National History

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for Black college students, was organized at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, in 1906. The prejudices of the time, even at a relatively liberal institution such as Cornell, placed an extra burden on minority students. The first unit of this national fraternity, organized by college men of African descent, was called “Alpha Chapter.”

The seven visionary founders at Cornell, Henry Arthur Callis, Charles Henry Chapman, Eugene Kinckle Jones, George Biddle Kelley, Nathaniel Allison Murray, Robert Harold Ogle and Vertner Woodson Tandy, labored in years of severe economic struggle and racial conflict in the United States. Despite their difficulties of organization in this untried field of student life, the early fraternity pioneers succeeded in laying a firm foundation and remained steadfast in their goals.

The Fraternity initially served as a study and support group for minority students who faced racial prejudice educationally and socially at Cornell. During those beginning days, the Jewel founders and early leaders of the Fraternity worked to lay a solid foundation based on scholarship, fellowship, good character and the uplifting of humanity.

The Fraternity has grown steadily in influence throughout the years. 200,000 men have been initiated into Alpha Phi Alpha since its founding in 1906. It has been interracial since 1945. There are now 350 college chapters on campuses, and 350 alumni chapters in local communities, located in 44 states, the District of Columbia, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and Africa.