Preserving our history
The City Chapter was born in the vein of other student organizations during the decades of the 60's and early 70's, as socially conscious college students from northern states labored against the forces of Jim Crow segregation in former southern slave states. The Philadelphia "City Chapter" was a mixed chapter mainly comprised of undergraduate members and graduate students whom resided within city limits during the summer and winter breaks, but attended institutions of higher learning outside the state; mainly southern Jim Crow states. With first hand knowledge of the poverty which ensnared share choppers and the awareness of oppressive Black Codes, socially conscious college students gathered under the banner of the newly founded Fellowship of Groove Phi Groove, Inc to address the needs of the oppressed, impoverished and down trodden. These social conscious young men met at the University of Pennsylvania (Houston Hall), Community College, and other venues to strategize and formulate cohesive action plans which could be utilized collectively on college campuses; and with other students and collegiate organizations. The seeds from those meetings bore the fruit of voter registration drives, food banks, clothing drives and financial assistance for first and second generation college students struggling to pay tuition.
As the decade of the 60's came to a close, many of the Chapter's young activists whom graduated from college were conscripted to serve in the Vietnam War. Thus, the Fellowship of Groove Phi Groove would be called upon to meet a new challenge; reintegrating Black soldiers returning from the horrors of war. Thus, throughout the 1970's the Fellowmen of Groove Phi Groove Social Fellowship assisted young men struggling to acclimate to civilian life. In reflection of the said period Fellowman Julius Webb of the Philadelphia Graduate Chapter, and Michael Toner scripted and produce the play "Mortal Men." The play illustrated the unique challenges black men faced during the Vietnam War, the nation's struggle to implement the laws of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, while trying to honoring the service rendered by soldiers returning home from war. The play which ran at The Walnut Street Theater received critical acclaim and reviews.
In 1982, the climate of the nation changed and America began in earnest to fully facilitate equal opportunities for all its citizens. Thus, National President John East, Jr. facilitated the deactivation of the "City Chapter" and merger of its graduate students with the Graduate Chapter of Philadelphia for the purpose of serving those in need in the local community. In doing such, President John East, Jr. challenged the newly formed Philadelphia Graduate Chapter to implement team building, bonding activities, while mentoring young members initiated at varied universities located outside the Philadelphia region. Former 2nd National Vice President Stephen Conwell accepted President John East, Jr.'s challenge and established activities such as Summertime Groove (Family Picnic), voter registration drives and implemented mandatory local undergraduate attendance at Philadelphia Graduate Chapter meetings. He also enlisted students on summer break to participate in local community service projects before returning to their enrolled university or college. The newly formed Philadelphia Graduate Chapter flourished under Fellowman Conwell's enlightened leadership and creative approach to fostering fellowship amongst newly initiated collegiate Fellowmen from different states and Graduate members initiated during earlier eras. In addition to modeling via mentoring, Fellowman Conwell organized events to raise funds for high school students and collegiate students in need of educational funding. The approach and example set by Past Chapter President Conwell has been used and continues to be utilized by subsequent presidents as the Chapter continues to meet its goals and fulfill the mission of Groove Phi Groove, Social Fellowship, Inc.
The decade of the 1990's ushered in the crack-cocaine epidemic which reaped havoc urban family structure. Fellowman such as Chris Kingsberry labored for approximately ten years at the Reverend Dr. Leon Sullivan Community Center as a volunteer facilitator mentoring and teaching fourth and Fifth graders how to recognize negative peer pressure used to lure adolescents into the drug trade and addiction. In addition, throughout the 1990's the Philadelphia Graduate Chapter routinely volunteered in the feeding of the Homeless at shelters and soup kitchens, assisted in furnishing Clothing Closets and provided perishable goods to Food Banks. Moreover, understanding that the need of the community was greater than could be met by the work of existing fraternal and fellowship organizations, the Philadelphia Graduate Chapter, renewed its efforts to recruit and strengthen undergraduate chapters at Penn State, Temple University, Lincoln University, Drexel University, Cheyney University and the University of Pennsylvania, to meet the needs of the Black Community amidst an unseen historical challenge. On the eve of the organization's 30th Anniversary the Philadelphia Graduate Chapter was awarded the honor of Host for the National Conclave, where Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell joined Trenton Mayor Fellowman Doug Palmer in celebrating the national organization and the Philadelphia Graduate Chapter, Inc. for their service to community.
As the 20th Century came to a close, the Philadelphia Chapter had grown in its dedication to community service and seeing the necessity for a nonprofit organization to be tax exempt, a push was made to obtain a 501c 3 designation, which was obtained in 1999. In the first decade of the 21st Century the various members of the Philadelphia Graduate Chapter, Inc. embarked on the mission of mentoring youths. Two Fellowmen in particular Fellowman Phil Cuffey (The Zoeza Institute) and Fellowman Nasir Al-Maliki (Stop the Madness - Stop The Violence, Inc.) helped found sustaining mentoring programs utilizing a collaboration of fellowmen and community activists. "Stop The Madness - Stop The Violence Inc. is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization which strives to teach alternatives to negative behavior and violence. The goal of the organization is to provide wholesome positive activities for youth which provide an environment to encourage a sense of ethical, social, and neighborhood responsibility through community service and involvement. This is guided by three basic beliefs that:violence is preventable, peace is possible, and both are best achieved through community driven strategies that demonstrate the power of collective action."
"Inspired by the root meaning of the word “zoeza”, The Zoeza Institute aims to prepare troubled youth for successful transitions through access to knowledge and participation in meaningful, interactive learning experiences. Utilizing three foundation pillars (Educational Supplementation, Social Immersion, and Professional Preparation), the Institute executes an ambitious set of goals and deliverables under the tutelage of a nationally recognized Board of Trustees and executive staff. The mission and vision of the Zoeza Institute address the problems faced by troubled youth in dependent care living situations and their inability to transition to gainfully employed careers that support responsible, independent living."
Philadelphia Graduate Chapter, Inc.
Groove Phi Groove Social Fellowship, Inc. ~ Building a Better Tomorrow ~ One Young Man at a Time
The Philadelphia Graduate Chapter, of Groove Phi Groove Social Fellowship Incorporated is a separate entity which has been granted a Charter by the National Office of Groove Phi Groove, Social Fellowship Incorporated. Under agreement of its Charter, The Philadelphia Graduate Chapter, Inc. adheres to the principles and bylaws of the national governing body and its own bylaws outlined in the Chapter's legal corporate designation. The Philadelphia Graduate Chapter of Philadelphia, Inc. was legally incorporated in 1999. However, the chapter's origin is rooted in the 1982 Union of the former "City Chapter" of Groove Phi Groove, S.F.I. and the Graduate Chapter of Philadelphia.
Strong gentle hands are the perfect combination to help shape boys into young men and young men into responsible adults.