Guide Right and Kappa League has become a very important and essential part of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and our noble theme of “Training for Leadership.” Being a leader and a role model for our youth have become more important in today’s society than ever before. Guide Right is something that is going to be necessary for the rest of time, and Kappa continuing to publicize and promote it, is going to be needed even more. Guide Right is a program that has shown what Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc. deems important and feels is necessary to contribute to our communities.
Guide Right and Kappa League have grown over the years from it’s beginning, when this program was implemented it was to show the community the importance and dedication that Kappa was willing to put in to helping our youth achieve. The Guide Right Program has touched the lives of many youth in our communities. As a result of Guide Right, giving to our youth, Kappa can say that a lot of its current members are members because of an effective and successful Guide Right Program, which touched them in some way. Many of today’s members of Kappa Alpha Psi, were members of a Guide Right Program of some sort, in their communities or schools, and that positive effect and leadership made these young men, want to be like those that they were learning from. Essentially making them want to be the Kappa that touched the lives of the youth in the communities.
Guide Right is something that each chapter in Kappa has different programs for. Guide Right can be seen in different programs such as Kamp Kappa, Pinney Woods School, Lunch Buddies programs, Kappa Leagues, after school programs, summer programs, scholarship programs, beautillions and just spending time with a kid that needs a male figure in their life. Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc. is proud to say that we take part in all these type of programs and many more. Guide Right is something that Kappa and its brothers whole heartily support and will continue to support. Guide Right is a program for the educational and occupational guidance of youth, primarily inspirational and informational in character. Its reach extends to high schools and colleges alike. In the latter, giving due attention to the needs of undergraduate brothers.
In this writing I want to highlight the history of Guide Right and Kappa League and it’s importance to Kappa and the community. I want to document the beginning, and escalation of Guide Right all the way up until today. I want to highlight those brothers and people that are responsible for making the Guide Right program what it is today. I want to showcase accomplishments that Kappa has had with Guide Right and Kappa League. I want to broaden the minds of those who read this paper, with what Guide Right and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. mean to each other and our communities at large. I want to be able “Guide” someone in the “Right” directions with this writing.
In the infancy of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity when chapters were blossoming and flourishing throughout the United States, both individual and collective efforts were being made to incorporate meaningful programs into the various local chapter activities. The very foundation of Guide Right can be traced to the St. Louis Alumni Chapter and Leon W. Steward, who rightfully is dubbed as the “Father of the Guide Right Movement”. According to THE STORY OF KAPPA ALPHA PSI, soon after the St. Louis Alumni Chapter’s beginning in 1921, Brothers Leon W. Steward and J. Jerome Peters were assigned to study the needs of active chapters for guidance and funds and to devise a “meaningful an d practical approach” to the problem. Ultimately, Brother Steward, a Y.M.C.A. secretary, proposed a program of guidance to be designated as Guide Right, with the purpose of assisting high school seniors to choose and pursue useful careers, consistent with fraternity purpose. In 1922 this program was immediately adopted at the local level and the 12th Grand Chapter adopted Guide Right as the national service program. The focus of Guide Right, from its inception, was to provide scholarships to needy and talented students, and to inform young people in the professions and career options.
Guide Right is administrated by a National Director and a Guide Right Commission. The Guide Right Commission consists of the Director and twelve Province Guide Right Coordinators, one from each Province, appointed by their respective Province Polemarchs. The Director is uniquely qualified to perform the duties of this office and is appointed by the Grand Polemarch. He prepares such directives as are necessary for the successful and efficient observance of this national movement. He also edits and prepares the manual for the universal use of undergraduates and alumni chapters, and gives functional supervision to all other matters and practices relating to Guide Right.
The purposes of the Guide Right Service Program are to place the training experience and friendly interest of successful men at the disposal of youth needing inspiration and counsel regarding their choice of a life’s career, and to arouse the interest of the entire community in the problems of youth as they seek to realize lives of usefulness. The basic objectives of Guide Right may be summarized as follows:
- To help youth, especially those of high school graduating classes, in their selection of courses leading to vocations compatible with their aptitudes and personalities.
- To assist students, while they are in training, to get started in employment, and to progress successfully in their chosen fields.
- To assist parents in the handling of their children by giving them opportunities to talk over problems with those who know and are successful in their chosen vocations.
