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 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.


Beginning around 1942, there was an increasing interest in fraternities and sororities amongst the student body at Hampton Institute. In 1945, the movement to gain recognition for these brotherhoods and sisterhoods gained momentum when the Student Council polled student faculty, and administrative opinions on the matter. Up to that time, fraternities and sororities had been only a principal topic for discussion.

After the poll, the results were announced. The University community was favorable to the idea. In compliance with the policy of the institute, as approved by the national organizations, rushing, and pledging, shall take place in the second semester only and the period for probation and initiation shall begin during the first week in December.

An exception was made for school year 1946-47, and the first initiations by the new charter groups were permitted in the spring. Following this decision, Brother William B. Proctor, Jr. and Brother Lloyd J. Stark, who had come to Hampton to continue their studies, aided Eastern Regional Vice-President Brother L. H. Schuster in the inception of the seventy-fifth chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, and on Sunday, February 9, 1947, Gamma Iota was born.