Fraternity History

Kappa Alpha Psi, a college Fraternity, now comprised of functioning Undergraduate and Alumni Chapters on major campuses and in cities throughout the country, is the crystallization of a dream come true. It is the beautiful realization of a vision shared commonly by the late Revered Founders Elder Watson Diggs, John Milton Lee, Byron K. Armstrong, Guy Levis Grant, Ezra D. Alexander, Henry T. Asher, Marcus P. Blakemore, Paul W. Caine, Edward G. Irvin and George W. Edmonds. It was the vision of these astute men that enabled them in the school year 1910 – 11, more specifically the night of January 5, 1911, on the campus of Indiana University at Bloomington, Indiana, to sow the seed of a fraternal tree whose fruit is available to, and now enjoyed by, college men everywhere, regardless of their color, religion or national origin. It is a fact of which Kappa Alpha Psi is justly proud that the Constitution has never contained any clause which either excluded or suggested the exclusion of a man from membership merely because of his color, creed, or national origin.The Constitution of Kappa Alpha Psi is predicated upon, and dedicated to, the principles of achievement through a truly democratic Fraternity.

Chartered and incorporated originally under the laws of the State of Indiana as Kappa Alpha Nu on May 15, 1911, the name was changed to Kappa Alpha Psi on a resolution offered and adopted at the Grand Chapter in December 1914. This change became effective April 15, 1915, on a proclamation by the then Grand Polemarch, Elder Watson Diggs. With achievement as its purpose Kappa Alpha Psi began uniting college men of culture, patriotism and honor in a bond of fraternity. As the fraternity’s undergraduate and graduate chapters multiplied the Fraternity started “Guide Right,” the fraternity’s national social mentoring program. The program now provides role models and mentors for youth in communities throughout the nation. The fraternity has over 105,000 members with 600 undergraduate and alumni chapters in every state of the United States and international chapters in the United Kingdom, Germany, Korea, Japan, the West Indies and South Africa. The Fraternity is the first NPHC member to have been incorporated as a national body documented by the Kappa Alpha Psi Mid West Provinces Newsletter.

The fraternity sponsors programs providing community service, social welfare and academic scholarship through the Kappa Alpha Psi Foundation and is a supporter of the United Negro College Fund and Habitat for Humanity. Kappa Alpha Psi is a member of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) and the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC). Despite being the only NPHC fraternity to have never extended honorary memberships to any individuals regardless of rank in society Kappa Alpha Psi has still attracted numerous distinguished individuals. Notable political actors from Kappa Alpha Psi include Mayor Thomas Bradley, Mayor W. Wilson Goode, Congressman Bennie Thompson, and current NAACP President Benjamin Jealous. Notable brothers who have exceled in law and business include Attorney Johnnie Cochran, Attorney Percy Sutton, Judge James Parsons, and BET Founder Robert Johnson. Notable entertainers and civil rights leaders from Kappa Alpha Psi include John Singleton, Cedric the Entertainer, Tavis Smiley, Montell Jordan, Harry Bellafonte and Dr. Ralph Abernathy. Brothers who have exceled athletically include Arthur Ashe, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Penny Hardaway, and Mike Tomlin. Brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi continue to achieve in every field of human endeavor daily.

Kappa Alpha Psi


The men who founded Kappa Alpha Psi, and were dedicated to the principles of achievement through a truly democratic fraternity are:

The founders endeavored to establish the fraternity with a strong foundation before embarking on plans of expansion. By the end of the first year, the ritual was completed and a design for the coat of arms and motto had begun.

The fraternity may have begun in 1903 on the Indiana University campus, but there were too few registrants to assure continuing organization. In that year a club was formed called Alpha Kappa Nu, but the club disappeared after a short time. There is no record of any similar organization at Indiana until the fraternity was founded as Kappa Alpha Nu on the night of January 5, 1911 by ten African-American college students.

During this time there were very few African-American students at the predominately white campus at Bloomington, Indiana and they were a small minority due to the era of Jim Crow laws. Many African-American students rarely saw each other on campus and were discouraged or prohibited from attending student functions and extra-curricular activities by white college administrators and fellow students. African-American students were denied membership on athletic teams with the exception of track and field. The racial prejudice and discrimination encountered by the founders strengthened their bond of friendship and growing interest in starting a social group. From the beginning, the founders’ goal was to create a fraternity founded on Christian ideals and for the purpose of achievement regardless of a person’s race or social class.

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