The Fraternity initially served as a study and support group for minority students who faced racial prejudice, both educationally and socially, at Cornell. The Jewels 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.
Soon after the founding at Cornell, Alpha Phi Alpha chapters were established at other colleges and universities, many of them at historically black institutions. The first alumni chapter was established in 1911. While Alpha Phi Alpha continued to stress academic excellence among its members, the fraternity 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. Today there are more than 700 chapters located throughout the U.S., Europe, Caribbean, Africa, and Asia.
To learn more about the Fraternity, please visit the following webpages:
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. National website.
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Western Region website.
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Northern California District website.
The Founders, affectionately known as the Jewels of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., were no ordinary achievers. Given racial attitudes in 1906, their accomplishments were monumental. As founder Henry Arthur Callis euphemistically stated—because the half-dozen African American students at Cornell University during the school year 1904-05 did not return to campus the following year, the incoming students in 1905-06, in founding Alpha Phi Alpha, were determined to bind themselves together to ensure that each would survive in the racially hostile environment.
Below, please find a brief biography of each Founder. For additional information, see the Cornell University Centennial Exhibit.