A Brief History of
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the first intercollegiate Greek letter fraternity established for black students, was organized at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, on Tuesday, December 4, 1906. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity was born out of the desire for maintaining close association and unified support for members of this small minority group. It started as a small social study club that originally met at 421 North Albany Street, Ithaca, NY. The prejudices of the time, even at a relatively liberal institution such as Cornell, placed an extra burden on black students. Furthermore, Blacks were denied, for the most part, the mutual helpfulness which the majority of the students attending Cornell University regularly enjoyed. The first unit of the Fraternity that was established was called Alpha Chapter. From Alpha Chapter the Fraternity spread to other college campuses. The Fraternity was incorporated on January 29, 1908.

With an infinite vision of an organization encompassing the ideals of scholarship, manly deeds, and love for all mankind, our seven founders, whom we respectfully call the "Jewels," aspired to bring forth a fraternity dedicated to social purpose and social action. Currently, Alpha Phi Alpha continues to grow and push for these ideals with such nationally mandated programs as "Project Alpha," "Go To High School, Go To College," "A Voteless People Is A Hopeless People," and others, which are maintained on both the undergraduate and graduate level as well.

The Seven visionary founders, or "Jewels", of the Alpha Chapter are:

Jewel Henry Arthur Callis, MD
Jewel Charles Henry Chapman
Jewel Eugene Kinckle Jones
Jewel George Biddle Kelley
Jewel Nathanial Allison Murray
Jewel Robert Harold Ogle
Jewel Vertner Woodson Tandy

These men labored in the years of severe economic times and racial conflict in the United States. Despite their difficulties of organization, the early fraternity pioneers succeeded in laying a firm foundation and remained steadfast in their goals pointing toward development of the fraternity membership-that is espousing the principles of good character, sound scholarship, fellowship, and uplifting of humanity, especially in the struggling Black community in the United States.

The fraternity has grown steadily in influence throughout the years. It has been interracial since 1945 and has expanded tremendously to the extent that there are now approximately 800 chapters located throughout the United States, Caribbean Islands, Africa, West Indies, Europe, and Asia. Some of the more prominent sons of Alpha include the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., W.E.B. DuBois, Paul Robeson, Dick Gregory, John Hope Franklin, Thurgood Marshall, Mayor David Dinkins, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., United States Vice President Hubert Humphrey, John H. Johnson, Duke Ellington, and Jesse Owens.

Last updated on July 25, 1998
Desmond Peters Jr.