There are nine historically Black Greek Letter organizations that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council, often collectively referred to as “The Divine Nine.”
In honor of Black History Month, The Gadsden County Times will feature each of “The Divine Nine.”
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity is the oldest intercollegiate historically African American fraternity.
Initially a literary and social studies club organized in the 1905–1906 school year at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
The organization later evolved into a fraternity officially founded by seven college students on December 4, 1906.
The seven 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.
Alpha Phi Alpha in has many prominent members like civil rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and writer and historian W.E.B. Dubois.
Gadsden County’s own Dr. Lessal D. Lefall, who was President of the American College of Surgeons was also a member.
Local leaders such as Gadsden County Commissioner Eric Hinson and Former Gadsden County Commissioner Anthony Viegbesie, are also among its membership.
Alpha Phi Alpha’s mission statement says the fraternity develops leaders, promotes brotherhood and academic excellence, while providing service and advocacy for their communities.
Proof of that mission statement can be seen in Gadsden County through the local chapter’s acts of community service.
Alpha Phi Alpha Pi Psi Lambda Chapter President Octavius Jackson said their 21 active members in the local chapter.
Based in Quincy, the Pi Psi Lambda Chapter provides guidance to teenage boys in grades 6-11 through its A-Team Mentoring program, teaching them leadership skills, and even life skills such as correctly tying a tie.
Every November, the Pi Psi Lambda chapter celebrated the Thanksgiving season by providing meals to families throughout the community.
During the Christmas season, they provide gifts for economically disadvantaged and disabled children in Gadsden County.
Alpha Phi Alpha is the only black male Greek letter organization with a chapter in Gadsden County.
The local chapter was founded in 1994 with Charter members Joe Lewis, Don White, Melvin Lumpkin, and Roderick Palmer
“All of the men that I saw growing up were alphas, when I went to college that’s what I identified with,” Jackson said.
Through Project Alpha the local chapter hosts workshops teaching boys and young men about sex education, peer pressure, and other issues plaguing society.
Every August, the Pi Psi Lambda partners with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority to host a bookbag and schools supply giveaway, Jackson said.
The fraternity also partners with the county to host the black history parade and festival every February, where they acknowledge trailblazers in the community.
Erin Hill – Gadsden County News Service