Herman “Skip” Mason, Jr., the 33rd General President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. came to visit the ‘hollow grounds and dear old walls’ of Virginia Union University on Thursday, October 6, 2011. He has begun a tour of college campuses to fellowship with his fellow Alpha brothers as he comes to the end of his term as General President.
Prior to visiting Virginia Union, General President Mason was the key note speaker at the luncheon of the 96th Annual ASALH National Convention at the Richmond Marriot earlier in the day. His speech was entitled “The MLK, Jr. Monument: Struggle and Triumph.” He spoke on the making of the MLK Memorial that was unveiled in August, which was raised on the National Mall in August 2011 under Mason’s tenure as president.
After the luncheon at the Marriot, Alpha brothers escorted General President Mason to the campus grounds of Virginia Union University. Herman Mason applauded Virginia Union’s deep roots of legacy and history. Virginia Union is the alma mater to one of the founding Jewels of Alpha Phi Alpha: Eugene Kinckle Jones. Jones also founded the Gamma chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha at Virginia Union on December 30, 1907.
“As I countdown to my last 14 months in office, [I will] visit brothers and college campuses,” Mason said. “There is no more historic campus than Virginia Union.” Virginia Union was founded in 1865, and humbly began with freed slaves attending classes at Lumpkin’s Jail. Now it is home to some of the greatest achievers and leaders in medicine, ministry, politics, armed forces and more. Mason is no stranger to Virginia Union University, as he was the key note speaker of the Gamma chapter’s centennial celebration in 2007.
“We’re really excited about the fact that Brother Mason has been a major supporter of the Gamma chapter located here on the campus of Virginia Union University,” said Darryl Coker, Xi Delta Lambda graduate advisor for the Gamma chapter and Virginia Union alumnus. Coker said that Mason’s love for history drew him to Virginia Union and to the Gamma chapter, especially during their centennial celebration. “History is important here, history is important in Alpha, and this is a historic moment for him to be a part of”, Coker said of the centennial. “From that day on, he’s always been a supporter of this chapter on this campus.”
Michael Moore, the 2010 VUU Young Alumnus of the Year, expressed his enjoyment in organizations like Alpha Phi Alpha putting more effort into reaching out to the HBCU community. “A lot of people aren’t aware but this is a very historic campus that has produced a lot of great people,” Moore said. “It’s good to see that even on the national level of Alpha Phi Alpha, that they recognize the importance of this historic university.”
It was thanks to the social media network Twitter that Skip Mason found his way to Virginia Union. The Gamma chapter reached out to their General President on Twitter when they found out that he was coming to Richmond for the ASALH National Convention. “It was a blessing that social media worked out the way it did,” says James Fernandez, Gamma chapter president. “We’ve been in communication with him once on Twitter, but we didn’t expect this day to happen where we would be giving the General President a tour of our historic campus.”
It was indeed a pleasant surprise for the campus of Virginia Union to serve as host to Herman “Skip” Mason during its Homecoming celebration, and his visit is highlighted with more pictures below. All pictures courtesy of Victor Harper: