Alpha Phi Alpha
December 4, 1906 -
Alpha Phi Alpha is the oldest Black Greek-letter college fraternity. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. was founded in 1906 at Cornell University. Their initial goal was to provide an opportunity for Black men to 'establish strong bonds of brotherhood.'
Alphas have seven founding members, fondly referred to as “Jewels.” Those seven Jewel founders started a fraternity and a lifelong partnership among its members that is more important than history could ever record. Those seven Jewell founders include: Henry Arthur Callis, Charles Henry Chapman, Eugene Kinckle Jones, George Biddle Kelley, Nathaniel Allison Murray, Robert Harold Ogle, and Vertner Woodson Tandy.
Like most organizations established via Black enterprise, Alphas fought for Civil Rights and the protection of people of color. They were one of the first fraternities to integrate, doing so decades before the Civil Rights Act - Alphas have been interracial since 1945.
College fraternities are institutions typically reserved for wealthy white male legacies of alums. With exorbitant dues, college fraternities generally operate as exclusive, rowdy, privileged country clubs. Alphas started with an entirely different vision. Their goal was to create a support group for marginalized students of color and ensure these students had a safe place to study. Among Alpha Phi Alpha's notable alums is Thurgood Marshall, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and W.E.B. DuBois.
Unlike fraternities that seek seclusion or proactively discriminate against applicants, Alphas find ways to welcome new applicants into their brotherhood. According to Alpha Phi Alpha, "Since its founding on December 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."