Fraternity History

Fraternity History

Founded on December 4, 1906 at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. is the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity in the United States for men of African descent.  The fraternity was founded by  seven visionaries, affectionately referred to as The Seven Jewels, who recognized the need for a stronger bond of Brotherhood between African American men achieving a higher education.

Initially, the fraternity served as a study and support group for minority students who faced racial prejudice solely on the campus of Cornell University. 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.

Alpha Phi Alpha chapters were established at other colleges and universities, many of them historically black institutions, soon after the founding at Cornell. The first college chapter was established in 1907 and first alumni chapter was in 1911. While continuing to stress academic excellence among its members, Alpha 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.

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.


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