Cromwell: Black Greek organizations disconnected from founding principles


    National consultant and speaker Rasheed Ali Cromwell, Esq. spoke Wednesday on changing values of Greek organizations in the Miseducation of the Black Greek XPERIENCE, challenging Greek organizations to examine their original values.

    Cromwell, an alumnus of historically-black university North Carolina A&T and the historically-black Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, said there’s been a disconnection between Greek organizations and the values that they were founded upon, such as networking, service and leadership.

    “In the Greek community, popularity and leadership are two different things,” Cromwell said. “Instead of looking for the president of the United States, we’re looking for the Chris Browns.”

    In his speech, Cromwell used stepping and strolling as an example of a stereotypical tradition of black Greek organizations.

    “When they started, these organizations had a very different purpose than what many students are used to seeing today,” Cromwell said. “Scholarship, brotherhood, sisterhood, community service. That’s why Greek life was started.”

    Cromwell compared four civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to three political leaders today, including President Barack Obama, to show how the focus of Greek recruitment has changed over time.

    Cromwell talked about the paradox shift of pop-culture clashing with the traditions of Greek organizations and the five categories of “Greekdom,” which he defined as social, professional, religious, honorary and service.

    Cromwell ended his speech by challenging the 17 Greek organizations in attendance to re-evaluate their traditions and discover where they strayed from their founding principles.

    “One thing I see is a desire to be more unified, a lot of times it’s just not knowing how to do that,” Cromwell said. “The education process helps bridge that gap and allow groups to work together and be more tolerant and understanding.”

    Cromwell co-teaches a black Greek leadership class at Ohio State University and teaches a fraternal leadership and values series at Howard University in Washington, D.C.