Throughout life, it seems like I’ve always chosen difficult paths. Who does that? This guy right here. My choice to join Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. was one of those difficult decisions. Not only is the fraternity the youngest of the National Pan-Hellenic Council Greek lettered fraternities and sororities, but in 2006 (when I pledged) there were no active undergraduate chapters in the state of Missouri. As a result, I had to live the fraternity motto before officially becoming a member: ‘Building a Tradition, Not Resting Upon One.’
Last year, I wrote a blog on Black History Month entitled “A Required Course” (https://prosperityconnection.org/2016/02/a-required-course/) where I discuss how Black History was a requirement in my household as a youth and even now as an adult. The intent was (and still is) to remind others that Black History stretches much further than the key individuals that many choose to focus on each and every year. We definitely should not limit their contributions to history, just like we shouldn’t limit the contributions of others.
What others? Who do you mean? I’m referring to persons like Benjamin Banneker, Charles Drew, Matthew Henson, Bessie Coleman, Mae Jemison, Wangari Maathai, Loretta Lynch, Robert (Bob) Johnson, Alex Haley, Langston Hughes, Toni Morrison, Nikki Giovanni, and so many more. Many heroes have often gone unsung. As a result, I implore you to spend more than these 28 days learning, growing from, and appreciating their great feats.
This past year, I returned to my old college stomping grounds for homecoming. It wasn’t any regular homecoming. It was the ten year anniversary of when I (along with two others) completed one journey and began another. We brought the state of Missouri back for Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. As I sat amongst fraternity brothers, I saw that even though what I started ten years prior had grown, there was still work to be done. I’ve taken the time to learn, grown from, and appreciate our success, but I know that there is much more to be done. Every future brother from this area will know about my friends and me. We are now fraternal history. As I prepared to leave and return home, my line brother called me and said “S.T.L.” S.T.L., our line name, stands for ‘Sky’s The Limit.’
For the rest of this month, you’ll see and hear about many successful people. Why can’t you be one of them? I want to take this chance to remind you that it is our responsibility to be the next wave. It is our responsibility to build a tradition and not rest upon those of our past and the pasts of others. I encourage you to become history because the sky truly is the limit. It won’t come without sacrifice, but nothing worth having does anyway. What is your history going to look like over the next five years? Do you have anything brewing? Do you have a plan? A goal? A strategy? My history says that it will be Martin, Malcolm, Mandela and Me, because I’m declaring that I will build a tradition and not rest upon one: the sky’s the limit.
Jaison K.D. McCall, Assistant Director – Education & Financial Capability