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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Which Historically Black Greek Letter Fraternity Started Stepping?

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part II of a two part series on the history of and influences on Black Greek letter fraternity and sorority stepping (steppin).

This post provides selected quotes from the viewer discussion thread of a 2013 YouTube video of an Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Stroll Off performance.

The content of this post is presented for historial, folkloric, cultural reasons with regard to the subject of the early history of fraternity stepping.

I'm presenting these comments without taking any position about the statements that are made. However, I suggest that readers also consider those statements along with the information and comments that are presented in Part I of this series. Also, read my comments in that section below.

Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2015/04/when-did-historically-black-greek.html for Part I of this series.

Part I provides excerpts from Elizabeth C. Fine's 2003 groundbreaking book SoulStepping: African American Step Shows (University of Illinois Press). An excerpt from Wikipedia's page on Stepping is given in the Addendum to this post.

"Strolling" (also known as "stroll offs" and "party walks") are non-competitive and competitive group struts and dancing performances to recorded music. Strolling shares the same history and early sources as historically Black Greek letter[ed] fraternity and sorority stepping and is now performed by Latino Greek lettered organizations, multi-cultural Greek lettered organizations, and others. Click http://www.greekster.tv/page/greek-strolling-history-and for another definition of "strolling" and comments about the history of strolling ("stroll offs", "party walks"). Also click the "stroll off" tab below for more pancocojams posts that about strolling or which feature examples of historic ally Black Greek lettered organization stroll offs.

There also are a number of pancocojams posts on historically Black Greek letter[ed] fraternity and sorority stepping. Click the tags found below or use this blog's search engine to find those posts.

The content of this post is presented for historical and cultural purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to all those who are featured in the video that is featured in this post, and thanks to the publisher of that video on YouTube.

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FEATURED VIDEO: Omega Psi Phi 2013 Atlanta Greek Picnic Hop team @atlgreekpicnic



Atlanta Greek Picnic Published on Jun 10, 2013

2013 Atlanta Greek Picnic Omega Psi Phi Hop team/ Stroll Off ||

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SELECTED COMMENTS FROM THAT VIDEO'S DISCUSSION THREAD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEdlpwUDd7M "Omega Psi Phi 2013 Atlanta Greek Picnic Hop team @atlgreekpicnic"

Editor's note:
A number of commenters in this video's discussion thread mentioned that this Omega Psi Phi Fraternity stroll off was different than most stroll offs that they had seen members of that fraternity perform. The most commonly mentioned difference was that the step team added Salsa music and Chicago footwork to the hops that Ques are known for. Commenters also mentioned that this Que stroll off was different because the men weren't wearing boots (particularly the gold boots that Ques are known for).

With the exception of the first and the last comment, these selected comments are from an exchange in that video's YouTube discussion thread. That exchange focuses on whether Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. or Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc originated stepping. This is the entire exchange to date. The first comment refers to the ways that Ques step. The last comment refers to that exchange.

[Updated September 29, 2016 with the comments numbered for referencing purposes only.]

2013
1. gomab850
"Great show! Y'all typically get penalized because you march and hop instead of doing traditional strolls like other orgs so people don't know how to judge you all. The show was creative and definitely got the crowd involved. Good job fellow greeks!"
-snip-
The Ques didn't win that competition. This commenter implies that the Ques lost because their way of strolling is different from the ways that other historically Black Greek letter organizations stroll.

2014
2. colors1387
"very nice show. glad to see the omegas diversifying their routine a bit with some Sigma elements.its all good as its about showmanship and entertainment. again,good job."

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Reply
3. Chris Perkins
"+colors1387
Sigma elements? Curious as to what those were in this show?"
-snip-
This comment was written in response to a member of Omega Psi Phi, Inc. criticizing this step team for diverging from the traditional ways that Ques stroll.

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2015
Reply
4. Malcolm Dicko
"+colors1387 curious to what "sigma elements " are do sigmas even have anything of their own ?"

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5. colors1387
"glad you asked,Malcolm.but the phrase should be 'what Doesnt Sigma have of their own'.first, the genesis of stepping has been attributed to us. the steps that most are doing now were originated by us back in the mid-late 70's.the style of omega steps now arent what they were 30 years ago.back in the day,they marched,not hopped. the very beginning moves are some mainstays in our routines. i could go on with this but my hope is that you get the point. in any event, step styles really dont matter as they change, are copied, etc. what Does matter is the organizations contributions to humanity,the adhering to founding principles,and the collective conduct of its members (especially in public). these are topics worthy of debate.that the omegas used some of our stuff doesnt matter as we didnt copywrite it."

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6. artsygirlify
"+colors1387 APPLAUSE...well said or posted"

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7. colors1387
"artsygirlify - i humbly thank you for your kindness."

