Stepping to their brothers’ footsteps


Members of UK sorority Delta Sigma Theta perform their step routine on Center Theatre stage during the UK Stepping Through the Decades event in the Student Center on, Feb. 8, 2015. Photo by Marcus Dorsey | Staff

Marjorie Kirk

To brothers in the National Pan-Hellenic Council fraternities at UK, the steps of the men who came before them are more than a routine—they are a connection to history.

NPHC is hosting on Sunday the third annual “Stepping Through the Decades,” an event that kicks off Black History Month at UK by acknowledging the activism of past brothers with presentations on their contributions to civil rights and the performance of decade-old step routines.

“All of our organizations are founded by members who had some type of civil rights activism,” said Isaac Epps, president of Iota Phi Theta. “So we continue to honor that ideal of our founders today and present a presentation where we recognize a member of our organization who continues or has shown significant civil rights activism.”

Each fraternity will give a presentation on its chapter’s history and will choose one person who made significant contributions to black history and civil rights to showcase.

The brothers of Iota Phi Theta have chosen to present on Congressman Bobby Rush, a past member of the fraternity, the only person to defeat Barack Obama in an election, and a dedicated civil rights activist.

“We are doing him because in his past he’s been a Black Panther member and he’s also supported the Black Lives Matter Movement,” Epps said. “He’s on a show on YouTube where he’s talking to Congress, and he takes off his suit and everything, and has a hoodie on underneath, trying to express the fact that the lives of Treyvon Martin and the other black kids who were murdered because of the stereotypes put on black people, matter.”

Following the presentations, each fraternity will perform a step routine — some of which have been passed down for decades — that is significant to its members.

“A lot of the performances are going to incorporate chapter history or chants that are symbolic to the tradition of the chapter,” NPHC President Patrick Smith said. “For example the Kappa Alpha Psi chapter we are going to preform a chapter step that has been passed down since our foundation started.”

Teaching the steps is a way for the members to remain connected to the brothers who stood up in a time of racial discrimination, when fraternities and most colleges refused to admit them.

“Most of the steps that we’ve done have been done by someone else in the past so everything we learn we continue bringing those teachings to the next new members who join our organization,” Epps said. “For step shows, when people see those, that’s just made up steps and everyone is just trying to be creative, but what we’re actually doing is something that’s been done for 50 years almost.”

After the performances there will be a discussion about the state of minorities on UK’s campus.

“(Students can) get involved in the discussion on the racial climate that has been going on in this country,” Smith said. “I think with all that has been going on it’s a great opportunity for them to kind of let their voice be heard about how they feel about things going on today.”