In 1908, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority became America's first Greek-letter organization established by Black college women. Her roots date back to Howard University, Washington, D.C., where the idea for formation was conceived by Ethel Hedgeman Lyle of St. Louis, Missouri. She viewed the Sorority as an instrument for enriching the social and intellectual aspects of college life by providing mental stimulation through interaction with friends and associates. The nine Howard University students who were led by Ethel Hedgeman Lyle into a sisterhood in 1908, Nellie Quander and her gallant group who contributed the added dimension of a national organization and perpetual membership, and those who have come after them, the never-ending stream of eternally young, hopeful enthusiastic women, must be remembered.
The Original Group: Marjorie Hill, Lucy D. Slowe, Lillie Burke, Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, Anna E. Brown, Marie Woolfolk Taylor, Beulah E. Burke, Margaret Flagg Holmes, and Lavinia Norman.The Sophomores of 1908: Norma Boyd, Ethel J. Mowbray, Alice P. Murray, Sarah M. Nutter, Joanna B. Shields, Carrie E. Snowden, and Harriett J. Terry.The Incorporators: Norma Boyd, Julia E. Brooks, Ethel Jones Mowbray, Nellie M. Quander, Nellie Pratt Russell, and Minnie B. Smith. Through the years, however, Alpha Kappa Alpha's function has become more complex. After her incorporation as a perpetual body in 1913, Alpha Kappa Alpha gradually branched out and became the channel through which selected college-trained women improved the socioeconomic conditions in their city, state, nation, and the world.
In a world in which materialism is pervasive, and technology and competition have decreased the need for collaboration and cooperation, it is critical to have an association that cuts across racial, international, physical, and social barriers to help individuals and communities develop and maintain constructive relationships with others. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is that vital organization.
Alpha Kappa Alpha is a sisterhood composed of women who have consciously chosen this affiliation as a means of self-fulfillment through volunteer service. Alpha Kappa Alpha cultivates and encourages high scholastic and ethical standards; promotes unity and friendship among college women; alleviates problems concerning girls and women; maintains a progressive interest in college life; and serves all mankind through a nucleus of more than 170,000 women in the United States, the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa.
Candidacy for membership into Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is open to women of high ethical and scholastic standards who are pursuing or have completed courses leading to a degree in an accredited college or university. Our official headquarters is in Chicago, Illinois.
Then on May 8, 1918 the Iota Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha was chartered on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. It was founded by seven young women, Gaynell Wright Barksdale, Jane Curtis M.D., Carlene Davis, Helen Talbot Franklin, Marjorie Tansimore Harris, Edna Stratton Franklin, and Norine Webster-Taylor. With the assistance of Dr. W. Roderick Brown for the clarification of procedure in forming a new chapter, they wrote to Dean Lucy D. Slowe at Howard University for instructions which were immediately forwarded and followed. The prerequisites for becoming a woman of Alpha Kappa Alpha were laid down by the original chapter as: 1. true sincere sisterhood, 2. high moral standards and 3. excellent scholastic achievement. Dr. Brown also paired each of the founding sorors with a member of the Omicron chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. at the University of Pittsburgh to serve as "big brothers" to the Iota Sorors.
Iota Chapter has strived to set standards for young women on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh throughout her 85 years by demonstrating leadership, scholastic excellence, along with compassion and grace. Today the sorors of Iota Chapter work very hard to maintain these standards by continually raising the bar in academics, service, and sisterhood.
Famous AKA's Throughout History
Maya Angelou - first African-American poet to read at a presidential inauguration, Pulitzer Prize winning poet, award winning novelist and honored in Fifty Black Women Who Changed America.
Ella Fitzgerald - Internationally famous classical jazz artist, named outstanding performer of the year for eighteen consecutive years by Downbeat Magazine, the jazz industry bible and honored in Fifty Black Women Who Changed America.
Dr. Mae Jemison first African-American woman astronaut.
Star Jones - co-host of The View talk show, lawyer, former legal analyst for Inside Edition, Today and Nightly News.
Coretta Scott King - activist and director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Social Change and Civil Rights Activism and founder of The National Political Congress of Black Women, Inc.
Bebe More Campbell - author of Brothers and Sisters and Your Blues ain't Like Mine.
Toni Morrison - author of Pulitzer Prize winning Beloved, first African-American to receive a Nobel Prize in Literature and honored in Fifty Black Women Who Changed America.
Rosa Parks - mother of the Civil Rights Movement and honored in Fifty Black Women Who Changed America.
Jada Pinkett-Smith - accomplished actress whose movies include Set it Off, Menace to Society, and Jason's Lyric.
Phylicia Rashad - actress staring on the award winning Cosby Show and Cosby television series.
Alice Walker - Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Color Purple, Civil Rights Activist, poet, and honored in Fifty Black Women Who Changed America Lynn Whitfield, humanitarian and actress staring in The Josephine Baker Story, Thin Line Between Love and Hate, and Eve's Bayou.
Sonia Sanchez - author and poet.
Eleanor Roosevelt - activist and wife of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Jomarie Payton Noble - humanitarian and actress, star of Family Matters.
Leah Tutu - wife of South African activist Bishop Desmond Tutu.