- To afford the less fortunate youths a respite from the drudgery of the streets, through sponsored trips to ball games, zoological gardens, museums, picnics, hikes, etc.
- To inform youth of the values of higher education, of assistance available for continued educational pursuits, scholarship, loans, professional counseling, fellowships, etc., of various occupational and professional opportunities, and of current labor demands and the trends on the:
- effect of these demands and trends on the labor market, i.e., supply rewards, etc.;
- requirements for obtaining employment, i.e., personal, scholastic, economic.
In the early days, Guide Right was usually observed during the period of one week, called Concentration Week, of each year. In 1936, however, it became a year round program, with Concentration Week serving only to highlight the year’s activities.
Guide Right was actually put into action by the St. Louis Alumni Chapter; the chapter gave its second one hundred dollar scholarship in 1923. The recipient was Turner Dickerson, a student at Springfield College. Dickerson, who was an honor student and good athlete, was so impressed with the Fraternity that he became a member several years later when attending a school where a chapter was located. St. Louis Alumni had earlier given a one hundred dollar scholarship to a high school graduate who chose the University of Iowa. When told that the scholarship placed him under no obligation to the Fraternity, as all recipients were told, he joined Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Nearly twenty years later he admitted to C. Rodger Wilson that his affiliation had been a kid’s foolish gesture to test the sincerity of the “no string” claim that Kappa made when giving him the scholarship.
By 1924 Guide Right had become a year around effort. At the outset, it had received emphasis over a selected period of seven days called “Concentration Week.” Public school educators, in particular, now appreciated the Fraternity’s sincerity of purpose in trying to provide a practical approach to vocational guidance. Although guidance had begun some years earlier, colleges and universities were just beginning to train experts in the field.
Guide Right on the Campus
Primarily, Guide Right in the Undergraduate Chapter is concerned with methods that serve to improve scholarship and campus participation. Efforts in this interest should be continuous. In the interest of attaining these objectives, an orientation program should be planned to acquaint members with:
- University services that are available to students, e.g. loans, scholarships, aptitude-testing procedures, counseling service, etc.
- Campus “low down” on courses – their “unwritten” requirements.
- Facilities available for typing, manuscript preparation, and other personal services.
- Students in various fields of study with those from whom help might be obtained if needed.
Other methods that might be used to attain these ends are:
- Preceptor type tutoring for Brothers.
- Frequent contacts with faculty advisors.
- Provide “Study review sessions.”
- Broader participation in constructive campus activities.
In 1929 the Fraternity encountered some discouraging setbacks. In that year one of the Province Councils tried to destroy the Guide Right Movement, censuring it as being useless and unnecessary. The Council declared that the movement was a modification of the “Go To High School, Go To College” program of a rival Fraternity (Alpha Phi Alpha) and so was undesirable. The Editor-in- Chief (Lionel F. Artis) of the Kappa Alpha Psi Journal berated the Council, and charged the members with colossal ignorance of the guidance movement. The development if not the beginning of the vocational guidance in this country is credited to Frank Parsons, who in 1908 or thereabout, initiated the training of counselors and the development of scientific guidance tools. There were other early investigators including Professor Harry D. Kitson of the University of Chicago and Bloomfield and Meyer of Boston. The Guide Right Movement was patterned after the “Find Yourself Campaign” of the YMCA.
From 1929 through 1933 the Great Depression threaten the very being of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and many of its programs and activities, with Guide Right being a major one of those programs. In the view of the “Depression,” there was a greater need for the Guide Right and scholarship programs than at any previous time in the Fraternity’s history. Every effort would be made by the government and industry to prevent another depression. This would mean new legislation, new methods of production and marketing, increased efficiency of operation by government, industry and commerce, new economies, and more meaningful programs, particularly by those organizations that before 1929 sought to justify continuing existence through sentimental appeal of one or another description.
Old approaches to traditional occupation, including the professions, would be displaced by new techniques. This too would have to be passed on to high school and college students. The permanency of change was of itself good and sufficient justification for any worthwhile program of vocational guidance. Guide Right was becoming such a program. As there was an increased need for Guide Right, there was increased need for an effective scholarship and student loan program. Kappa Alpha Psi had already established the beginnings of such a program, including loans to needy and promising students. Even the most optimistic follower of President Roosevelt could not believe that the “Depression,” would end within a year or two. This meant that assistance outside the family would be needed for attendance at college. Here again, Kappa’s scholarship and student loan program promised assistance.
