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The Founders Gather

Founders: (Back L>R) W. Williams, J. Hill, N. Monroe, B. Simms, R. Simpson, J. Conquest, W. Goodwin. (Front L>R) B. Hampton, N. Parham, C. Johnson.

April 19, 2008 was truly a momentous occasion as 12 of the 14 original founders of Groove Phi Groove Social Fellowship, Inc.—Raymond Clark, John Conquest, Walter Goodwin, Barry Hampton, James Hill, Charles Johnson, Nathaniel Monroe, David Nesbitt, Nathaniel Parham, Sr., Barry Simms, Robert Simpson, and Woodrow Williams—gathered almost 46 years later at Morgan State University, the founding place of Groove Phi Groove.  One founder, Glen Brown, was never far from their minds, and another founder, Harry Payne, was there in spirit.  Meeting to talk about business and the founders’ concerns as to the direction of the organization, the History Committee—represented by Tony Gass, Edmond Davis, and Chris Calhoun—along with members of the Baltimore-Columbia Graduate Chapter, other fellowmen, and some members of Swings, sat in on a general interview that was videotaped and recorded as the founders talked about their lives at Morgan, the roots of their enduring friendship, and the founding of the organization.

It was truly fascinating to hear about the culture at Morgan, the faculty, the rules and regulations, and other organizations on campus. The founders also recalled the segregation and racial discrimination of the surrounding area—especially Northwood Plaza, directly across the street from campus—that compelled some of them to protest and be arrested, subsequently spending a considerable time in jail.  It was a great pleasure to hear details about the start of Groove Phi Groove, including singing in front of the female dorms, the protest in Soper Library that led to a conflict with the administration, and the two-year struggle to gain university recognition.  Those listening even learned about the origins of the infamous Groove Juice.

What was abundantly clear from the nearly two-hour interview was the love that the founders have for one another and the organization and their continued commitment to Groove Phi Groove’s success since its founding on October 12, 1962.  The founders plan to have other get-togethers, and the History Committee hopes to capture other important glimpses into and reminiscences about Groove Phi Groove’s history.