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8. Chris Perkins
"+colors1387
+artsygirlify - y'all must have a PBS-ZPB connection, Or nah? Modern day stepping originates directly from African dancing and the slaves used it as call and response chants during slavery as a means of communication, toss in the addition of influence from the Motown musical movement, (i.e Temptation, Four Tops, etc). No one frat or sorority "originated" stepping, so we'll agree to disagree there. Also stepping started becoming popular in the late 60s not the 70s as a right of passage to new inductees (Neo's) upon their introduction to the campus as full members....Greeks took elements from the motherland and the popular music at the time and it has morphed into what it is now. But what you said was true as far as the styles changing over the years, that is true...every orgs current steps are different than they were in the 70s and 80s."
-snip-
Chris Perkins notes that the reason why artsygilify supported colors1387 comment is that she is probably a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. That sorority is the formal sister organization to Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity.

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Reply
9. colors1387
"+Chris Perkins as a ChiCity G.O.M.A.B brother, i spit game but i most enjoy spittin knowledge.for you and anyone else please search/ type in 'Stepping (African American)' and go to Wikipedia. Please pay particular attention to the first paragraph under the heading 'History' .now let me first say that i would be Honored if artsygirlify is my soror but i dont know if she is.nevertheless, i have much love for her. and now to you - modern day stepping originates from the Sigmas who began the practice shortly after the turn of the century (which FAR pre-dates the 60's / 70's as you espoused).admittedly, sororities didnt step until the late 70's/early 80's. true, the art-form came from Africa by many sources including Kwame Nkrumah (a Sigma) who introduced a few steps, one of them with a staff / cane back in the late 30's / early 40's (that kills that nonsense from that other frat talking about cane stepping) but i digress. truth is we stepped before Nkrumah became a brother. stepping far pre-dates Mowtown so i needn't address that 'dead-end' point (though the Temptations Were Sigma men. hmm, imagine that). yup- one frat Did originate stepping and now you know who. so while you may agree to disagree, im not sure who you'll be disagreeing with.i could go on but i hope you get the point. last, i have only one request of you,frater; the next time this topic comes up either among your brothers or others, please give credit where credit is due. this is the honorable thing. Thnx"

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10. Chris Perkins
"+colors1387
Much love man, I enjoy building and spitting knowledge as well. But Bro are you really citing Wikipedia as a reference??? Dog, you know anybody can create edit and Wiki page right? I respect your opinion, but I won't be using Wiki as a reference tool bruh, for pretty much anything. Also can you clarify...The turn of the century? Meaning 1900? So are your saying that the founding Sigma's engaged in stepping?"

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11. colors1387
"+Chris Perkins no,no, the Most Honorable Founders most certainly were not concerned with such trivialities. im speaking about the short time thereafter. while wiki does not stand as the definitive 'end all,be all' of information, i cited it because it was in line with Our historical perspective. of note was that Your brotherhood was Also mentioned which is Also in our historical account (in fact Your fraternity is mentioned a few times in Our history book. had we not mentioned Omega as we did, it would have done Your frat a disservice. as Sigma men, we do not believe in diminishing the accomplishments of others just because they are not Sigmas. credit is given. such is the way of Sigma) .anyway, i have read enough of wiki to know that when it comes to Sigma history, it is reasonably accurate. That's why its cited . i extrapolated upon your knowledge in order to illustrate where You were correct and in line with Sigma history as well. my tendency is to be rather pragmatic about things. i have no interest in 'one upmanship'. as such, whether its me, and/or my brotherhood , or you and your brotherhood, i believe in giving credit where its due. the stepping distinction lies where it is. whether folks outside of Sigma acknowledge that is of no consequence to us. It Is what It Is. bytheway, i misinformed you about sorority stepping. the Zetas Were stepping in the mid- late 70's. i know because i watched them. and they were pretty good at it, i might say.get at me,frater. its a pleasure dialogueing with you. G.O.M.A.B / F.I.E.T.T.S."

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12. fred ramsey
"And For the RECORD, OMEGAS WILL NEVER LOOK LIKE SIGMAS WHEN IT COMES TO HOPPING! "WITH ALL RESPECT TO PHI BETA SIGMA" WE ARE THE ORIGINATORS OF HOPPING AND MARYLAND BRUHZ WILL ALWAYS SET IT OWT WITH MAD-E, CREATIVITY, AND SWAG, RQQ TO GOOD BRUHZ (PLEDGING DOESN'T AUTOMATICALLY MAKE YOU GOOD BY THE WAY)"


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1 comment:

  1. In determining the history of something, it's important to get as much information about that phenomenon as you can by attempting to answer these "w" and "h" questions: "what", "who", when", "where", and "how". While anecdotal stories provide some information, written, photographic, and audio documentation is usually considered more credible.

    Ultimately, it may be impossible to determine which historically Black Greek letter fraternity was the first to step [There's no doubt that fraternities stepped before sororities.] One reason for this is that people asking this question may mean different things when they refer to fraternity and sorority stepping. (as opposed to the couple's dance stepping, i.e. "Chicago stepping").

    For instance, the earliest written records and the earliest photographic records of fraternity pledges (at Howard University) are of pledges marching across the yard or walking across the yard in vertical lines. Is this stepping or is it what was known (in the 1990s) as "strolls or party walks (or "struts"). And if it is either stepping or strolling, is that how people are determining which organization was the first to step?

    ReplyDelete