The Founding of Alpha Phi Alpha
Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African American Men, was founded at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York 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 Jewel founders 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 colleges and universities, many of them historically black institutions, 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 W.E.B. DuBois, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Edward Brooke, Martin Luther King, Jr., 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 December 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.
The History of Alpha Sigma Lambda
Alpha Sigma Lambda was founded on Saturday November 5, 1932 in Dallas, Texas and is the second oldest Graduate Alpha Chapter in Texas. It was founded by Brothers; Dr. Herman I. Holland Sr., Robert L. Prince, Sr., James White, Sr., Dr. Hugh Key, C.P. Johnson, James R. Edmonds, Roy A. Lay, and Roy Dixon.
All but one were educators at some point in their lives. Among their accolades, Dr. Herman I. Holland, Sr. has a DISD school named for him and James R. Edmonds coached Lincoln High School to a State Championship. C.P. Johnson subsequently moved to Austin where he was a founding member of the Gamma Eta Lambda Chapter and eventually moved to Seattle and became Western Region Vice-President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Alpha Sigma Lambda Chapter was in the forefront of the formation and/or leadership of several Civil Rights and Social/Fraternal organizations in Dallas and the State, including the NAACP, Dallas Urban League, the Progressive Voters League, Dallas Negro Chamber of Commerce, and the Moorland Branch YMCA. Several Brothers were also early members of the Knights of Pythias.
Alpha Sigma Lambda is home of the 17th General President of the Fraternity in the personage of Brother Antonio Maceo Smith who, was the first General President from the State of Texas. Brother Smith was also the first African American Federal Employee in Dallas, having worked for the Federal Housing Administration. Known locally during that time as “ Mr. Civil Rights, he risked all, including his livelihood and possible Federal prosecution, for his passion for Civil Rights. There is a Federal Building in Downtown Dallas named for him as well as a Dallas High School.
Alpha Sigma Lambda Chapter was influential in the founding of both the Texas Council of Alpha Chapters and the Southwest Region of the Fraternity. Three of the six Founders of TCAC were Alpha Sigma Lambda Brothers: Earnest Wallace, Chapter Founder James White, Sr., and Victor “Amarillo” Smith. Another chapter Founder, Roy A. Lay, was instrumental in the early organization of TCAC. Brother Smith became the Second TCAC Director, and Brother Roosevelt Johnson was the Fifth.
In 1964, Brothers Earnest Wallace and CC Russeau founded a mentoring program called Alpha Merit. The original group comprised 85 young men from the five African American High Schools in Dallas at the time. It was the first mentoring program by any Black Greek Letter Organization and was eventually adopted by our National Organization and is the basis for our “Go to High School, Go to College” Program It was copied by other BGOL’s locally and Nationally. Since its inception, Alpha Merit has awarded more than $75,000 in scholarships to college bound black males.
Alpha Sigma Lambda is home to many legendary Dallas educators. There are currently eight Dallas area schools named for Alpha Sigma Lambda Brothers: A Maceo Smith New Tech High School, H I Holland Elementary School at Lisbon, Thomas Tolbert Elementary School, John Leslie Patton, Jr. Education Center, Zan Wesley Holmes Elementary School, David Daniels Elementary Academy of Math and Science in Grand Prairie, Dr. Wright W. Lassiter, Jr. Early College High School at El Centro College (Dr. Lassiter is also President of El Centro), and Billie Earl Dade Middle School ( the shining fortress of education right down the street from our Fraternity House). In addition, there is a Dallas ISD Administration Building named for Past Chapter President Dr. H.B. Bell, who was an Assistant DISD Superintendent.
Currently Alpha Sigma Lambda enjoys local partnerships with The Martin Luther King Center, where we are co-sponsors of the MLK Candlelight Vigil yearly, the African American Museum, where we co-sponsor the Monday Night Politics series, Shared Housing of Dallas, whom we support for Thanksgiving and Christmas Giveaways, Blair Elementary School, and A Maceo Smith High School. We also participate in the Fraternity’s Nationally mandated partnerships and programs including Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America, March for the Babies, Boy Scouts of America, Brothers Keeper, Project Alpha, and Go to High School, Go to College.
In 2006, the Fraternity’s Centennial Year, and 2007, The Chapter’s 75th year, ASL was named National Alumni Chapter of the Year. In addition to Programs and Alpha Merit, Inc., the third entity of the ASL is Alpha 7, Incorporated, composed of Brothers of the Chapter who own this property. ASL is the only Alpha Chapter that owns its meeting location. Prior to purchasing this property, ASL owned a Fraternity House for many years on Good-Latimer Expressway. Today, ASL continues to lead the charge in Community Service in the Dallas area.