Fraternity of Martin Luther King Jr. to boycott Arizona


In response to the anti-immigrant Arizona law, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, known as the oldest, integrated and historically black Greek-lettered organization in the world, recently announced it will boycott the state and relocate its 104th anniversary convention from Phoenix.

The fraternity said it plans to boycott Arizona due to the draconian anti-immigrant law signed by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer last month. Critics say the law criminalizes immigrants, violates civil liberties and encourages the racial profiling of Latinos.

"Our national board of directors voted unanimously to rescind the location of Phoenix, Ariz., as our meeting location, and to denounce the egregious immigration act signed recently by the governor of Arizona," said Herman "Skip" Mason Jr., national general president of the fraternity in a statement.

"It was the full opinion of the board that we would not host a meeting in a state that has sanctioned a law which we believe will lead to racial profiling and discrimination, and a law that could put the civil rights and the very dignity or our members at risk during their stay in Phoenix, Ariz.," said Mason.

The convention was scheduled to take place in July and will now be moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. Organizers say the fraternity's special summit on the African American Male, was expected to attract up to 10,000 Arizona visitors. It would have added hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue to Phoenix's economy, they add.

Alpha Phi Alpha was formed in 1906 at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY and is viewed as one of the most influential groups in the country. Notable civil rights leaders in its membership include U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young. Others are McDonald's President Don Thompson; National Urban League President and former New Orleans Mayor Marc H. Morial; CNN Political Analyst Roland Martin; White House Deputy Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Michael Blake; and several high-ranking members of Congress.

The late civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall were also members of the organization. Many of the fraternity's members held key posts during presidential administrations dating back to Ronald Reagan. Several continue to serve under President Barack Obama.

"Our late brother the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther king Jr. said, in a letter he wrote while sitting in the Birmingham Jail, 'injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,'" said Mason. "Alpha Phi Alpha's decision to boycott Arizona continues that same fight, fought during the Civil Rights era."

Mason continued, "We will not only speak with our voices and our feet, we will speak with our economic clout. And we will not spend our money in Arizona and urge other organizations and people who believe in equality under the law, to do the same."

Supporters of the fraternity's decision to boycott Arizona say the move highlights Black-Latino unity and is an affirmation of broad African American solidarity for undocumented workers and immigration reform.

The fraternity has long stood at the forefront of the African American community's fight for civil rights. Through its college and alumni chapters, the organization serves the community through its more than 600 chapters in the U.S., Europe and the Caribbean.

Photo: Herman "Skip" Mason Jr., left,  celebrates the nomination of Barack Obama in 2008 at Denver's Invesco Stadium. (Teresa Albano/PW)

Post your comment

Comments are moderated. See guidelines here.


  • Beatle John Lennon would be in trouble in Arizona if he were alive and trying to play a concert there. John Lennon was classified as an illegal alien by the USA and had immigration troubles in NY all the time where he lived. Well, Arizona is no New York, if you don't have a recognized ID acceptable to an interrogating low brow Arizona cop, he would arrest you now and then it's deportation back to England from there.

    And all the British music people would be checked now in Arizona too, so Paul, George(if alive), and Ringo may have their paperwork right but are their IDs correct? Maybe, maybe not though and let's check in to it though under the new SB1070 law giving police a must do immigration check because some Arizonians actually hate Beatles music and would make trouble for them on that issue alone! Are you with me? A policeman must must do an investigation on ex-Beatles immigration status whether the cops wants to or not because simply the Beatles talk with a funny accent and under the new law that would be the only suspicion needed to warrant their ID frisk.

    And British singer Sting is on the frisk list if he's spotted because not everyone is a Sting fan in Arizona, although I think the Beatles Sting are great, Arizonians on a whole prefer honky-tonk and country music. To continue our witch hunt we wouldn't want Sir Elton John not to have his day with his hands up against the wall until he proves that he's in Arizona legally. Elton is more than likely to be detained too by an Arizona cop because he's a frequent act in nearby Las Vegas. I imagine that he's wanted to see the Grand Canyon while in Las Vegas but now Elton has to do any visiting under cloak. a non-Elton John music listener could see Elton visiting Arizona, then what? More than likely an Arizonian, perhaps Governor Jan Brewer herself will force Elton John to be frisked at the Grand Canyon by a cop who must do that or be sued by onlookers for not performing his civic duty according to SB1070.

    The list is long of how many music acts out of fear will now will cancel performing in Arizona due to the possible annoyance of being frisked again and again because Governor Jan Brewer has said SB1070 is not about racial profiling. So all British entertainers will automatically fall suspect to being illegal aliens along with all Japanese visitors, African visitors, etc. etc. everyone must be ready for a called cop to check them out in public because a concerned citizen has placed a call and now we must abide by that callers demand even the police or the city will be sued. John Lennon caused all this trouble in a sense, an Arizona sense.

    Now how come all the other states aren't rushing to also have a cool law like Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's SB1070 law is my only question?

    Posted by Beatle Mania, 05/11/2010 3:42pm (6 years ago)

  • Boycott all you want, but when you're done playing boycott don't expect the rest of us to stop. Anti-American pro-criminal sentiments aren't ever forgotten by bitter Americans (ask Exxon or Jane Fonda). Your attempt to demonize the good CITIZENS of Arizona is laughable after you realize they're only enforcing the same federal laws that apply to us did read the law riiiiiiiight?

    Oh, what am I thinking, of course you didn't, if you had you wouldn't be insulting the civil rights movement by equating the plight of people coming here ILLEGALLY to people that were discriminated and treated unfairly.

    Yes indeed, LETS PLAT BOYCOTT!

    BTW: It's nice to see you muster up some righteous indignation for Arizona, but if you really cared you'd have been complaining about this law well before the Harper Valley PTA started shaking their hypocrite fingers at Arizona. EPIC FAIL YAWL!

    Posted by AreYouHighOrWhat, 05/11/2010 3:10pm (6 years ago)

  • This is an act of true solidarity! African Americans and Latinos must continue to support one another in the struggle against racism and right wing extremism!

    I commend the fraternity, it's leadership and it's members!

    Posted by Pancho Valdez, 05/11/2010 11:55am (6 years ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments