Sean McCaskill recently became the first person from Pittsburgh to hold the position of Eastern Region vice president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
He joined the fraternity April 7, 1990. There were eight who went over with him. After he graduated from Indian University of Pennsylvania, it took him some time to get involved with the alumni chapter again. He is a graduate of Brashear High School and went to IUP for criminology in which he received his bachelor’s degree. He also went back to earn his master’s degree in sociology.
|NEW VP—Sean McCaskill gives a speech after his election.
“One of the things we stand for is scholarship and leadership and I started seeing the leadership opportunities within the fraternity. The biggest thing about our fraternity is that we have social partners that we work with along with corporate organizations. March for Babies is an organization that raised almost $300,000 for them. We have a thing called “Project Alpha” where we work with inner male,” McCaskill said.
Under his administration they are attacking the crisis of Black males in the community, which is a permanent focus. Returning from Boston, the fraternity honored a young man who participated in an oratorical contest. He spoke and people were in tears listening to this young man and what he had to say. He was able to articulate the issues of Black male problems and solutions. In a few years McCaskill will run for re-election, but while he currently holds the position, he plans to tackle the lack of education and Black- on-Black violence.
“Like many Black males, I was blessed and able to play sports. I was good enough to get by when I was in high school. I was blessed with the opportunity to play football for Brashear High. I also knew that if I wanted to keep playing football that there were certain things that I needed to accomplish. I also played basketball and track. People started looking at me in a new light. I was no longer just Sean McCaskill from the ’hood, but I was being noticed more for being a football player. Playing sports allowed me to stay on the straight and positive path to college. I had the opportunity to start for four year and things were pretty good. I know there are a lot of negative stereotypes about fraternities and sororities, but I have to be honest with you and tell you that being in a fraternity saved my life as well. I was in the same room with an individual that thought about life totally different than I did. Once I started getting involved in the fraternity, it opened the door to the rest of my life,” he said.
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. is divided into five different regions that comprises the board. The position McCaskill holds has never been held in western Pennsylvania before, so he made history and is very proud of it. The campaign was run similar to the campaign for the president of the United States. They had to raise money and travel up and down the east coast and to Virginia Beach.
“I believe in timing and I think it is the time for the message that I have to bring to the community. Coming up the way I did, I see life different than brothers in the fraternity. A lot of the people we serve in the community, I was one of those kids and I relate to the brothers. I am celebrating my 20th year as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and in that time, I have found my own mentors. I am dealing with some of the most prestigious people in our society. Meeting Sen. Edward Brooks was a great opportunity for a guy like me from the Hill District. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. is getting ready to erect the monument for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. down in Washington, D.C. in 2011. I will be able to meet President Barack Obama at the time so things are limitless being a part of this fraternity,” he said.
There are many strong Black brothers like Brian Cook, director of communications for the Eastern Region, who is on McCaskill’s staff. Cook does all the video production and he is an outstanding talent. They are utilizing Cook’s talents so that other opportunities can happen for him as well. Brother Benjamin Davis who does the website is also a great talent. Cook and Davis are considered to be the foundation that makes things happen and they are trying to change the game.
“The main thing that is on my mind right now is mentoring—looking at the Black males and tackling domestic violence. What you are starting to see is an epidemic of Black males who are involved with domestic violence. I just lost a close friend, Mara Dyer-Knox, due to domestic violence and that crushed me. We are going to start networking to branch out, let people know that we are more than just singing and dancing. We are all about social change within our community as well,” he said.
“When I became a member of Alpha Phi Aphi Fraternity, Inc. back in 1990, things were different. This is a different population of young Black males today. I always ask the youth, what is your R.O.I.? That means what is your return on your investment? If there is no return on your investment then you should not join the fraternity. Joining the fraternity is something that you should want to do because you are not getting paid for it. You sacrifice time with your family by joining the fraternity so there is a lot to think about. My return on my investment was the exposure. Dreams really do come true and you can make things happen. I am also the residential director for Three Rivers Youth.”
The Alphas have a public program called “Every Hero” that pays tribute to people on the ground doing the footwork for the organization. People in the educational and social services fields and the clergy are people that are highlighted. They are going back to the root to acknowledge those individuals for the work they are doing and they are also acknowledging Black males for the positive things they are doing.
“I do a lot of consulting by dealing with African-American boys in the school system. There are some skills that I have that will give me the opportunity to bless more people. It’s great to be able to come back to your hometown and be a blessing to others. Just because you are from a so- called high-risk environment doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your goals and dreams. Once you make it, you are supposed to reach back and pull someone up with you. We call it the reach one, teach one,” McCaskill concluded.
(You can contact Sean McCaskill at VicePresident@AlphaEast7.com to congratulate him on this major achievement.)