First Black fraternity, founded at Cornell, celebrates 115 years

"Hiding within the walls of the gray, condemned house at 421 N. Albany St. is an important piece of history. The house was the original home of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first-ever Black fraternity, founded on Dec. 4, 1906 at Cornell University. The seven founders, now 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. What began as a literary and social club on N Albany Street evolved into a fraternity shortly after.

Now, 115 years later, there are 730 active chapters across the Americas, Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and Asia. Some of its most famous alumni include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass, Thurgood Marshall, W. E. B. Dubois, Duke Ellington and Jesse Owens."

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The Alpha Phi Alpha Centennial Memorial bench outside Barnes Hall.