Alpha Lambda Boule Salutes James

Robert E. James (seated) surrounded by other members of Alpha Lambda Boule.
Robert E. James (seated) surrounded by other members of Alpha Lambda Boule.

On Sunday, January 25, 2009, the men of Alpha Lambda Boule of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Inc. paid tribute to Robert E. James in recognition of his being selected by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Observance Day Association as a Marshal for the 2009 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade in Savannah. James is one of the community leaders who, led by Reverend Bennie R. Mitchell, Jr. in 1979, began the effort to persuade the local elected officials to recognize Dr. King’s Birthday as an official holiday. This was prior to the legislation being signed into law on November 2, 1983 establishing the third Monday in January as a national holiday in honor of Dr. King.

James, a native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, has been President of Carver State Bank of Savannah, Georgia, since December 1, 1971. He holds the distinction of being the African- American with the longest tenure of service as President of a commercial bank in America. During 1978, he served as Chairman of the National Bankers Association, the trade organizations representing the America’s minority-owned banks. The bankers elected him to a second term as Chairman in 1990.

James has been a Director of numerous local and national organizations. Currently, he is a Director and treasurer of both the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce and Step Up Savannah, the community’s poverty reduction initiative. He is also a Director of the Savannah Economic Development Authority and a Trustee of St. Philip African Methodist Episcopal Church.

In addition to Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, James is a life member of the NAACP and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He is also a member of The Frogs Club, Inc. of Savannah. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Morris Brown College, Atlanta, Georgia and the Master in Business Administration degree from Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts. James has earned many citations for his civic and professional accomplishments, including being named one of the Five Outstanding Young Men in Georgia by the Georgia Jaycees (1975) and one of the 100 Most Influential Black Americans by Ebony Magazine (1978). At the June 1990 Commencement, he received the Savannah State University President’s Award. During 2003, the National Bankers Association presented him with its Distinguished Service Award. The bankers association again honored him in 2007 with the E. Boyle Mitchell, Sr. Service Award. He received the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum Legacy Award during 2004, and during February 2005, he was the recipient of the Georgia Minority Business CEO Diversity Award.

James and his wife, Shirley, are parents of one adult son, Robert, II, and two adult daughters, Anne Camille and Rachelle James Gregory.

Established in 1904, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity is considered by many as the most prestigious organization of African American men in the world. The national fraternity is known as the Grand Boule, and individual members are called “Archons.” In addition to sponsoring high quality social activities for the Archons and their families and friends, the Fraternity provides college scholarships through the Boule Foundation, and is involved in numerous social action projects. The Grand Boule theme for the 2008 – 2010 Biennium is “Boule Men Doing Great Things!”

Chartered in 1963, Alpha Lambda Boule of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity includes members from the Savannah and the Hilton Head areas. Mayor Otis Johnson is Sire Archon (President) of Alpha Lambda. James is the Grammateus (Executive Secretary).

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