Fifteen Years of Guide Right
1938 marked the Fraternity’s 15 year in the field of youth guidance. On March 14, 1938, John W. Studebaker the Commissioner of the United States Department of the Interior, Office of Education, wrote the Kappa Alpha Psi Journal Editor-in-Chief (Dr. G. James Fleming), the following
My dear Mr. Fleming,
I am gratified to learn of the interest of your Fraternity in guidance. In view of the growing complexity of our civilization and increasing demands on everyone, your Guide Right Movement has special pertinence.
The Office of Education… has been interested in this subject for some time. We recently organized a Youth Committee, one of the major purposes of which is to furnish information helpful for the guidance of youth.
We have completed as survey, which should be of particular interest to your Fraternity. I refer to the National Survey of Vocational Education and Guidance of Negroes…. The information assembled by this survey should be especially valuable in the consideration of some of the problems to which your organization is addressing itself. ……………
I congratulate you on your wiliness to attack the problem, and wish for you every success.
Very truly yours
/s/ J. W. Stuedbaker
The 1938 issue of the Kappa Alpha Psi Journal was largely devoted to Guide Right. J. Jerome Peters and Leon W. Steward, co-authors of the Movement, and first national chairman and local director, recounted details respectively. The editorial of that issue said:
Stressing the Guide Right Movement in a special way befits the fifteenth anniversary of the founding of our national program. It was one thing to guide young people when there were goals to be achieved if one only knew the way. It is an entirely different thing when all roads appear to be blind alleys. It was one thing to prepare for jobs when there were jobs for all persons willing and able to work. It is another thing when jobs are few.
In 1923 when the movement had it beginning, the nation was drunk with prosperity. It was not properly recognized that job were shrinking, the both youth and the middle-aged were on the threshold of a period when their service would not be needed. We gloried in our gigantic machines, or big cities, our great county. God was in the heaven and all was well.
If the guide Right idea had struck the rulers of America years ago, there would be no need for this editorial. Somehow, it seems that there should be enough intelligence, experience and good sense in the world to harness the forces of nature and machines of man for the good of all. Somehow, it seems we should be able to overcome the “Frankenstein” we have created. To be effective in these times, guidance must reach beyond the individuals to the system and its creators.
Kappa Alpha Psi cannot be unmindful of the thousands of youth who see no future beyond the National Conservation Corps, and of the millions of “unemployables” we have reached the age of forty. Neither can it fail to bestir itself to make the Guide Right idea a consuming gospel to transform “the system” form a snarling “Frankenstein” into a helpful partner, which will help to bring the more abundant life to all humanity.
As the national director of Guide Right in 1938, R. J. Reynolds announced as four-point objective:
- to help Negro boys in particular, especially high school seniors, to think through their aspiration in terms of definite careers.
- to provide friendly contract between these boys and adults who were successfully employed in the fields of the boys most pronounced aptitudes and interest.
- to encourage a proper parent-child relationship concerning career choice.
- to inspire within the community at large acceptance of the responsibility for enlarging the career opportunities of Negro youth.
These objectives were the predecessors to the national objectives that we use today for Guide Right.
Guide Right in the 40’s
R. J. Reynolds directed our Fraternity’s national service program, “Guide Right” consecutively during the 1940’s, 1940 and 1941. C. Rodger Wilson, 1942 and 1943, G. Smith Hawkins, 1944 and Elbert W. Strothers, 1945 through 1949. In all, Reynolds was the director for four years, commencing in January 1938. He placed particular emphasis upon program promotion within and outside the fraternity, using radio, the press, the Journal, and publications of the Commission’s design as media. Reverend Glenn T. Settle and his internationally known “Wings Over Jordan” radio program made air coverage possible.
Recognizing that the Fraternity’s own members were as much in need of information about Guide Right as was the general public, Reynolds and his commission engaged in extensive public relations work, including such items, as “Guide Right Inspirational Display for Negro Youth,” which pictured men and women who had overcome apparently insurmountable obstacles to gain success in their various fields.
To facilitate administration, the Fraternity was divided into Guide Right districts and an assistant director named to supervise each district. A statistician was appointed to the national commission to insure appropriate follow-up and report of program effectiveness. The Self-Discovery Bank was innovated for young people in search of careers. Thomas Batson of the Washington Alumni Chapter was the program’s first statistician.
