Nature of parade misunderstood

May 10, 2009

Recently, a letter writer from Millbrook expressed his "puzzlement" after reading about a "black sorority" protesting a fraternity’s celebration of Old South Day at the University of Alabama. He said that he was puzzled that the sorority would be surprised about the celebration since it was surely advertised. Well, they may not have known about it.

I was a student at UA in the mid-1980s and I remember the fraternity’s Old South Day celebration. However, I don’t recall ever seeing any advertisements about the celebration. I was aware of it, though, because there were black students protesting it even then. As a black student, I disagreed with this protest. I saw no problem with the celebration and actually found it quaint. Numerous other black students felt the same way.

I think they were more surprised that the parade paused in front of their sorority house. The street is part of Sorority Row — a great place for fraternity and sorority parades — and it paused because the house is near an intersection. I don’t think there was any racial intimidation intended.

The writer also expressed puzzlement that a sorority would be segregated this day and time. Rest assured that the sorority is not segregated. It’s called a "black sorority" since it was started by black women and the primary membership is black–but the sorority is open to all women, just as the university’s "white sororities" are.

Sheldon Jeames