By Madison Martin | Journalist
The annual Royal and Pure Homecoming Walk has become a Baylor Homecoming tradition for black sororities and fraternities, allowing them to enter a competition and show off their teamwork and dance skills through the art of storytelling, which had been historically rooted in black Greek culture. . The event took place at the Bill Daniel Student Center, organized by Phi Beta Sigma with the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC).
Walking is a form of dance created by Africans to show unity and strength through unity. It includes practiced movements that are only performed by members within the NPHC, with each sorority and fraternity having their own unique style to represent their organization. Whether it is during homologations, walks or even on the dance floor, the space is cleared out of respect for those who have “crossed”.
This year there were four teams competing: the Tau Alpha chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, the Delta Theta chapter of Phi Beta Sigma, the Xi Chi chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Nu Iota and the Pi Omicron chapter of Zeta Phi Beta.
Sam Onilenla – Aurora, Colorado, senior and chairman of the Baylor Pan-Hellenic National Council – said the boardwalk and its importance had increased in the black community.
âThe walk is a tradition started in the early 1920s by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated,â said Onilenla. âHe is popular with Divine Nine black Greek letters organizations as well as other multicultural Greeks. Walking, like tap dancing, was meant to showcase African culture and pride at a time when black Americans faced racism and discrimination. “
The tradition came from a time when African Americans pursued higher education while being excluded from integration with existing sororities and fraternities. This led them to create their own safe spaces and develop a sense of community when they were rejected by other groups.
Forche Bridges – a senior Fresno and historian with the Pan-Hellenic National Council of Baylor – said Greek organizations offer inclusiveness while maintaining the traditions on which the council and culture were founded.
âAll of our Greek literary organizations and councils were founded at a time when African Americans didn’t have a lot of safe spaces,â Bridges said. âAlthough our organizations were founded to uplift our community, they are not exclusive to blacks alone. However, it is a primary platform for spreading our stories, sharing our history, and improving culture in general. ”
Alumni judges from the NPHC organizations – Dominique McShan, Geoffrey Griggs, Ramone Cooper, Toshia Jackson and De’Janae Tookes – attended the event and named the Tau Alpha chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha as the winner of this year’s ride home, with the Delta Theta chapter of Phi Beta Sigma coming in second.
The characteristic movement of Alpha Phi Alpha is called “the train”, in which one simultaneously lifts the leg and moves the arms up and down to represent the locomotion of a train. This was based on how the fellowship members moved around, which was the primary form of transportation to establish other chapters.
Zakariyya Allen – junior from Philadelphia and vice president of the Baylor National Pan-Hellenic Council – said the walk not only creates a sense of community through the dance, but also reveals distinct characteristics that each NPHC organization embodies.
âThe march has been used for decades as a way for our organizations to unite and represent each other in distinct ways,â Allen said. âThis is important because it allows the Greek members to express themselves in a cultural way. The walk unifies members of the same organization through its many chapters and creates an opportunity to bond.
This unbreakable bond is seen in the movements the Greek members make, especially when walking around, as they are taught to never break their line. This term refers to black Greek organizations forming a line on their walk to highlight the skills and uniqueness of their individual organizations. It shows how each member can rely on each other and how, through unity, they work together to show that their strength is unwavering.
âIt is important to continue this tradition because it allows the Baylor family to learn about black Greek organizations on campus and better understand what they do,â said Onilenla. âThese are things that we hold true to our specific organizations, and being able to present them to a campus that may not be as knowledgeable about it just underscores how important this is. It gives people the opportunity to learn more about the Divine Nine.