Kappa Alpha Psi bestows highest award to TSU Alumnus
2013 Konklave held in Houston, TX

Last updated on October 3rd, 2014 at 04:53 pm

Alvin Crawford, M.D., was bestowed the Laurel Wreath award—the fraternity’s highest award for a member’s achievement in service to the fraternity or in human endeavors, national or international. photo: University of Cincinnati

Alvin Crawford, M.D., was bestowed the Laurel Wreath award—the fraternity’s highest award for a member’s achievement in service to the fraternity or in human endeavors, national or international. photo: University of Cincinnati

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. held its biennial Grand Chapter meeting, affectionately known as the Kappa Konklave, in Houston, Texas on Aug. 6. At the meeting, Alvin Crawford, M.D., was awarded the Laurel Wreath award—the fraternity’s highest award for a member’s achievement in service to the fraternity or in human endeavors, national or international.

Crawford marched in TSU’s famed Aristocrat of Bands marching band in the late 1950s along with fellow Konklave attendee John Green, who was there among dozens of Nashvillians in Houston. Kappa Alpha Psi is a predominantly African American fraternity with over 105,000 members. It has only awarded the Laurel Wreath to 71 members since its founding at Indiana University in Bloomington in 1911.

“Since my induction in 1959, the principles of Kappa Alpha Psi have guided me, never knowing that I would someday be awarded this great honor for which I will hold sacred until the day of my death,” said Crawford, a professor emeritus of pediatric orthopedic surgery in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine. Crawford is considered one of the nation’s foremost authorities on video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, which allows surgeons to insert rods through small incisions to straighten the spine.

In his address to an audience of approximately 3,500 Kappa members, Crawford recalled how, as an undergraduate member of the Alpha Theta chapter of the fraternity at Tennessee State University in 1959, he was fascinated by the achievements of past Laurel Wreath honorees. He spoke about how he began to incorporate those characteristics and attributes into his own life’s work. He then became the first African American admitted to the University of Tennessee’s medical college, graduating in 1964.

“He was so smart. He was brilliant,” recalled Green. “He was a clarinet player and keeps his mouthpiece with him” speaking of the man who played alongside him at the Konklave in the musical ensemble led by fellow Alpha Theta initiate Leonard Morton, Sr. “He’s humble and he still loves to play. He was a music major and his older brother Bubba Crawford was an all-American quarterback.” So the younger Crawford excelled in music and academics to move out of his older sibling’s shadow.

In his acceptance speech he also identified his mission as a Laurel Wreath holder as two-fold: 1) to assist with ways to increase the number of African American physicians in the health care ranks and 2) to encourage African American men to be culturally sensitive to women through language and deeds.

“I have made achievement a lifestyle and not a goal,” he said of the numerous other honors and awards he has received, including the Daniel Drake Medal from the UC College of Medicine (its highest academic honor) in 2006, the Diversity award from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons in 2007, and the Trumpet award in 2009. The significance of this award, he noted, was that it remains in perpetuity “to hopefully inspire African Americans as well as others to do well and join the ranks of an organization that honors high achievers.”

Crawford’s charitable contributions to society extend to providing orthopedic care to underserved children around the world, especially those with clubfoot and severe spinal deformities. Crawford is the founding director of the Crawford Spine Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 2004. He is also an attending physician with UC Health Orthopedics & Sports Medicine.