Complex Civil Rights Organizations: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, An Exemplar

29 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2014 Last revised: 12 Dec 2014

See all articles by Gregory Scott Parks

Gregory Scott Parks

Wake Forest University - School of Law

Rashawn Ray

University of Maryland

Shawna Patterson

University of Pennsylvania

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 21, 2014


The traditional conception of an African American civil rights organization is one in which the primary focus of the organization is racial justice. The NAACP, National Urban League, and Southern Christian Leadership Conference fit this long and traditional mold. However, there are African American organizations that have what organizational behavior scholars would call “complex identities.” Such organizations have multiple constituent parts or identities. One type of organization that fits this mold, especially in the context of African American’s quest for racial justice and equality in the United States, are African American collegiate-based fraternities and sororities. Given the cultural-political, institutional, and organizational factors that gave rise to these organizations, it can be said that their identities are comprised of (1) intellectualism/academic achievement; (2) the development and sustaining of fictive kinship ties; (3) race consciousness; and (4) an abiding and life-long organizational commitment. Despite African American fraternities and sororities’ collective history of racial uplift activism via the American Council on Human Rights and their individual efforts, challenges that they face in each of their four identity domains likely undermine what could be their more meaningful and robust efforts in this regard.

Keywords: Race, Civil Rights, History, Organizational Behavior

Suggested Citation

Parks, Gregory Scott and Ray, Rashawn and Patterson, Shawna, Complex Civil Rights Organizations: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, An Exemplar (January 21, 2014). Available at SSRN: or

Gregory Scott Parks (Contact Author)

Wake Forest University - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 7206
Winston-Salem, NC 27109
United States
3367582170 (Phone)

Rashawn Ray

University of Maryland ( email )

College Park
College Park, MD 20742
United States

Shawna Patterson

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics

Under construction: SSRN citations will be offline until July when we will launch a brand new and improved citations service, check here for more details.

For more information