“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” President Barack Obama.
Almost four years ago, I used the above quote to emphasize that change, albeit hard at times, is not only necessary, but must come from within. When International Grand Vice-Polaris Richard Gilbert and I were elected in 2013, we were charged with the monumental task of addressing some serious issues within our organization and moving our Fraternity to even greater levels of professionalism and global relevancy … our Fraternity was ready for change. First, I would like to thank those “TRUE Iota Men,” who faithfully supported our administration over the past four years. Because of you, those who fulfilled our Oath and fraternal obligations, we were able to realize all the “Visions” we presented in 2013, changing Iota Phi Theta indeed into an even more professional and globally relevant organization. Yet, there still is much to do.
Quoting Honorable Founder John Slade:
“… the IOTA Fraternity must change to suit the times. So our mission, IOTA (if we choose to accept it), is to focus, understand and accept the fact that the IOTA fraternity is indeed a ‘purpose driven entity.’”
The Clark/Gilbert Administration has strived to stay true to our Founders’ vision of creating an organization that was relevant to our communities and a catalyst for social change. To this end, this administration has established new and novel service initiatives and collaborations to address the myriad of issues affecting our people, our communities and our diaspora, namely I-S.H.I.E.L.D. (Iotas Saving, Healing, Improving, Empowering Lives Daily) anti-abuse programs, the American Red Cross, and Delete Blood Cancer, as well as continuing to enhance our older, long-term initiatives with St. Jude and the I.O.T.A. (Intelligent, Outstanding, Talented Achievers) Youth Alliance programs. This August, our administration will leave the next, newly-elected administration not only with a solid financial foundation, but also effective, global community service initiatives and collaborations with other organizations focused on positively changing and uplifting our Fraternity and the communities we serve.
For the past 54 years, the Brotherhood of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc., born during the Civil Rights Movement, has truly been “a purpose driven entity” that has positively impacted the lives of tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of people around the world. My greatest joy during my tenure as your IGP has been in knowing that our administration has done much more in terms of service, advancing ambitious and effective projects and programs, and organizational stability, which now position our Fraternity for even greater impacts and opportunities for future, positive societal and organizational changes. After all, this was the primary reason we were founded: to serve and to serve effectively.
Again, there is still much for us to do, as individuals and as a Fraternity. I have never regretted my decision to become a “Theta Man” 37 years ago, or my service as your IGP for the past 4 years; my fraternal journey has changed me forever. Indeed, I’ll simply ‘move over’ at the end of our term and continue serving as a “TRUE Iota Man” in other capacities … helping in “Building A Tradition” of “Social Service, Professionalism and Brotherhood,” and manifesting our administration’s mantra of “One Focus, One Direction, One Fraternity.” Our Brotherhood, our IOTA Family and the people we serve expect nothing less.
Again, THANK YOU to all the “TRUE Iota Men,” who have, continue to, and will forever ‘work hard’ for the changes needed to move our beloved Fraternity forward! Remember, for our people, for our Fraternity and for ourselves, we are and have always been “ … the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
21st International Grand Polaris
Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc.