Wilson Step Show

LONG BEACH, CA – On December 9, 2022 Wilson Young Black Scholars Club hosted their first Step Show. Members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, African American and Black fraternities and sororities from California State University Long Beach sang, chanted, danced and taught a packed auditorium.

The show began with hip hop music and students running down the aisles with, “Young Black Scholars,” and “Black Lives Matter,” Flags, to raucous cheers. The President and Vice President of YBS came out dancing and introduced Sherell Rivers, Syanne Rivers, Siara Rivers, who sang the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice.”

The audience watched a short film about the purpose of YBS. People throughout the video explained the activities involved and made the club a more fun experience. People in the film also discussed the opportunities that YBS members can have as well as getting themselves more involved at Wilson High School. YBS club members interviewed each other for about two weeks and both black and non-black students shared their opinions about YBS. All of the responses were positive, and it helped people learn and uplift the community.

Wilson’s Assistant Principal Dr. Keith Roberson came on stage celebrating YBS and then put on his Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity jacket with pride.

The Step dance has African roots and is an African American tradition as well as part of Black history. The members of the fraternities and sororities join in steps—elaborate synchronized group routines that are performed in competitions between the fraternities and sororities called “step shows.” Step shows incorporate cheerleading, military, and drill-team moves, especially the call-and-response element inherent in those forms. These aspects are not only important to the energy of stepping for entertainment use but also for bonding and pride within their organizations. 

Many fraternities and sororities showed off their step skills, while informing students about the importance of this art form. Former Wilson staff, and member of Omega Psi Phi explained that he wanted “to show young Black students what college could look like to them and that there’s more than just academics when it comes to college, there’s also community and learning about each other. It helps embrace where you came from.”

Gordon said, “It was important for us to be here to show the outside view, a view of college perspectives, to talk about experiences and community. It was great to influence young Black people to favor joining a sorority or fraternity in the future.”

Ayana Blade, President of the Long Beach State Zeta Phi Beta Sorority explained the importance of Black sororities and told the story of her sorority through step dancing. At the end of her step dance she crossed her arms while locking her thumbs together and extending her fingers to symbolize a dove. The dove is a symbol of her sorority, and ending a step with the symbol of the sorority or fraternity is common. Omega Psi Phi held their hands above and aside their heads facing their palms outward in the shape of the Greek letter Psi. 

Ayana’s sorority was a significant reason why she got into stepping. It extended her connection with the people around her. 

“It’s like a sisterhood,” she explained. The men in the fraternities are like her “brothers so it’s a big family.”

She recommends learning and practicing step to anyone who’s interested but she said she especially recommends it to Black students. She said that Black students should “join a sorority or fraternity in college to learn about the culture and the black community.”

Noah Kushner, a Wilson senior in the Performing Arts Pathway and the Executive Director of YBS explained that they had been preparing for the show for about three months. He said practicing for the show felt like a lot but since they had a team it made it feel pretty easy. And  they have another project in the works for the future.

Shirnese Flewelen, another member of Cal State Long Beach Zeta Phi Beta explained, “It was really fun to see all the Black kids on campus and to be able to educate them on our lovely sorority. Shout out to Devastating Delta Eta chapter of Cal State Long Beach, that’s where we’re from.”

At the start of the 20th century, a small number of Black students came together from mainly Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to form their own sororities and fraternities. These organizations are known collectively as the National Pan-Hellenic Council or the “Divine Nine”. Each of these organizations were established with unique core values but shared a common goal: to educate and uplift the Black community from racial inequities. The Divine nine include: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Iota Phi Theta Fraternity. 

Thinking About Joining a Sorority or Fraternity?

Paige Charles, Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated said, ”I love to see students excited about learning and just discovering who they are, no matter who you are.”  

If you’re thinking about joining a fraternity in college, Aaron Whitehurst said, “My favorite part of the fraternity is that it forces me to look outside of myself. The hopping and the stepping is the fun part, we do a lot of community service, we do a lot of things on college campus like financial literacy events.” Charles also said, “We love to see students grow up, go to college, and join our organizations. We’re really really big about community service and impacting our community. You can definitely go online and go to our organization’s main website and you will see different regions, our region is the Western region, that’s how you would get in contact with any of our chapters or any of us depending on the region you are in.”

An important part of the sororities and fraternities is helping the community and lending support.