Beyond This Place
African American Fraternities and Sororities have played an important role in the development of Black identity for over one hundred years. Beyond This Place is a project that seeks to validate the important past and contemporary history of Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLOs) in a never before seen collection of images. A documentary style of photography explores the depth of past organizational traditions, contemporary challenges, and future aspirations for the collection of nine historically Black Fraternities and Sororities. Below is a portion of my Masters Project/Thesis proposal.
Unlike any other Americans, people of African descent have had an ongoing cultural identity crisis. Far enough removed from their African roots to have held onto few culturally relevant rituals and customs, the people of African descent in America began the process of finding themselves. Forty-two years after Emancipation the establishment of a self-determined group of college educated Black men would create energy which yielded self-determination and a desire to prosper through the challenges of segregated America. The concept of a Black fraternity, born out of racial discrimination and isolation on college campuses, would spread throughout America with the establishment of other fraternities and sororities using the model to create organizations that were dedicated to the development of it’s members and the Black community. The resulting discourse and the people involved in these organizations would eventually help discover and define the identity of African Americans through the Black Arts, Black Power, and Civil Rights movements.
Beyond This Place exist to document the important history of BGLOs, the role these organization play in shaping the African American college experience, and the challenges faced by these organizations when facing the question “Are BGLOs still relevant today?” The project consist of two parts: the creation of a visual archive of BGLOs images from the first 100 years of existence (1906-2006) and the creation of a collection of my images documenting the BGLOs experience today.
If you have any information that would help me with my project, I would greatly appreciate an email with possible library archives or personal images you would like to submit for this work. I can be reached at Jarrad.Henderson@gmail.com