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Spring 2013 - Volume 2, Issue 1

Date Released: 7 January 2013

Contributors: Janice-Eatman Williams, Alicia Graves, Erma Leaphart-Gouch, Mark Smith, Charity Taylor, Linda Wheatt, Greg Young

President's Message

PresidentIt is a pleasure to address alumni in our fifth newsletter. I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday season and is having a fruitful spring.

The AAAA has accomplished quite a bit since the last newsletter. We have launched the Reach Back—Raise Up Pledge Drive to raise funds for African American Students.  We are in the final stages of creating a Mentorship Program that will benefit both students and alumni, and we have generated a number of great ideas to engage students and alumni in the Greater Cleveland region and across the country. We are hard at work on programs that will be unveiled in the very near future.

Last, but certainly not least, we look forward to seeing students, faculty, staff, and alumni at the 23rd Annual Unity Banquet on April 12, 2013. I hope everyone who is able to attend will do so, and those who cannot attend will support the students through donations. This event is definitely one of the highlights of the spring semester and the AAAA will be there to support!

Have a wonderful spring and stay tuned for the next chapter of the African American Alumni Association.

Move forward with us. Stay connected. Reach back. And raise up a student.

Alicia Graves (CWR '05), President, African American Alumni Association

Alumni Spotlight: Russell Drake (WRC ’74)

Greg YoungWritten by Greg Young

Russell Drake enjoys reminiscing about his days at CWRU. He attended from 1970-74, during which time he was an active member of the Afro-American Society. The late Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a CWRU Law School student at the time, was a mentor to his freshman class.

During his reflective and culturally uplifting college years, Russell developed an interest in writing and authored poems of “struggle, hope, and redemption.” He expanded campus writing opportunities by joining the drum troupe Umoja Ngoma (Unity Drum), which allowed him to write poetry and perform with other talented male artists from around the country. He so impressed a theater professor that he was encouraged to seek admittance into Karamu Theatre. At the time, Drake felt it would not have been in his best interest to leave CWRU; years later he still wonders where life may have led had he taken his professor’s advice. Since graduation, Russell has published two books of poetry, A Walk in the Park and The Sounds of Truth, a self-help book, If This is a Secret, Why Am I Telling It, and a spoken word Jazz CD, When I Think of You.

Russell was also an exceptional basketball player while at CWRU. He was MVP for three years, made the All President’s Athletic Conference Team three years, and was team captain during his junior and senior years. In 1974, he became the first CWRU basketball player voted honorable mention All-America. His outstanding play earned him an NBA tryout with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He also lettered in Varsity track. Drake was inducted into Case Western Reserve University Spartan Club Hall of Fame on April 10, 1992, at which time he was the second leading scorer in CWRU basketball history with 1,396 points and ranked in the top three in five career statistical categories.

Drake is currently employed with Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company as a retail district manager in Pittsburgh. Russell’s favorite hobby is golf and he is also District 13 governor of Toastmasters International, a volunteer organization promoting the development of oral communication and leadership skills.

Russell and wife, Harriet Royster Drake, reside just north of Pittsburgh in Cranberry Township, Pa. They have three children and five grandchildren.

CWRU Spartan Club Hall of Fame

Written by Greg Young 

Frank (Doc) KelkerThe first induction banquet for the Spartan Club Athletic Hall of Fame took place in October, 1975, when it was a luncheon prior to the Homecoming football game. It has evolved into a more formal evening dinner held in the spring. Anyone can attend. On April 26, 2013, this year’s class of six inductees will join the 324 members previously enshrined.

I played CWRU varsity football from 1973-1977. After finding out from Assistant Athletic Director Nick Minerd that my seven interceptions in an eight-game season appeared to be a CWRU record, my interest in the number of African Americans in the Spartan Club Hall of Fame was rekindled. After doing some research, I have discovered that to date, only two African Americans have been confirmed in to the Hall of Fame: Russell Drake (see Alumni Spotlight) and Frank (Doc) Kelker.

Description: Description: Kelker, Frank L.: 1980Frank (Doc) Kelker was familiar with playing on winning teams. He played 53 consecutive games without a defeat—28 games at Dover High School (Ohio) and 25 games at Western Reserve University. Kelker received All-Ohio and Big Four honors three times and was named to the AP’s All-American Team. In 1937, as an end on the WRU Varsity football team, he was named an All-American on the Little All-American Team. While attending WRU, Kelker earned three letters each in track, basketball, and football. He graduated in 1938 with a degree in social administration. In 1962, Doc Kelker became the first African American named to the Sports Illustrated Silver Anniversary All-American Team. He was inducted into the Case Western Reserve University Spartan Club Athletic Hall of Fame on October 25, 1975.

Frank (Doc) KelkerDoc was an active member of his community, serving on the Cuyahoga Community College Board of Trustees from 1961 to 1973 and as its president for one term. In 1979, he retired as Director of the Cleveland YMCA. He passed away on June 2, 2003. In 2000, the Doc Kelker Scholarship for minority students was established in his honor at CWRU (see Pledge Drive article). African American Alumni Association President Alicia Graves was one of its first recipients.


