Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity for African-American men, was founded at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., 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.

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.

Alpha Phi Alpha chapters were established at other institutions, many of them at historically black colleges and universities, 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 Martin Luther King Jr., W.E.B. DuBois, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Edward Brooke, 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 Dec. 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.


In 1988, while assigned to Fort McPherson, Ga., Bro. Silas Christian noticed there were several Alpha men stationed on the military installation. Most of them were not active with a local chapter. Because Bro. Christian had been instrumental in chartering other chapters, he asked the military brothers if they would be interested in establishing a chapter on Fort McPherson. After several interest meetings with current military personnel, retired military personnel and civilian brothers, it was decided to pursue the possibility of chartering an Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. chapter on the military installation.

Bro. Christian and the other brothers petitioned the Alpha leadership for a charter to be located at Fort McPherson, Ga., after receiving permission from the installation commander. Bro. Henry Ponder was the General President at that time. Pi Gamma Lambda was chartered Fri., Jan. 6, 1989, at Fort McPherson Installation. Keeping with the true spirit of the fraternity, Pi Gamma Lambda provides outstanding leadership, scholarship and programs for the betterment of the Clayton County community. A total of 116 men have been initiated into Pi Gamma Lambda since its chartering.

On Jan. 15, 2009, as part of the 20th Anniversary celebration kickoff, Pi Gamma Lambda became the first to donate and deed the chapter’s historical papers, pictures and artifacts to the Auburn Avenue African American Research Library in Atlanta.

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