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Gamma Phi Lambda's Rich History in the San Francisco Bay Area

In 1947 in Berkeley, California, 17 visionary men of various backgrounds and professions saw a need to bring their beloved Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. to the eastern region of the San Francisco Bay Area. With the support of the national organization, on April 12th of that year, the Gamma Phi Lambda chapter was chartered.


Since its inception, the chapter and its members have provided programs focused on educational empowerment; supported various causes to uplift the community to achieve higher social, economic, and intellectual status; and have shaped the moments of the day. In 1948, charter member William Byron Rumford, a pharmacist, became the first African American from Northern California elected to the state assembly in a district that included much of Berkeley and parts of Oakland. Brother Rumford would go on to author two of California’s most consequential civil rights laws – the Fair Employment Practices Act of 1959 and the Rumford Fair Housing Act of 1963. In 1967, several chapter members met with esteemed Alpha Phi Alpha Brother Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during his visit to Berkeley to discuss his vision for the nonviolent civil rights movement and how the chapter could become more involved.


Over the years, the chapter has worked to fulfill the mission of Alpha Phi Alpha by investing in the ambition of its members and the youth in the community. Since the 1970s, the chapter has provided numerous scholarships to college-bound students through its Education Foundation and chapter members regularly mentor young men through its Alpha Academy and the Leadership, Technology, and Innovation program. The chapter has always answered the call to serve Alpha Phi Alpha, and its members have held leadership positions at all levels of the fraternity. Most notably, in 2012, chapter Brother Aaron Crutison, Sr., who was at the time serving as the fraternity’s Western Region Vice President, was appointed Acting General President of Alpha Phi Alpha and dutifully led the fraternity through a period of organizational change. In recognition of its work throughout the years, the chapter has received several commendations and awards. Most recently, the chapter was named the 2017 Alumni Chapter of the Year for Alpha Phi Alpha’s Western Region.


Charter Members

William Anderson, M.D.

Fowler Beckford

George Byers

C. Toland Draper

Isaac Fletcher

A. J. Franklin

Charles Furlow

James Hatchett

Leland Hawkins

John Jackson

Harold Jones

William Pittman, D.D.S.

John Price

Joshua Rose

William Byron Rumford

Rudolph Smith

J. Oscar Williams, Sr.


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First Chapter Officers

CHARTER OFFICERS OF GAMMA PHI LAMBDA—The light of Alpha Phi Alpha is glowing brighter on the West Coast with the establishment of another graduate chapter, Gamma Phi Lambda, Berkeley, California. Authorized during the last convention at Columbus, Ohio, Western Vice-President A. Maceo Smith, of Dallas, Texas, deputized Brother Dewey D. Davidson, of Los Angeles, California, to proceed with ceremonies for setting up the chapter. 


Charter officers from the chapter, (left to right), seated, are: E.M. Swisher, Editor to the Sphinx; W. Byron Rumford, Vice President; Dr. William R. Pittman, President; Harold Jones, Recording Secretary; Dr. A.O. Newman, Chaplain.


Standing: J. Oscar Williams, Financial Secretary; Attorney Walter Gordon, Parliamentarian; Issac Fletcher, Sergeant-at-Arms; Dewey Davidson, Regional Director, C. Toland Draper, Corresponding Secretary; A. Jackson Franklin, Treasurer; Dr. Guy Ginn, Custodian.

-- Reprinted from the May 1947 edition of The Sphinx Magazine

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