C. Roger Wilson initiated his Guide Right directorship in 1942 with a message to the membership titled, “Brand New Ideas About Guide Right.” He had presented this same message before the Grand Chapter of 1940. The new director was supervisor of a citywide counseling facility located in downtown Chicago. Wilson made a plea for examination of past efforts in light of the needs currently apparent and predictably a part of the future. He reasoned that since the Fraternity is best known by the national program given the greatest emphasis, and since the program is Guide Right, there is no choice but to make it meaningful and effective.
The objective of Guide Right were set forth in the Guide Right Promotional Bulletin in 1941, we still use and follow these objectives today. C. Rodger Wilson expressed the view that the first objective might be better to assist young people by supplementing the counseling programs of schools and other community agencies. He pointed out the criticism by professional guidance facilities and defined supplementary programs in terms of school dropouts, and youth who did not plan to go to college. Of particular merit in the Wilson critique was the program’s failure to provide guidance to the Fraternity’s own pledges and members despite the high incidence of failure.
When taking the office as Guide Right director, Elbert W. Strothers stressed the need for assisting the rehabilitation of men returning from the armed services. He published a Guide Right Workbook in 1945, with supplements in 1946 and 1947, to facilitate uniform prosecution of the program. The Workbook contained such articles as “Intrinsic Guide Right,” by Robert Umphery, “Making the Guidance Program Instrumental,” by Louis Gibbs, “Directive and Non-Directive Counseling,” by Thomas L. Border, “The Role of Community Organization in Promoting Guidance for Youth,” by Paul L. Crawford, “Preparing the Leaders of Tomorrow,” by Marvin C. Davis, and “Know the Program of Guide Right,” by Arthur C. Willis.
Moving on with Guide Right
In 1952 the Guide Right Director, Elbert W. Strothers, recited the need of young people for the kind of direction proved by the Fraternity’s national service program, and made a plea for more extensive observance on a year around basis, stating the following,
Throughout this country, young people suffer from unemployment, underemployment, inadequate housing, economic exploitation, poor schools, segregation and discrimination. Your town has thousands of boys left ignorant because of these conditions. Your Guide Right Program is vitally needed.
In 1957 the membership of the Fraternity realized that the selection of the theme “Training for Leadership” reflected a studied purpose that recognized the Fraternity needs and required wise planning. Now that the theme as to be implemented. The implementation began in the form of a recommendation from the Grand Polemarch that a national school of leadership training, patterned after similar schools by a large number of college Greek Lettered organizations. While at this point it was not clear but Guide Right was to be incorporated in the teaching of this leadership school. The membership liked the idea and showed a willingness to underwrite the cost of such a school. Plans were underway, and in 1961 the first undergraduate leadership conference in operation.
In 1969 under the chairmanship of Mel Davis, the Los Angeles Alumni Chapter’s Social Action Program took the form of a training activity for young men of the Alain LeRoy Locke High School. It was called the Kappa Instructional Leadership League, it was designed to help young men grow and develop their leadership talents in every phase of human endeavor. It provided both challenging and rewarding experiences, which richly enhanced their lives. Membership was open to male students of the tenth through the twelfth grades. The Fraternity sought to help these young men to achieve worthy goals for themselves and make constructive contributions to their community when leadership roles become their responsibilities.
The areas of study included self-identity, training, competition, social, and health education. So successful was this venture that the Kappa League idea was to become the model for Guide Right and activities in many of the chapters and provinces in the Fraternity.
In 1970 during the Conclave in Charlotte, NC the Los Angeles Alumni Chapter brought three member of its famous Kappa League. The young people demonstrated the Guide Right social action project through exhibits and a special seminar before the Grand Chapter. The Grand Chapter adopted the Kappa League idea as the format for local chapters’ social relevance programs.
Also in 1970 congress got to hear a report from Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. on the Guide Right Program and Kappa League. The Honorable John V. Tunney of California arose on the floor of the House of Representatives and declared: “Mr. Speaker, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. has undertaken a most laudable task in its Guide Right service program.” The Congress congratulated the Los Angeles Alumni Chapter for having started the Kappa League and the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. for having adopted the idea as a national program. Tunney described the activities of the Kappa League to the entire House of Representatives and concluded: “Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. is to be commended for the efforts to help young men make the most of the opportunities available to them in our society.” The entire proceedings were printed in the “Congressional Record.”
