Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority was founded at Howard University in 1908 and became America’s first sorority founded by African-American women.
In 1906, a group of African-American men at Cornell University came together to find Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the first black Greek letter organization (BGLO) in the United States.
No such organization for African-American college women had existed before. However, in 1908, a small group of women set out to organize such a group, which later became known as Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
History of Alpha Kappa Alpha
Alpha Kappa Alpha was founded by nine women at Howard University in Washington, D.C., on January 15, 1908.
However, eight of the nine founding members were seniors, so in order to continue the organization, seven sophomore honor students were granted membership without initiation in 1909. The first Alpha Kappa Alpha initiation was held in Miner Hall at Howard University on Februay 11, 1909.
The group at Howard University continued to grow, but did not expand beyond Howard’s campus. In October of 1912, twenty-two women were initiated into the sorority, but the women were disappointed with the organizational structure of the sorority and wanted to change many of the sorority’s emblems, social activities, and make the sorority more politically-oriented. After attempts to stop the reorganization of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the twenty-two women left the organization and created Delta Sigma Theta Sorority on January 13, 1913.
Alpha Kappa Alpha, realizing the need to establish permanence, received its national articles of incorporation on January 29, 1913, as a non-profit organization. In the fall of the following year, a second chapter was installed at the University of Chicago in 1914.
On May 30, 1930, representatives from Alpha Kappa Alpha, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority met at Howard University and created the National Pan-hellenic Council (NPHC,) the umbrella organization for America’s nine historically African-American sororities and fraternities.
Notable Alpha Kappa Alphas
Prominent women in areas such as politics, education, the sciences, and other fields may be offered honorary membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha, which is the sorority’s highest honor given to non-members. Some of the women holding honorary membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha include women of all races and ethnic backgrounds:
- Michelle Obama
- Eleanor Roosevelt
- Jane Addams, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize
- Maya Angelou
- Ella Fitzgerald
Worldwide, Alpha Kappa Alpha boasts more than 950 collegiate, alumnae, and community chapters in the United States, Canada, Germany, Japan, the Bahamas, Liberia, Jamaica, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Bermuda, and South Korea.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Today
Today, membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha is open to women of all races and ethnic backgrounds at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Alpha Kappa Alpha supports various social initiatives and community-based projects, such as the Educational Advancement Foundation (EAF,) Ivy Acres Retirement Center, Ivy Reading AKAdemy reading initiative, Partnerships in Mathematics and Science (P.I.M.S.,) and the Young Authors Program.
Alpha Kappa Alpha, like many fraternal organizations, can be identified through various distinct insignia adopted throughout the organization’s history:
- Colors: salmon pink and apple green
- Symbol: ivy leaf
- Flower: pink tea rose
- Social Initiatives / Philanthropies: Educational Advancement Foundation, Ivy Acres Retirement Center, Ivy Reading AKAdemy, Partnerships in Mathematics and Science, and the Young Authors Program
- Motto: By Culture and By Merit
Founded in 1908, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority became the first sorority to be founded for and by African-American college women. Today, Alpha Kappa Alpha provides the same kinds of fellowship and community service opportunities to its members of all kinds across the world.