Alpha Phi Alpha
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.
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.
The JEWELS of Alpha Phi Alpha
Eugene Kinckle Jones
Became the first executive secretary of the National Urban League. His 20-year tenure with the Urban League thus far has exceeded those of all his successors in office. A versatile leader, he organized the first three fraternity chapters that branched out from Cornell—Beta at Howard, Gamma at Virginia Union University, and the original Delta at the University of Toronto in Canada.
Charles Henry Chapman
Entered higher education and eventually became Professor of Agriculture at what is now Florida A&M University. A university funeral was held with considerable fraternity participation when he became the first Jewel to enter Omega Chapter in 1934. Described as “a brother beloved in the bonds,” Chapman was a founder of FAMU’s Beta Nu Chapter.
George Biddle Kelley
Became the first African-American engineer registered in the state of New York. Not only was he the strongest proponent of the fraternity idea among the organization’s founders, the civil engineering student also became Alpha Chapter’s first president. In addition, he served on committees that worked out the handshake and ritual.
Henry Arthur Callis
Became a practicing physician, Howard University Professor of Medicine and prolific contributor to medical journals. Often regarded as the “philosopher of the founders” and a moving force in the Fraternity’s development, he was the only one of the “Cornell Seven” to become general president.
Nathaniel Allison Murray
Pursued graduate work after completing his undergraduate studies at Howard. He later returned home to Washington, D.C., where he taught in public schools. Much of his career was spent at Armstrong Vocational High School in the District of Columbia.
Robert Harold Ogle
Entered the career secretarial field and had the unique privilege of serving as a professional staff member to the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations. He was an African-American pioneer in his Capitol Hill position. He proposed the fraternity’s colors and was Alpha Chapter’s first secretary.
VERTNER WOODSON TANDY
Became the state of New York’s first registered black architect, with offices on Broadway in New York City. The designer of the fraternity pin holds the distinction of being the first African American to pass the military commissioning examination and was commissioned first lieutenant in the 15th Infantry of the New York State National Guard. He was Alpha Chapter’s first treasurer and took the initiative to incorporate the fraternity. Among the buildings designed by the highly talented architect is Saint Phillips Episcopal Church in New York City. He died in 1949 at age 64.
Alpha Eta Lambda Chapter History
Feb 9, 2017
1927 - Alpha Eta Lambda established @ PVAMU
Alpha Eta Lambda was established November 27, 1927, in Prairie View, Texas, for the many college instructors at Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) who were Alpha Men. Alpha Eta Lambda (AEL) served the college trained men of Prairie View and Houston who matriculated to colleges around the country, became Alpha men, and eventually returned to Texas.
Feb 9, 2017
1932 - First Undergraduate chapter in Texas
Alpha Sigma, the first undergraduate chapter in Texas, was established at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. Many of the early members of AEL were graduates of Wiley College. Alpha Eta Lambda was established to serve brothers who desired to maintain a fraternal bond and to fellowship with like-minded individuals. The chapter met in alternate months between Houston and Prairie View. Early chapter presidents were John E. Codwell, Sr. and Dr. Edward Evans, president of PVAMU.
Feb 9, 2017
1952 - Epsilon Tau Lambda chartered in Hempstead, Texas
In 1952, Epsilon Tau Lambda Chapter was chartered in Hempstead, Texas. The new chapter near Prairie View allowed AEL to be permanently located in Houston. At the time, the Texas A&M University system did not allow Greek letter organizations on their campuses. Therefore, PVAMU had to relinquish ties to AEL.
Feb 9, 2017
1952 - Alpha Eta Lambda finds a home in Houston, Tx
Alpha Eta Lambda finds a new home in Houston. Ultimately, the brotherhood purchases a home near downtown Houston to serve as the fraternity house. The fraternity house serves as a monument to Alpha Eta Lambda's growth and resilience.
Feb 9, 2017
2001 - Bro. Harry E. Johnson serves as 31st General President
Chapter Bro. Harry Johnson is a career lawyer, entrepreneur and public servant. From 2001 to 2004, he served as General President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, the fraternity to which Dr. King belonged. While serving in this role, Johnson oversaw over 700 chapters located throughout the United States and abroad enhancing the national image of the organization with fraternity members, business leaders and political officials.
Feb 9, 2017
2011 - Bro. Harry E. Johnson leads the construction and opening on the MLK Memorial in Washignton, D.C.
Johnson led the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King Memorial Foundation as President and CEO from 2002 until 2013. The President of the United States and the U.S. Congress charged the MLK Foundation with erecting a memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Under Johnson’s leadership, the MLK Memorial Foundation raised $127 million to complete the memorial; positioned three boards (Executive Leadership Cabinet, Governing Board and Honorary Board) for the foundation; and garnered support from all living U.S. Presidents, Congress, members of the corporate and nonprofit communities, and celebrities. The memorial dedication was held on October 16, 2011, with the President, Vice President, members of the cabinet, congressional members and others in attendance.
Feb 9, 2017
2016 - Bro. Sylvester Turner elected as Mayor of Houston, Tx
Mayor Sylvester Turner serves as the Executive Officer of the City. As the City's chief administrator and official representative, the Mayor is responsible for the general management of the City and for seeing that all laws and ordinances are enforced. Administrative duties include the appointments, with Council approval, of department heads and persons serving on advisory boards.