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Stomp the Yard Celebrates the Black Greek Tradition of Stepping
The new Sony Pictures movie “Stomp the Yard” is scheduled to be released in January 2007, just a few weeks after a monumental celebration for all Black Greeks. The Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. will be 100 years old on December 3, 2006. The significance of this date affects the film because it is a sign of the tremendous influence that the organization has on African American culture.
A college performance is a part of everyday African American culture. Almost all African Americans can identify with all the historically black fraternities and sororities also known as the Divine New. Each organization has its own history based on the actual lives of the founders and organizers. Each organization has its own set of colors, letters and shields. Every organization has its own traditions that can be traced back to its origins. One of the most popular traditions that all black Greeks share is the tradition of stepping.
Every organization with Greek letters followed the pattern that was established by the White Greeks. Each organization had a shield, motto, rituals and regime of members. The general purpose of Greek letter organizations is for networking purposes. It was on the heels of Alpha Phi Alpha that other black Greeks took flight.
Stepping can be described as a combination of signing, dancing and rhythm. There is a military-type precision in the step routines performed by each organization. The history of stepping comes from many sources, but one trend is true. The black fraternities started with singing and added the elements of dancing, marching and singing. The result became a popular art form that has continued to this day. Each organization has its own identity in stepping. The Alphas (Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Inc.) can be expected to use precision steps using common movements associated with Egyptian themes. The AKA (Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Inc.) use steps that promote their beauty. Kappas (Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, Inc.) commonly use canes to walk and turn with precision. The Deltas (Delta Sigma Theta sorority, Inc.) emphasize their strength and character. The Omega (fraternity Omega Psi Phi, Inc.) often use rhythmic hops that correspond equally to their songs and calls. The Zetas (Zeta Phi Beta sorority, Inc.) stands for most beautiful woman. Sigmas (Phi Beta Sigma, Inc. fraternity) use extremely lively movements to demonstrate dexterity and precision. Sigma Gamma Rhos (Sigma Gamma Rho sorority, Inc.) can be seen wearing canes with a traditional step. Iotas have a signature walk that shows their spirit. All the organizations that participate in the step show a high level of energy and pride as they pay tribute to their organization and traditions.
The central premise of “Stomp the Yard” is based on the tradition of stepping. Without passing, the film would be just another drama about a dance competition. I hope that the film pays homage not only to the tradition of the step, but also to the organizations that participate in the tradition. Happy 100th Alpha Phi Alpha! The impact that the organization made on African American culture through the step should be expanded with the release of the film in January 2006.
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