In 1971 commemoration its sixth decade, the Fraternity initiated twelve annual scholarships for male freshmen to attend the University of Indiana, Bloomington where the Fraternity was founded, January 5, 1911. Competing with teenagers from then Kappa League pilot cities, fifteen-year-old Kevin Chaney from St. Louis won the profile and career choice competition, and Alde Lewis of Flint Michigan, and eighteen year old dancer, won the talent battle. The Kappa League concept had become a successful Guide Right Program of the Fraternity.
At Conclave in 1971 in Houston Texas more than six hundred guest attended the public meeting of the 57th Grand Chapter, saw a demonstration of the activities of the Kappa League and heard a brilliant address by Dr. Samuel D. Proctor. Proctor told those present that as soon as our survival of slavery was accomplished, “we found ourselves with hardly any choice but to become participants in rapidly expanding urbanized, technological society that has a built in reward system, an inhibition to criticism, severe penalties for those whose participation is lukewarm, and highly visible rewards for the faithful.”
Bringing Guide Right to the Present
By 1989, Guide Right as the Fraternity’s national service program had been observed for almost seven decades. The February, 1989 issue of the Kappa Alpha Psi Journal looked at the role Guide Right is playing in various communities and highlighted a few chapters whose programs were considered most successful. For most chapter of Kappa, there are no endeavors more important, no programs as urgent as those that focus on the development of young minds. Guide Right is so much at the heart of Kappa Alpha Psi that, to some the names are virtually interchangeable. It is the single undertaking by which Kappa Alpha Psi is best known. In short it the Fraternity’s most important contribution within the African American community on a national level.
In 1989 Jay Crosby, National Guide Right Chairman had this to say about Guide Right, “We have done a wonderful job over the years in our Guide Right pursuits, but there is always more that can be done. There are special concerns that accompany the world we live in. And our job in guiding young people, particularly those in the black community, is more formidable than ever. And so it takes a formidable effort.”
A Summary of Guide Right and Kappa League
Guide Right consists of any program undertaken by member of our Fraternity that attempts to broaden the horizon of young people. Fraternity literature states that it is a program “for the educational and occupational guidance of youth, primarily inspirational and informational in character.” Under that broad definition, Guide Right programs have come to take on a variety of forms from providing scholarships and academic counseling for high school students to programs centered to summer camps for economically disadvantaged young people.
Example of Guide Right may be found in the Miss Black University Pageant and Scholarship drive by the Sigma Chapter, a lunch buddies program set up by the Danville (VA) Alumni chapter, a scholarship foundation in Baltimore, to a Mentoring program in Washington, D.C. Prominently featured under the Guide Right heading is a program introduced in Los Angeles by Mel Davis, then chairman of the chapters Social Action Committee. It is a program of sustained interaction between alumni members and the Fraternity and junior-and senior-high school-age students.
Kappa leagues involve seminars and discussions on such topics as career preparation, health, academics, and sexual responsibility. In some cities, Kappa Leaguers receive scholarships from the chapter once they go to college. This program also includes to museums, businesses and colleges campuses. While many chapters do not have Kappa League programs, the overwhelming majority do have programs that involve systematic interaction with high school youths.
In this writing I highlighted a history of Guide Right and Kappa League from it’s beginning all the way up until modern time. As can be seen in this writing Guide Right has a long history within Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc. Guide Right has had the presents of great leaders pushing it along in Kappa. Men such as J. Jerome Peters and C. Rodger Wilson have help from and mold Guide Right into what it is today. In this paper you hear where some believe that Guide Right is the single most important program that Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc. has ever taken part in. Kappa owes the St. Louis Alumni and Los Angeles Alumni chapters a great deal of credit for their ideas of how we as an organization can help guide and mentor our youth. It was these ideas that came to fruition in the form of Guide Right and Kappa League. I am proud to say that I have participated in my chapters Guide Right program, and that we place the same type of importance on Guide Right as many of our brothers did in years past. Guide Right and Kappa League are programs that will always be needed, and it is up to us as Kappa men to make sure that we make these programs the best that they can be, to help our youth in today’s society. So in conclusion I would like to say that I hope that this writing highlighted Guide Right and it’s importance to our Fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.