Black History

#BlackHistoryFacts for January 5: Kappa Alpha Psi is founded

In 1911 Kappa Alpha Psi, the largest black fraternity, was founded at Indiana University. Like most organizations founded by black people, Kappa Alpha Psi was founded in an era of American history that was dipped in the dirty sauce of racism.

The state of Indiana became the 19th U.S. state of the Union. Kappa Alpha Psi was founded four years later. It was founded at a college that did not tolerate the integration or assimilation of black people. The administration kept a mentality of racism. Black students made up less than 1% of the student population. Black students were also barred from many activities, making their college experience very difficult. Black students were not allowed to live in on-campus dormitories, were denied use of campus facilities. They were also denied the right to participate in any contact sports. The only sport that they were allowed to participate in was Track & Field.

Elder Watson Diggs and Byron Kenneth Armstrong were two men who came together and started it all. They had previously attended an HBCU, Howard University located in Washington, D.C. While at Howard, they befriended men who were members of a Greek letter fraternity. It was their experience at Howard that helped lay the foundation for a Greek-letter organization at Indiana University.

Soon, more men followed and joined Watson and Armstrong. The sole purpose was to start a fraternity. A total of eight men are credited as founders of Kappa Alpha Psi:  Elder Watson Diggs, Byron K. Armstrong, John M. Lee, Henry T. Asher, Marcus P. Blakemore, Guy L. Grant, Paul W. Caine, George W. Edmonds, Ezra D. Alexander and Edward G. Irvin.

The fraternity they found was given a temporary name of Alpha Omega before being changed to Kappa Alpha Psi on January 5, 1911. Kappa Alpha Psi had 5 objectives. One of the objectives was “To promote the spiritual, social, intellectual and moral welfare of members.”

Kappa Alpha Psi is home to many members who symbolize the achievement in every field of human life. Members include: Wilt Chamberlain (former NBA player), Cedric the Entertainer (actor/comedian), Montell Jordan (singer), Bill Russell (former NBA player), Johnnie Cochran (lawyer), Colin Kaepernick (former NFL player) to name a few.

Source: Kappa Alpha Psi website – About

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