2022 Fall Pledge Class Namesake Honoree

MORE ABOUT BROTHER KEENE

 

Brother Keene grew up in New York, moving at 8-years-old from Harlem to Queens. His father was a Jamaican immigrant, and his mother was from Franklin, Tennessee. He was involved in the Boy Scouts of America through Troop 75 in St. Albans, New York. After high school, Brother Keene studied at Howard University where he was active in Alpha Phi Omega, student government, intramural sports and on the H-Book staff. He was also very active in campus and community service projects. It was on the Howard campus that Keene met his wife of 56 years, Carole “Ife” Keene.

 

Brother Keene also served as a chapter faculty advisor of Zeta Phi Chapter at Howard University before he retired. His special attention to students of color, global work to advance the principles of Pan-Africanism and his tireless efforts to support Zeta Phi’s rechartering are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Keene. His dedication to Zeta Phi and Howard University included gaining more female members and encouraging inclusion and growth across the chapter. His work encouraged HBCU brothers to stand on his shoulders as the chapter grew and expanded.

 

 

Alpha Phi Omega is grateful to be able to highlight Brother Keene through this honor. He has set quite the example and offered large footprints for future members to fill. His work to serve and bring equity to the underserved is inspirational and is the basis for his challenge to the fall pledge or new member class of Alpha Phi Omega.

The Fraternity is proud to announce that Brother William “Damani” Keene, Zeta Phi ’63, has been selected as the Fall 2022 Pledge Class Namesake Honoree. Below is Brother Keene’s challenge to the fall 2022 class of pledges or new members! To view the news announcement, click here.

 

Challenge to the 2022 Fall Pledge or New Member Class

 

Fraternal Greetings!

 

It is an unexpected honor beyond description for my beloved fraternity to designate me as the namesake of the fall 2022 pledge or new member class. Amplifying that humbling honor is that my own dean of pledges at Zeta Phi Chapter at Howard University in Spring 1963 was Togo Dennis West, Jr., Zeta Phi ‘61, who was likewise honored in 2004 as was Zeta Phi’s own Brother and Past National President LTC Lucius E. Young, Zeta Phi ’48, in 1974.

 

The time-tested Cardinal Principles of Alpha Phi Omega – Leadership, Friendship and Service – serve as unfailing guideposts. I call upon all pledge or new member groups and chapters to embrace and embody them in their activities while keeping a focus on egalitarian and inclusive approaches and programs.

 

It was the distinctive focus on service that first attracted me, as a 17-year-old freshman, to our fraternity. During my undergraduate years, we were proud that Torch & Trefoil often listed Zeta Phi chapter for its achievements and service. Among our numerous service projects, brothers tutored orphans and cleaned the yard of an orphanage one block from the D.C. campus. We took a busload of those same black youngsters to the 1964 New York World’s Fair – an exhilarating and eye-opening experience for those youngsters, many of whom had never been outside their immediate neighborhood.

 

And it was a significant lesson for me because, at first, I was against spending the funds the chapter had raised in that manner. Instead, I argued that the orphanage needed dozens of blankets for the winter and big fans for the hot and humid summers. Practicality was my watchword.

 

In the end, however, I was happy and humbled that I lost that debate when I saw the delighted looks on the kids’ faces during their World’s Fair adventure. I am sure the impact on the kids of that once in a lifetime outing was positive. I learned a life-long lesson: my most thoughtfully considered analysis and position might not turn out to be the best one.

 

I challenge all fall 2022 pledges and new members of APO to create a service project that benefits an underserved group in their community. The lessons that I learned when helping plan the World’s Fair adventure are ones to keep in mind as you develop this project – never underestimate the impact you and your fellow pledges or new members can have, especially on underserved groups!

 

Zeta Phi Chapter became the largest Greek-letter organization on Howard’s campus, and I served as its president my senior year. After graduating in 1966, completing military service, teaching Black History at a federal prison, and attending graduate school at Cornell University, where I led anti-Apartheid protests, I returned to Howard University to work in student affairs – to pay it forward.

 

During my 32-year career at Howard in several positions, including dean for residence life, I was advisor to interest groups seeking to re-charter Zeta Phi Chapter, which had – despite its historic and illustrious greatness – become inactive. I am proud to say that one of those rechartering groups included my oldest son Khalid and my nephew Eric Jackson, who became my fraternity brothers.

 

Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity is invaluable, irreplaceable, and one-of-a-kind. I challenge the fall 2022 pledge or new member class to devote your leadership, energy, and talents to making a significant difference on your campus, in your community, and in the nation.

 

May we always be…

 

William “Damani” Keene

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