Phi Beta Sigma, Fraternity, Inc., one of the country’s largest African American men’s organizations and community service groups, announced its commitment to galvanize its membership of over 150,000 men and 750 chapters to call for a day of solidarity among its membership and across the nation in honor of one of its members. In addition, the group has pledged to step up its efforts against racial intolerance.
To honor Phi Beta Sigma member, the Reverend Daniel L. Simmons, Sr., who was killed in the Emmanuel AME Church shootings in the Charleston, South Carolina church shooting, the community service organization has amped up its efforts to forge ahead with issues related to its “I Am My Brother’s Keeper” 10-Point Agenda launched one year ago during its Centennial celebration.
The Rev. Daniel L. Simmons, Sr., 74, lost his life along with eight other members of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. They were shot and killed in what has been labeled a hate crime. The group of six women and three men had come together for their weekly Bible Study meeting. The man who is suspected of killing them is now in police custody.
The other victims are: The Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41, a state senator and the senior pastor of Emanuel; Cynthia Hurd, 54; The Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, a pastor at Emanuel; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Ethel Lance, 70; Susie Jackson, 87; Depayne Middleton Doctor, 49; and, Myra Thompson, 59. Simmons survived the initial attack but then died in a hospital operating room. He had previously been a pastor at another church in the Charleston area.
“Our heavy hearts and prayers go out to the families of the Mother Emanuel 9, the victims of this tragedy, their families and the entire Charleston community,” said Jonathan A. Mason, Sr., the fraternity’s International President. “This untimely and unexplainable tragedy has compelled us to redouble our charge to do even more than what we have already done on behalf of the initiative, ‘I Am My Brother’s Keeper’”. Mason added, “Furthermore, our members will come together and honor our fraternal brother, Rev. Simmons and the other victims on June 30th, when we all will wear black arm bands as a show of solidarity and to kick-off our racial tolerance initiative.”
With racial tolerance as its centerpiece, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity’s initiatives will include:
1) Standing with civil rights organizations to support legislation to have the Confederate flag removed from the grounds of the South Carolina State House
2) Encouraging that its 750 chapters host sessions on racial tolerance through local workshops at its Sigma Beta Clubs around the country for young men ages 8-17
3) Continuing its efforts to repeal the Gun Show Loophole Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986
The Phi Beta Sigma National Day of Solidarity will take place June 30th, the day of Simmons’ funeral which will be held at Emanuel AME Church.
Since launching last year, some of the successes of Phi Beta Sigma’s “I Am My Brother’s Keeper” have included adopting 126 schools throughout the United States to encourage building student literacy to help close the academic and achievement gap and raising more than $750,000 for scholarships for men of color. For more information on the “I Am My Brothers’ Keeper” initiative, visit phibetasigma1014.or