Alpha History

The History of Alpha Phi Alpha

Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African American Men, 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.

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.

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 alumni chapter was established 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.

Membership

Becoming An Alpha

Alpha Phi Alpha recognizes two types of Fraternity membership: College Brothers and Alumni Brothers. An aspirant may apply for membership either into a College Chapter as an undergraduate student in good standing at a fully accredited college or university, or into an Alumni Chapter as a graduate who has earned a Degree from a fully accredited college or university. College aspirants must attend a college or university where there is a viable college chapter and meet the fraternity’s minimum GPA requirement (2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale), as well as the school’s requirements. Alumni aspirants must apply to a chapter that is within 60 miles of their current home address.

More than 175,000 men have joined the ranks of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated since the organizations founding in 1906. The Fraternity is international with local chapters located throughout the United States, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia (Korea & Japan). The organization has been interracial since 1945.

Become An Alpha

If you’re interested in membership in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., please visit our national website by clicking here and contact our Membership Chair.​​