Alpha Phi Alpha: A Brief History
Since its founding on Dec. 4, 1906, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. has supplied voice and vision to the struggle of African Americans and people of color around the world.
Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established by African Americans, was founded at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York by seven college men who recognized the need for a strong bond of brotherhood among African descendants in the United States. The visionary founders, known as the “Jewels” of the Fraternity, are: Henry Arthur Callis, Charles Henry Chapman, Eugene Kinckle Jones, George Biddle Kelley, Nathaniel Allison Murray, Robert Harold Ogle, and Vertner Woodson Tandy.
The Fraternity initially served as a study and support group for minority students who faced racial prejudice, both educationally and socially, at Cornell. The Jewels and early leaders of the Fraternity succeeded in laying a firm foundation for Alpha Phi Alpha’s principles of scholarship, fellowship, good character and the uplifting of humanity.
Soon after the founding at Cornell, Alpha Phi Alpha chapters were established at other colleges and universities, many of them at historically black institutions. The first alumni chapter was established in 1911. While Alpha Phi Alpha continued to stress academic excellence among its members, the fraternity also recognized the need to help correct the educational, economic, political and social injustices faced by African Americans.
Alpha Phi Alpha has long stood at the forefront of the African American community’s fight for civil rights through leaders such as: W.E.B. DuBois, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Edward Brooke, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Andrew Young, William Gray, Paul Robeson, and many others. True to its form as the “first of firsts,” Alpha Phi Alpha has been interracial since 1945. 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: