The 67th Eastern Regional Convention of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. was recently held in Richmond, Virginia. On Saturday, April 10th, during Brother Adrian L. Wallaces Report of the General President, he asked the assembly the very pointed question, If you were arrested for being an Alpha, would there be sufficient evidence to convict? A few hours after Brother General President Wallace asked that thought provoking question, during the conventions legislative session a majority of Brothers voted to put the case on the court of opinions stet docket to indefinitely postpone the trial.
In March I attended in Detroit the international conference of The Association For The Study Of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC). ASCAC was founded by leading scholars such as Brother Dr. Jacob H. Carruthers and other scholars such as Dr. John Henrik Clarke (Ancestor) and Drs. ben-Jochannan, Hilliard, Jeffries and Karenga. A featured speaker at the conference was Dr. Mostafa Hefny, who was born in Egypt and is a naturalized American citizen living in Detroit. I had learned about Dr. Hefny from Dr. Asa G. Hilliard, III last summer when I was in Egypt.
On October 2, 1987, following thirteen years of employment, Dr. Hefnys employer, The Wayne County Intermediate School District (Detroit schools), wrote him a letter stating, ... a white person is a person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, North Africa or the Middle East. Since you come from Egypt (a North African and Middle Eastern country) you are white, not black. You are directed to change your classification on the Race/Ethnic Identification Card. Be advised that failure to do so will have serious repercussions for your career, and will constitute insubordination, which may result in suspension and discharge. The letter was signed by the Director, Human Resources.
In response Dr. Hefny has stated,I am a naturalized American citizen of African ancestry (Nubian). My hair is kinky. My physical characteristics are clearly African. My complexion is as dark as that of most African Americans and I have never perceived, defined or classified myself as a white man. ... I am a black man at five levels, the biological, social, psychological, political and ideological levels. I want to reconcile my strong black identity with my classification. Research shows that humanity originated in Africa. Research shows that the black race is the oldest race and that the white race is the youngest. Research shows that all races have evolved from the black race through mutation, gene flow, genetic drift and recombination. Research shows that civilization originated in Africa. Research shows that the knowledge of the ancient Africans of Egypt has influenced and has provided the foundation for all subsequent human knowledge. As a black man and as an African, I am proud of this heritage. My classification as a white man takes away my black pride and my black heritage.
Because Dr. Hefny had the courage to stand for principle, he suffered loss of employment and took legal action against his employer. The employers shield was the Government of The United States of America. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Directive 15 states that because Dr. Hefny - a Nubian Egyptian - was born in Egypt he is white not black. Dr. Hefny is now petitioning the Congress and also taking legal action against The United States Government. This issue appeared to me to be so clear cut that I prepared the following resolution for The Committee On Recommendations and Resolutions and also a statement for The Committee On Public Policy. My expectation was that The Eastern Region Convention of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. would approve both.
RESOLUTION: The Nubian people of Egypt and Sudan should be classified as Black by the United States Government.
WHEREAS, various regulations of the federal government, including the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directive No. 15 and regulations of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), define Blacks as having origins with the Black racial groups of Africa and Whites as having origins with original peoples of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, including Egypt.
WHEREAS, Mostafa Hefny, Ph.D., a Nubian from Egypt who is a naturalized American citizen, was directed by his employer - Wayne County, Michigan, Intermediate School District - to classify himself as White not Black or face charges of insubordination.
WHEREAS, following adverse action against him by his employer for his ongoing insistence that the Nubian people are Black, Dr. Hefny filed a law suit in Detroit to get the federal government to change his racial classification from White to Black.
WHEREAS, Nubians developed a civilization in the Nile Valley of Africa thousands of years before Europeans developed a civilization and to now classify Nubians as White is for the purpose of promoting the ideology of White supremacy.
WHEREAS, several ancient African civilizations and advanced cultures, including the Nubian culture, were developed by Black people and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. has a responsibility to assist in the process of reconciling African contributions with world history.
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Eastern Region Convention meeting April 8-11, 1999 in Richmond, Virginia supports the efforts of Dr. Mostafa Hefny in his petition to the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to have Nubians classified as Blacks instead of Whites in various regulations of the federal government, including OMB Directive No. 15 and EEOC. We also petition the President of the United States to have the Department of Justice work out a settlement in which Dr. Mostafah Hefny would be declared a Black man and an African American.
Submitted this 9th day of April, 1999, by Brother Kenneth M. Jennings, Jr. of Kappa Phi Lambda Chapter in Columbia, Maryland.
The Committee On Public Policy submission stated:
The Eastern Region recommends the General Organization to petition the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate to reclassify Nubian people as Black instead of White in various federal regulations, particularly Office of Management and Budget Directive No. 15. Second, that the U.S. Department of Justice be petitioned to classify Nubian Egyptians naturalized in the United States, as Black and African American.
At the conventions legislative session late Saturday afternoon, the Chairman, Recommendations and Resolutions Committee recommended approval of a resolution commending the Metropolitan Richmond Chapters for their efforts in organizing and hosting the convention and it passed without dissent. He then presented, without recommendation, my resolution concerning the United States Government policy that makes Black people White. Immediately, a former Eastern Region Vice President moved to reject the resolution because there wasnt enough information on which to take action. As I tried to get the Presiding Officers recognition to speak on the issue, he instead recognized another Brother who moved to table the issue, thereby preventing any discussion or debate. The Brothers assembled voted to table the resolution. But there was one more opportunity.
A few minutes later the Chairman, Public Policy Committee came into the room and was called forward to present his report. When he reached the portion in which the Public Policy Committee recommended approval of the resolution I had submitted to it, a Brother gained recognition by the presiding officer and stated that the public policy item should be moot because of the earlier tabling of the resolution. Several Brothers indicated they wanted to discuss the matter but the Chairman, Public Policy Committee struck the item from his report and then moved that his report be adopted. A significant majority of Brothers voted to approve the emasculated Public Policy Statement. The court quickly adjourned and the defendants walked free to the hospitality rooms.
The biography of Jewel Brother Dr. Henry Arthur Callis clearly reflects the Afrocentric roots of Alpha and in it Brother Roscoe C. Giles is quoted as calling upon Alpha men to ... arouse the sleeping giant, Ethiopia. The passage goes on to state that, This appeal with its reference to Ethiopia was welcomed by General President Callis, for it was also one of his goals, for he and Giles had shared in those beliefs across the years of their associations, (Henry Arthur Callis: Life and Legacy, p. 75). You should understand that the ancient references to Ethiopia are to all of the Black people of Africa, including the Nubians of the Nile Valley. In 1999 it is distressing that Alpha men would fail to understand the importance of the issue highlighted by Dr. Hefnys case to African Americans, other African peoples in the Diaspora and continental African peoples and then act upon that understanding.
From my perspective, Alphas avoidance of action on the Dr. Hefny case has answered the question raised by Brother General President Wallace.