The AAAA requests your assistance in identifying other African American Hall of Fame inductees from the names on this link and in nominating other exceptional CWRU African American athletes.

My choice to be inducted to the Hall of Fame next year is Blake Chamberlain, a 1971-1975 receiver blessed with size, good hands, outstanding vertical leap and exceptional speed. This Spartan diplomat led by example and played not for accolades, but for the love of the game. He was respected by teammates and athletic staff alike.

Please join me in nominating one of these alumni athletes, or another distinguished athlete, for the Spartan Club Hall of Fame. Anyone can nominate by completing an official Spartan Club nomination form. The form asks for the player’s (1) Team Accomplishments, (2) Individual Athletic Accomplishments, (3) Campus Activities, (4) Postgraduate Career Information, (5) Updated Educational Data, and (6) Post Graduate Athletic Accomplishments.

For a former athlete to be eligible for inclusion in the Hall of Fame, “a nominee must have graduated at least 10 years prior to the induction year and have earned at least two varsity letters. All nominees that were not CIT, WRU, or CWRU graduates or who did not earn at least two varsity letters will be considered only for Special Category induction” (CWRU Web). Athletes may be elected to the CWRU Spartan Club Hall of Fame posthumously, as Heritage inductees.

Spartan Club Hall of Fame nominations are eligible for receipt year round, however candidate assessments/reviews run until November 1 only. “The Hall of Fame selection committee is comprised of current athletic department members, as well as previous inductees and Spartan Club executives” (Nick Minerd).

This link contains nominating forms, criteria and instructions for submitting nominations.


Reach Back, Raise Up!

Written by Erma Leaphart-Gouch and Mark Smith

The African American Alumni Association recently launched the Reach Back, Raise Up Pledge Drive to benefit the legacy of African American students. This historic and dynamic venture supports several existing CWRU scholarship funds for African American students, including The Michael E. Fisher Endowment Fund and the Doc Kelker Scholarship Fund for undergraduates, and one scholarship fund for each of the graduate schools: The School of Medicine, The Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, The School of Law, The Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, The School of Dental Medicine and Weatherhead School of Management.

Our goal is to raise $500,000 over a five year campaign. This link allows you to donate online to the fund of your choice. Iverson "Buff" Banks-Bey, past president of the AAAA, and current president Alicia Graves were the first to make donations when the website went live on February 23, 2013.

In addition to a financial goal, we strive for participation from all African American alumni and supporters.  We ask for your support in "celebrating the past by investing in the future."

Please reach back to raise up by giving today! Thank you!

Save These Dates!

Saturday, April 6, 2013
Voices of Glory
5:30 p.m.
1919 E. 107th St. Cleveland, OH

Friday, April 12, 2013
OMA Unity Banquet with Wes Moore
7 p.m. 
Executive Caterers at Landerhaven
6111 Landerhaven Dr.
Mayfield Heights, OH

April 19-27, 2013
Tri-C JazzFest

April 25-26
Race Food & Justice Conference
Case Western Reserve University

Alternative Spring Break

Alternative Spring BreakYouth Rebuilding New Orleans

This year’s Alternative Spring Break once again provided many opportunities to serve and learn. On March 8, 2013, participants embarked on a ten-day journey, which included a return to Birmingham and featured a Civil Rights Roundtable, powerful first-person testimony about life in the 1960’s, and a visit to 16th St. Baptist Church on the 50th anniversary of the church bombing that took the lives of four little girls. In addition, the CWRU students, staff, and alumni worked on post-Hurricane Issac restoration projects and engaged in reflective sessions at Fisk and Tulane Universities.


Mosiac tile of photosThe Center for Civic Engagement and Learning thanks the African American Alumni Association for contributing to this life-changing experience.

Upcoming Events

Unity BanquetCWRU’s Voices of Glory spreads the gospel through song and praise on campus and in the community. Don’t miss this diverse group’s spring benefit concert "The Glory," which will begin at 5:30pm on Saturday, April 6, 2013, at University Circle United Methodist Church, 1919 E. 107th St. in Cleveland.

The program features the choir and guest performers and will benefit a local family overwhelmed with medical expenses. A reception and baked goods raffle will follow. Tickets are a $5 in advance and $7 at the door and donations directly to the family will also be accepted. To purchase tickets in advance or receive updates regarding the concert, email

Unity Banquet
The annual Unity Banquet & Scholarship Dinner celebrates the academic accomplishments of underrepresented students and graduating seniors at Case Western Reserve University. The evening also serves as an opportunity to recognize future students and CWRU community partners.

Special Guest: Wes Moore

This year, the Unity Banquet will celebrate its 23rd year on Friday, April 12, 2013. The banquet will be held at the Executive Caterers at Landerhaven. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the program will begin promptly at 7 p.m.

This year's banquet features Rhodes Scholar, White House fellow, best-selling author, youth advocate, Army combat veteran and social entrepreneur, Wes Moore.

Tickets for the Unity Banquet will be available online.

For more details, please visit

What would you like to see highlighted in future newsletters? Your ideas are appreciated. Do you have wedding, graduation, or baby news to share? Contact us at

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