The Delta Sigma Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. will celebrate the fraternity’s 113th Founders Day at 7:06 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, at Barraque Baptist Church, 1800 W. Pullen St. The local chapter’s 71st anniversary will also be observed.
This year’s program will recognize James Word as the Brother of the Year and the guest speaker will be Solomon Graves, the Arkansas district director for Alpha Phi Alpha, according to a news release.
Word was initiated into the fraternity in 2013. He is the immediate past president and the current sergeant-at-arms. He is a graduate of Pine Bluff High School and obtained his Bachelor of Arts in political science and history from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and his Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.
Word is a licensed clinical social worker for the state of Arkansas and has been employed by the Area of Agency on Aging of Southeast Arkansas for 42 years. He is currently the housing director and has also served as interim executive director of the agency. He serves on the board of trustees at New St. Hurricane Missionary Baptist Church and is a member of the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Housing Board, Jefferson County Fair Board, Prince Hall Grand Lodge, F&A.M.
He has been married to Shirley Word for 38 years and is the father of two daughters, Shatoria and Alishia.
The speaker, Graves, has 15 years of experience in the field of audit corrections. He was named chief of staff for the Department of Correction in July 2019. He is responsible for supporting the leadership of the department while having direct responsibility for government affairs, policy development and research and planning, according to the news release.
Graves graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice in 2005 and from Webster University with a Master of Public Administration degree in 2010. He became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha in 2002 and served in leadership roles on the district, regional, and national levels.
Graves is married to the former Shana Woodard of Osceola, and she is an attorney employed by USAble Life. They have one son, Sebastian, and reside in Little Rock.
Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek Letter Fraternity established for African-Americans, was founded at Cornell University at Ithaca, N.Y., in 1906.
The Delta Sigma Lambda Chapter was established on Dec. 11, 1948, in the biology building of AM&N College (now UAPB) by L.H. Williams, the regional director, and following charter members: Chester E. Hynes, Kenneth Johnson, Charles L. Shepard, Robert W. Gray Jr., Burgess B. Lawson, Carl L. Marshall, Sammie J. Banks, Bismarck S. Williams, Tyrone Greene, Willie Hill, Harold H. Phippas Jr., John McLinn Ross and Ray F. Russell.
The national organization is now international with more than 185,000 members and has included such prominent members as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Andrew Young, and Adam Clayton Powell. The fraternity’s mission is to develop leaders, promote brotherhood and academic excellence while providing service and advocacy for the community, according to the release.