Kappa Alpha Psi, One Of The Oldest Black Fraternities, Celebrates 100 Years

Jan 5, 2011

Kappa Alpha Psi, one of the nation's oldest black fraternities, turns 100 today.

January 5th marks their annual celebration of Founder's Day, which commemorates the 10 men who first conceived the organization in 1911. KAPsi was officially chartered and incorporated under the state of Indiana as Kappa Alpha Nu on May 15 of the same year. The name was changed to its present form in 1914.

"This is a milestone that is certainly worth celebrating," said Richard Lee Snow, the fraternity's executive director and chief operating officer, told the Philadelphia Daily News. "Since 1911 this organization has initiated over 150,000 members including some of the foremost citizens of this country, and we have remained steadfast to our principle of 'achievement in every field of human endeavor.' "

The Indiana University frat was the first of its kind, and aimed to combat racial discrimination from the start, focusing largely on achievement. The founders, which include notables Elder Watson Diggs (often referred to as "The Dreamer") and Byron K. Armstrong, aimed for national expansion from the start, according to the fraternity's website.

In 1911, black students were all but shunned from the university, forced to sit in hallways to hear lectures, and not allowed to even sit next to white peers.The perhaps miraculous founding of AKPsi came at a time when black students weren't even allowed to congregate in public, writes the Philadelphia Daily News.

Now the fraternity boasts 364 chapters on college campuses nationwide, as well as alumni chapters in 347 cities in the United States and 5 other countries, including Germany and South Africa.

Wilt Chamberlain, Johnnie Cochran, and Arthur Ashe were all Kappas. KAPsi has also produced a number of notable figures in entertainment, including Cedric the Entertainer and Tavis Smiley. The national fraternity has produced politicians, educators, and athletes.



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