Alphas attend dedication

Published 11:16 pm Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ernest Claud Jr. of Capron, left, and Justin Oliver of Suffolk stand in front of a 30-foot sculpture of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. prior to what was to have been the dedication of his memorial in Washington, D.C. recently.

Two members of local Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity headed to Washington, D.C., recently for what was to have been the grand dedication of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Ernest Claud Jr. of Capron and Justin M. Oliver of Suffolk joined thousands attending a private dedication sponsored by the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, despite the cancellation of a public dedication because of Hurricane Irene.

A civil rights leader assassinated in 1968 in Memphis, Tenn., King was a 1952 initiate of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African-Americans. In 1983, five members of this fraternity came up with the idea to honor King.

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Several years and nearly $120 million later, this idea blossomed into a monument on the National Mall.

Claud, a 50-year member of the fraternity, and Oliver, a 20-year member, watched as Elder Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King, and her brother, Martin King III, also an Alpha, accepted the memorial on behalf of their family.

Others attending included numerous members of the King family, the Hon. Andrew Young, the Rev. Al Sharpton, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and celebrities Hill Harper, Cuba Gooding Jr., Clifton Davis, Terrence Howard, Kenny Lattimore, Roland Martin and Della Reese.