ATLANTA, Georgia --
At a hotel in downtown Atlanta a crowd of business suit-clad men gather together. In the packed conference room of the hotel, two of these men stand out amongst the rest.
The gathering is the Phi Beta Sigma Conclave, an event held every two years for members of arguably one of the most prestigious historically black fraternities.
The two men who stand out are members just like everyone else in attendance, except they are Marines.
According to the fraternity’s website, www.pbs1914.org, the organization was established to act as “a part of the general community rather than apart from the general community.”
With a desire to build fraternal bonds based on brotherhood, they devoted the fraternity to the idea of the “inclusive we rather than the exclusive we.”
Phi Beta Sigma also fosters a strong sense of community service by utilizing their newly acquired skills for building stronger communities upon graduating college.
This bears more than a slight resemblance to the Marine Corps saying that we as Marines are a reflection of the society from where we are chosen. In addition to that, the Marine Corps shares the same vision with Phi Beta Sigma of building better citizens in preparation for their return to society.
In other words, both organizations believe in building stronger citizens.
Always in search for the sharpest and brightest officer candidates, 1st Lt. Bentwan Taylor, executive officer of Recruiting Station Jacksonville, Fla., and Capt. Morris Michael Scharber, operations officer, 1st Battalion 12th Marines, attended the event in an effort to reach out and educate perspective officer candidates on what it means to them to serve our nation and lead Marines as U.S. Marine Corps officers.
“The Marines have consistently been involved with these kinds of events in the past, but we need to expand our strategic approach to the diversity market,” said Marjanee Shook, J. Walter Thompson Account Executive and the 6th Marine Corps District marketing representative. “So we asked ourselves ‘instead of looking for a needle in a hay stack, why don’t we attend events with stacks of needles’.”
The Marine Corps and Sigma share similar values, which makes it easy to find scores of “needles,” throughout both organizations, which Taylor said is exactly the point of him joining the Corps and Sigma.
“During the process of indoctrination, they teach you about the history and the things that make Phi Beta Sigma,” said Scharber. “Which is similar to the experience you have in boot camp, it doesn’t become so much about you, but more about your team and forming an alliance. From the very get-go, Sigma promotes leadership in their members, something the Marine Corps holds in high regards from the very beginning of the training process.”
Sigma also prepares its members for roles in leadership, something that Scharber said the Marine Corps took to the next level for him.
“In college you learn more of a courage-type leadership where you have to stand up for what you want and what you think is important,” said Scharber. “Whereas leadership in the Marine Corps is literally taking Marines and leading them through a mission which could ultimately be a life or death situation.”
During the Sigma Conclave Marines spoke one-on-one with fraternity members, giving them insight into the Marine Corps, the benefits it offers and how it builds upon skills many Sigma members already possess.
With the shared bonds of citizenship, service to community and building a strong core leadership, being present at the conclave gave the Marines a perfect opportunity to meet with potential candidates from one our nation’s top fraternities, who may one day have the privilege of leading Marines in our nation’s top fighting organization.