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The History of Alpha Phi Alpha

          Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for black students, was organized at Cornell University in 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 14850. 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 many other college campuses. The Fraternity was incorporated on January 29, 1908.

          With an infinite vision of an organization of leaders encompassing the ideals of Manly Deeds, Scholarship, and Love for All Mankind, seven visionary founders, whom we respectfully call the "Jewels," aspired to bring forth a fraternity dedicated to social purpose and social action.

The Seven Visionary Founders, or " Jewels ", 
of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. are:


Jewel Henry Arthur Callis, MD
Jewel Charles Henry Chapman
Jewel Eugene Kinckle Jones
Jewel George Biddle Kelley
Jewel Nathaniel 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 organizational difficulties, the early Fraternity pioneers succeeded in laying a firm foundation and remained steadfast in their goals pointing toward the 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.

          Currently, Alpha Phi Alpha continues to grow and push for these ideas with nationally mandated programs such as "Project Alpha," "Go To High School, Go To College,"  "A Voteless People Is A Hopeless People," and many others, which are maintained on both the undergraduate and graduate level as well.  The Fraternity has grown steadily in influence throughout the years.  It has expanded tremendously to the extent that there are now approximately 800 chapters located throughout the United States, the 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. Du Bois, Paul Robeson, Dick Gregory, John Hope Franklin,  Thurgood Marshall, David Dinkins, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., John H. Johnson,  Duke Ellington, and Jesse Owens.  The Brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. continue to Uphold The Light Of Alpha 100 years later.

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