About Our history,The 7 Jewels,Our Poems

A brief overview on the most important history of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.


This historical overview consists of the history on the fraternity, a short biography on each of the seven Jewels, and a few poems.

7 Jewels

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. was founded on December 4th, 1906 at Cornell University by the seven Jewels.

Henry Arthur Callis

After leaving Cornell University, Henry Arthur Callis became a practicing physician, Howard University Professor of Medicine and prolific contributor to medical journals. Often regarded as the “philosopher of the founders,” and a moving force in the Fraternity’s development, he was the only one of the “Cornell Seven” to become General President. Prior to moving to Washington, D.C., he was a medical consultant to the Veterans Hospital in Tuskegee, Alabama. Upon his death in 1974, at age 87, the Fraternity entered a time without any living Jewels. His papers were donated to Howard’s Moorland-Springarn Research Center.


Charles Henry Chapman entered higher education and eventually became Professor of Agriculture at what is now Florida A&M University. A university funeral was held with considerable Fraternity participation when he became the first Jewel to enter Omega Chapter in 1934. Described as “a Brother beloved in the bonds,” Chapman was a founder of FAMU’s Beta Nu Chapter. During the organization stages of Alpha Chapter, he was the first chairman of the Committees on Initiation and Organization.


Eugene Kinckle Jones became the first Executive Secretary of the National Urban League and served for many years (1911-1951). His tenure with the Urban League thus far has exceeded those of all his successors in office. A versatile leader, he organized the first three Fraternity chapters that branched out from Cornell—Beta at Howard, Gamma at Virginia Union and the original Delta at the University of Toronto in Canada. In addition to becoming Alpha Chapter’s second President and joining with Callis in creating the Fraternity name, Jones was a member of the first Committees on Constitution and Organization and helped write the Fraternity ritual. Jones also has the distinction of being one of the first initiates as well as an original founder. His status as a founder was not finally established until the 38th General Convention in 1952. He died in 1954.


George Biddle Kelley became the first African American engineer registered in the state of New York. Not only was he the strongest proponent of the Fraternity idea among the organization’s founders, the civil engineering student also became Alpha Chapter’s first President. He served as the chairman of the first Ritual Committee and served on committees that worked out the handshake and ritual. He is credited with naming the Fraternity. Kelley was popular with the Brotherhood. He resided in Troy, New York and was active with Beta Pi Lambda Chapter in Albany. He died in 1963.


Nathaniel Allison Murray pursued graduate work after completing his undergraduate studies at Cornell. He later returned home to Washington, D.C., where he taught in public schools. Much of his career was spent at Armstrong Vocational High School in the District of Columbia. He was a member of Alpha Chapter’s first Committee on Organization of the New Fraternal Group, as well as the Committee on the Grip. He was a charter member of Washington’s Mu Lambda Chapter and a frequent attendee of General Conventions. He died in 1959.


Robert Harold Ogle entered the secretarial field and had the unique privilege of serving as a professional staff member to the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations. He was an African American pioneer in his Capitol Hill position. He proposed the Fraternity’s colors and was Alpha Chapter’s first secretary. Ogle joined Kelley in working out the first ritual and later became a charter member of Washington’s Mu Lambda Chapter. He died in 1936.


Vertner Woodson Tandy became the state of New York’s first registered architect, with offices on Broadway in New York City. The designer of the Fraternity pin holds the distinction of being the first African American to pass the military commissioning examination and was commissioned First Lieutenant in the 15th Infantry of the New York State National Guard. He was Alpha Chapter’s first treasurer and took the initiative to incorporate the Fraternity. Among the buildings designed by the highly talented architect is Saint Phillips Episcopal Church in New York City. He died in 1949, at age 64.

Become An Alpha


A collection of the fraternity’s most favored and learned poems.


Mr. William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me, Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud,
Under the bludgeoning of chance My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.

Test of a Man

Author Unknown
The test of a man is the fight that he makes, The grit that he daily shows.
The way he stands upon his feet, And takes life's numerous bumps and blows.
A coward can smile when there's naught to fear,
And nothing his progress bars.
But it takes a man to stand and cheer,
While the other fellow stars.

It isn't the victory after all,
But the fight that a Brother makes. A man when driven against the wall
still stands erect and takes the blows of fate with his head held high, bleeding, bruised and pale
Is the man who will win and fate defied, For he isn't afraid to fail.


Sir Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too.
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies.
Or being hated don't give way to hating, And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise.

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master,
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim.
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
And treat those two impostors just the same.

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken,
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools.

If you can make one heap of all your winnings,
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss.
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss.

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew,
To serve your turn long after they are gone.
And so hold on when there is nothing in you,
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch.
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much.

If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it.
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!

Don't Quit

Author Unknown
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill.
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.

When care is pressing you down a bit, Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns, As every one of us sometimes learns.
And many a failure turns about, When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow -- You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than, It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up, When he might have captured the victor's cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down, How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out -- The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,

And you never can tell how close you are, It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit -- It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

Pepperdine University

24255 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90263