By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
The inaugural Grown and Greek Weekend took place in Birmingham August 23-26 with more than 1,000 members of Black Greek Lettered Organizations (BGLOs) networking and looking at ways to provide community service.
Grown and Greek was founded by Phaith “DJ Chocolate” Frazier, an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, who began the initiative last year with Grown and Greek TV to highlight post graduate or alumni members of the Divine Nine.
“It is an initiative to connect, share and empower the Grown and Greek experience,” she said. “For the past year, we have traveled the country seeking out stories to tell about members of Greek organizations who are doing phenomenal things in the community and it sparked an idea to celebrate what we do.”
The weekend-long event kicked off with a Community Forward Luncheon on Thursday afternoon and a Greek Game Night fundraiser at the Dannon Project. Other events for the weekend included an All Black Affair at Jazzy’s on Friday night; Greeks in the City Family Day at the Negro Southern League Museum Saturday afternoon and an Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Alumni Mixer at Legends and a #Divine9 Sunday in which members of BGLOs were encouraged to worship together or visit a church where the pastor is a member of a BGLO.
Ronda Robinson-McKenzie, a former Fox6 News anchor and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., was the moderator for Thursday’s luncheon and attended the Family Day at the Negro Southern League Museum with her daughter on Saturday.
“I think it’s a good thing, one for us to gather and meet people and get to know each other and . . . network and talk about some of the great things we’re all doing in the community that we may not know about,” Robinson-McKenzie said, “we all do great things but many times people don’t know about it so it’s nice to meet and greet and network a little bit and share some of the projects we’re doing.”
Ladara Lee, a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. said she heard about the weekend through social media.
“I saw it on my Facebook and Instagram timeline and it was something that was not traditional, it wasn’t a picnic it was something more city based and more cultural so as an alumni, I wanted to come because as you get older that’s when networking gets more important . . . it gives you the opportunity to network with other Greeks and have a good time with those from the area and those who are not from the area,” she said.
Frazier intends to take the weekend event national.
“With the web series we’ve already been to Los Angeles, New York, Tennessee, Florida and out of the country to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic,” she said. “We’re going to Dallas this fall, we’re planning an HBCU Tailgate Tour so we plan to take this to other cities and have a footprint with the Grown and Greek Weekend.”
It was important to bring together alumni members because they do not have as much interaction as collegiate members of the Divine Nine, Frazier said.
“First of all, you vowed to be active the rest of your life and sometimes that gets lost with becoming an adult, but there is still room for service and we thought by sparking a flame it would help people to remember why they did it in the first place,” she said. “ It’s been really cool to see people get inspired again and just participating in Grown and Greek Weekend of activities to say ‘I need to get active again,’ if they haven’t been.
“Hopefully it sparks a flame to do more. It’s cool to do stuff with your sorority or fraternity but it is even more powerful and I think there is greater strength in numbers when you unify everyone,” she said.
BGLOs consists of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.; Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.; Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.; Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.; and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. These organizations are known as the Divine Nine collectively and are governed by the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), Inc.
Grown and Greek can be found on social media at grownandgreektv and on their website at www.grownandgreektv.com.
4th Avenue Jazz Festival
The Greek affair was part of a busy week in Birmingham as the 4th Avenue Jazz Festival was held in downtown on Saturday.
The first Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Festival just 15 years ago. The one day festival has become a tradition and a popular summer event in the City of Birmingham.
The festival began in 2003 but skipped a year and means the event Saturday was the 14th annual in downtown Birmingham.
The 4th Avenue Business District is one of the few remaining black business districts that remain intact in Alabama and the southeastern United States. The district covers 18th Street North to 15th Avenue North, Abraham Woods Boulevard to 2nd Avenue North.
This year’s headliner was the World Famous GoGo Brass Funk Band, The Brass-A-Holics, from New Orleans. Atlanta’s Dee Lucas and Birmingham’s Daniel “Jose” Carr returned to the main stage along with fellow Birmingham musical stars Vann Burchfield, Dee Harper, and The Tragic City Band.