Alpha Phi Alpha: A Brief History

Since its founding on Dec. 4, 1906, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. has supplied voice, vision and advocacy to the struggles of people of color, and specifically African Americans, around the world.

Alpha Phi Alpha is the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established by African Americans and was founded at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. It was founded by seven college men who recognized the need for a strong bond of brotherhood among African descendants in the United States and these visionaries, known affectionately as the “Jewels” of the Fraternity, are: Dr. Henry Arthur Callis, Mr. Charles Henry Chapman, Mr. Eugene Kinckle Jones, Mr. George Biddle Kelley, Mr. Nathaniel Allison Murray, Mr. Robert Harold Ogle, and Mr. Vertner Woodson Tandy.

Early Days

The Fraternity served initially as a social study and support club for minority students who faced both educational and social racial prejudice at Cornell University. The Jewels, along with a few other early leaders of the Fraternity, remedied this problem by laying a firm foundation for what would become Alpha Phi Alpha’s principles of scholarship, fellowship, good character and the uplifting of humanity.

Soon after the founding of the Fraternity at Cornell University, Alpha Phi Alpha chapters were established at many other colleges and universities across the country, many of them not just historically white but historically black institutions. The first alumni chapter of the Fraternity was established in 1911 and, even while Alpha Phi Alpha continued to stress academic excellence among its members, the fraternity early on also recognized the need to help correct the educational, economic, political and social injustices faced by African Americans.

Present Day

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., since 1906, has stood at the forefront of the causes of the African American community. Whether it be the fight for civil rights, business success, entertainment, athletics, or education through leaders such as: W.E.B. DuBois, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., and Edward Brooke, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, and Andrew Young, William Gray, Paul Robeson, and John. H. Johnson, Duke Ellington, and Whitney M. Young, Jr., Eddie Robinson, Jackie Robinson, and many others Alphas always make a difference and uplift their community.  True to its form as the “first of firsts,” Alpha Phi Alpha has been interracial since 1945 and today there are more than 700 chapters located throughout the U.S., Europe, Caribbean, Africa, and Asia.

To learn more about the fraternity, please visit the following webpages:

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. National Website: Link

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Midwestern Region Website: Link