Alpha History

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.

Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for 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 this country. 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.

Born out of a desire to promote close association and mutual support among the small population of African-American males who were college students at the turn of the century, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. has provided leadership, development and community service training to men for nearly a century. The Fraternity initially served as a study and support group for minority students who faced racial prejudice, both educationally and socially, at Cornell. The Jewel founders 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. Thanks largely to its visionary founders and dedicated early leaders, the Fraternity has become the most prestigious organization of its kind in existence today.

The certificate of incorporation for the organization was filed and recorded in the office of the Secretary of the State of New York as Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. on January 29, 1908. The Fraternity was again incorporated on April 3, 1912, under the laws of the District of Columbia. The purpose and object of the Fraternity was declared to be “educational and for the mutual uplift of its members.”

The constitution, adopted on December 14, 1907, provided that following the establishment of the fourth chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, the general organization of the Fraternity would be set. Alpha Phi Alpha chapters were developed at other colleges and universities, many of them historically black institutions, soon after the founding at Cornell.

The Fraternity's national programs date back to 1919, when Alpha Phi Alpha introduced its “Go-to-High School, Go-to-College” campaign to increase the education level of the African American community. Alpha Phi Alpha later took the lead in the voting rights struggle for African Americans and coined the nationally famous phrase: “A Voteless People is a Hopeless People” as part of its effort to register black voters. The slogan remains the battle cry today for Alpha voter registration efforts.

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.

More than 175,000 men have joined the ranks of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc, since the organization’s founding in 1906. The Fraternity is international with local chapters located throughout the United States, District of Columbia, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and Africa. Today, Alpha Phi Alpha continues its commitment to the African American community through the Fraternity's Education and Building foundations which provide scholarships to outstanding students and shelter to underprivileged families. The Fraternity also has dedicated itself to training a new generation of leaders with national mentoring programs and partnerships designed to ensure the success of our children and youth.

Fraternity Mission Statement: The objectives of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. are to stimulate the ambition of its members; to prepare them for the greatest usefulness in the cause of humanity, freedom, and dignity of the individual; to encourage the highest and noblest form of manhood; and to aid downtrodden humanity in its efforts to achieve higher social, economic, and intellectual status.

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