter and its subsidiaries are providing leadership through its many service activities such as Alpha Outreach, Project Alpha, Alpha-Dade Youth Sports Program, Alpha/Big Brothers & Big Sisters Partnership, Sankofa Project, Knights of Gold, Boy Scouts Troop 1906, Alpha/Head Start Partnership, Voter Education Project, and Scholarship Award Program.
Photos: AJ Shorter/AJShorter Photography