By Victor Ochieng
It appears Bishop Eddie Long’s name will stay around longer than expected. It all began with people paying tributes following Long’s death, then to the gentlemen he allegedly lured into a s*xual relationship promising to spill the beans, and now the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. members calling for the withdrawal of an award previously given to the pastor.
Those who want the award taken away from Long say the former Bishop didn’t live a life worthy of the honor.
During Long’s funeral in January, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. was in attendance. “Brother Long was indeed the ideal Kappa man,” said Thomas Battles, Jr. at the New Birth Missionary Baptist at Long’s funeral service. “On behalf of our brothers, we have this Laurel Wreath pin. With permission, this grand pole march intends to give it to you right now.” In a special tribute that was recorded and posted on YouTube, Battles is seen handing over the special pin to Bishop Long’s wife Vanessa.
It was such a great honor by the Kappa group, being that the pin award is the highest honor a Kappa member can receive. Some of the other people who’ve won the Laurel Wreath are civil rights figure Dr. Leon Sullivan and tennis star Arthur Ashe.
Unfortunately, Long’s honor is now being disputed, with South Carolina State Representative Cezar McKight saying Long wasn’t an ideal Kappa man. “I was totally put off by the fact that we would give our organization’s highest award to someone with the reputation of Eddie Long,” lamented McKnight, who’s been a member of the fraternity since 1996. Long became New Birth Church pastor in 1987 and he steered the church to greater heights.
During his tenure, the congregation at New Birth rose from 300 to 25,000, making the congregation among the largest in the United States. He employed a strategy that involved expanding his church’s reach through televangelism and satellite churches in Charlotte N.C., Miami, and Denver. According to Kappa member Anthony Jackson, Long was to receive the fraternity’s Laurel Wreath honor in 2011. “All we know is that when the award winners were announced, he was not among them,” said Jackson. Speculations are that Long may have been skipped because of the allegations leveled against him by the four men who accused him of seducing them into s*xual relationships with him.
“Between 2009 and 2011 everything we knew about Eddie Long was different than at the time he was” nominated to receive the honor, added Jackson. Although Long didn’t admit to having groomed the four gentlemen into s*xual relationship, he agreed to an out of court settlement of an undisclosed amount, something that saw many people conclude that Long was actually guilty. “He was an embarrassment to our organization,” McKnight said. “Eddie does not belong in the pantheon of great Kappas.”
Jackson claims that Long wasn’t really honored the right way. “The pole march did not convey the wreath on Eddie Long,” Jackson said. On his end, McKnight said, “The Laurel Wreath is not awarded that way.” However, “to the non-initiated it looks like Kappa gave this s*xual predator the highest honor,” McKnight added.
Because he’s not happy with the kind of honor and declaration Kappa made at Long’s funeral service, McKnight demanded that something be done to correct it, going as far as writing to Battles to inform him of his concerns. Consequently, he stopped paying any dues or offer any financial support to the group.
There is really nothing to worry about, Jackson asserts.