Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated, was founded January 5, 1911, on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. However, to fully understand and appreciate the magnitude of Kappa Alpha Psi and the significance of January 5, 1911, you have to examine it in its historical context. Doing that, one will realize that the Fraternity is more than just a group of college “guys” getting together on a campus and hanging out. Further, one will also find that the history of Kappa Alpha Psi is more than the history of the Fraternity or that of Indiana University, even; it is a part of the history of America, and the world beyond.
Consider the year 1911:
- It is only eight years removed from W.E.B. Dubois’ book, "The Souls of Black Folk", in which Dubois stated that the problem of the 20th Century would be the problem of the color line (i.e. racial tension).
- It is less than fifteen years removed from the Supreme Court case, Plessy v. Ferguson, which stipulated the rule “Separate, But Equal,” which in turn allowed for whites to segregate themselves from other racial groups.
- This is during the time of great African-Americans like Dubois, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells, and just prior to the advent of Marcus Garvey and the his Back to Africa Movement.
- It is not even 50 years removed from the Civil War and slavery. Consider the fact that there were thousands of African-Americans living who had been slaves!
- During this time, most African-Americans were not only uneducated; most could not read, and could remember a time when literacy meant that you could be killed because you were considered a dangerous person, a threat.
When we consider these and other circumstances of the timeframe surrounding the year 1911, we realize its significance. Furthermore, consider that Indiana University is a white university, where, during that time, a black student on campus could go weeks without seeing another black student. It was on this campus, during this time, under the leadership of the Most Illustrious Elder Watson Diggs, to whom we affectionately refer as “The Dreamer", that he and our other Illustrious Founders Ezra D. Alexander, Byron K. Armstrong, Henry T. Asher, Marcus Peter Blakemore, Paul Waymond Caine, George W. Edmonds, Guy Levis Grant, Edward Giles Irvin, and John Milton Lee stood on the shoulders of their predecessors and took up the mission of uniting and strengthening blacks’ voices at Indiana University.
Since 1911, Kappa Alpha Psi has grown and continues to achieve despite setbacks and circumstance. Excelling under various sorts of pressure, our Noble Klan has maintained its Fundamental Purpose of Achievement in Every Field of Human Endeavor, and is a front-runner among social organizations with its noble and bold history. It is not just the history of Kappa's, but also the history of black people all over the world on predominantly white campuses whose voices would have otherwise been muted.
Memphis Alumni History
The Memphis Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated has a long-standing history with not only Kappa Alpha Psi, but with the Memphis community. From mentoring and tutoring young children to giving out holiday gift baskets to collaborating with other community service organizations, Memphis Alumni Chapter has made itself felt as a presence in the city of Memphis. It is the goal of the Brothers of Memphis Alumni to follow in the footsteps of our Founders on the path to Achievement in Every Field of Human Endeavor so that no major decision regarding the Memphis community is made without the involvement of Kappa.
The Brothers of Memphis Alumni realize that to reach the mountaintops of greatness, one has to travel through the valleys of hard work and sacrifice. It is only because of those who have come before us that we are able to boast of the heights we have achieved; for it is on their shoulders we stand. Memphis Alumni Chapter was chartered on September 24, 1934, under the leadership of Henry E. Oates, Polemarch, and I. A. Gentry, Keeper of Records. Other Charter Members included Henry Amos, Homer D. Coke, E. W. Weed, I. J. Graham, A. K. Davis, Richard Oates, Edward Lattimer, and R. J. Roddy.