It was the lyrics from Angie Stone’s song, “Brotha,” that inspired Sigma Gamma Rho president, Alecia Gail Gray, to initiate the first Brothers’ Appreciation Day at the University of Miami.
Sponsored by the sorority, Brothers’ Appreciation Day is centered around an essay contest that seeks nominations for the Sigma Gamma Rho Man of the Year.
“This is a general celebration where we appreciate, recognize, and acknowledge significant black men in our lives,” Gray said.
Any black male affiliated with the University may be nominated, she said, and the nominator is required to write a one-page essay about how the subject is a positive role model.
Stephanie Floris, 18, freshman, heard about the contest at a United Black Students meeting and nominated a close friend.
“He helped me to stay focused and get through my freshman year,” Floris said. “Plus, he has accomplished so much academically.”
Karla Cato, 19, sophomore, said she was not planning to make a nomination this year, but that if she did, it would be to honor Daniel Best, advisor for the business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi.
Best, now a data control clerk in the Office of Financial Assistance, was the first minority to join the chapter when he was a student at UM.
“He is very inspirational and takes risks in life,” Cato said. “He was the first to suggest allowing women to join the fraternity.”
The winner will be announced at the appreciation day ceremony at 7:22 p.m. next Tuesday at the Rathskeller, Gray said.
The black sorority uses 22, she added, because it was founded in 1922.
Graduate members of the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority will judge the essays anonymously.
Members of the UM chapter will not take part or have any influence on the judging, Gray said.
The grand prize for the contest is dinner for two at the Cheesecake Factory; two movie tickets for second place; and a Blockbuster Video gift certificate for third place.
The sorority will provide the prizes from fundraisers that the members have previously sponsored.
This included a $12 singing Valentine, whereby the sorority sisters serenaded the recipient and presented him or her with a rose and a balloon. A picture, capturing the person’s expression, was then delivered to the person who purchased the Valentine.
Gray, a senior majoring in business management and organization, said she hopes this will be the first of many Brothers’ Appreciation Days.
“It is something people will appreciate and enjoy,” Gray said, “and I hope it turns into an annual event.”
Today is the last day that nominations will be accepted. Applications are available in the United Black Students office, located in the University Center, Room 215.