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Alpha Legacy: A Brief History

Since its founding on December 4, 1906, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated has supplied voice and vision to the struggle of African-Americans and people of color around the world.

Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African-Americans, was founded at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York by seven college men who recognized the need for a strong bond of Brotherhood among African descendants in this country. The 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.

The Fraternity initially served as a study and support group for minority students who faced racial prejudice, both educationally and socially, at Cornell. The Jewel founders and early leaders of the Fraternity succeeded in laying a firm foundation for Alpha Phi Alpha's principles of scholarship, fellowship, good character, and the uplifting of humanity.

Alpha Phi Alpha chapters were developed at other colleges and universities, many of them historically black institutions, soon after the founding at Cornell. While continuing to stress academic excellence among its members, Alpha also recognized the need to help correct the educational, economic, political, and social injustices faced by African-Americans.

Alpha Phi Alpha has long stood at the forefront of the African-American community's fight for civil rights through leaders such as: W.E.B. DuBois, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Edward Brooke, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Andrew Young, William Gray, Paul Robeson, and many others.

 

The History of Alpha Pi Lambda Chapter, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

As the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity entered its 25th year of existence, expansion of the fraternity had become a major topic of discussion and the general feeling of the Brotherhood was that the fraternity was expanding too fast and that caution in establishing new chapters should be observed at all costs. Owing to this sentiment, there were no undergraduate chapters organized during the year 1931. However, in spite of this sentiment, one graduate chapter was granted permission to organize that year. That chapter was Alpha Pi Lambda Chapter at Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Prior to the year 1931, a chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity did not exist in the city of Winston-Salem due primarily to the small number of Brothers who lived and worked in the city. Those few Brothers, when possible, would travel some 26 miles to Greensboro to participate in that chapter's activities. By mid-1931, the number of Alphamen in the city of Winston-Salem had increased sufficiently to warrant petitioning the National Organization to grant the establishment of a chapter in the city. In total, there were 10 Brothers who expressed a desire to become charter members of the new chapter.

Brother Charles Green, who was the Southern Vice President at that time, would have been the representative of the National Organization, but due to prior commitments he was not available to perform the chartering ceremony for the new chapter. The National President, Brother B. Andrew Rose, then designated Brother Marshall Lorenzo Shepard, a Baptist Minister from Philadelphia and a member of Rho Chapter, to represent the National Organization. It had been determined that Brother Shepard had been invited to deliver the Baccalaureate Sermon at the Winston-Salem Teachers College on Sunday, May 31, 1931. Brother Shepard, a graduate of Winston-Salem Teachers College, was well known among the Brothers of Alpha, having been a noted convention speaker since the early days of Alpha and also having the reputation of being one of the outstanding clergymen of the times. Based upon this information, it was decided that following the Baccalaureate Sermon, Brother Shepard would carry out the duty of chartering the new chapter in Winston-Salem.

As was the custom of the day, a great number of black citizens, as well as the leadership of the community and the city of Winston-Salem were in attendance at the Baccalaureate Services of the Winston-Salem Teachers College on Sunday, May 31, 1931. An enormous crowd of over 1,000 persons had assembled to hear Dr. Shepard's sermon that day. The Baccalaureate Service commenced at 11:00 AM at the Columbian Heights High School, located adjacent the campus of Winston-Salem State Teachers College. Brother Shepard's sermon was well received by those in attendance.

Later that evening, the Brothers traveled approximately two and one-half miles to the newly built Simon G. Atkins High School, named for the founder of what is now Winston-Salem State University. The new high school had been dedicated on April 2, 1931 and erected for the unprecedented cost of $400,000. Brother John A. Carter was its first principal. The school still stands to this day at 1200 North Cameron Avenue in Winston-Salem. The Brothers assembled in the Home Economics Training Room of the new high school. At 6:30 PM, Brother Shepard called the meeting to order and with the assistance of Brother Alphonso Henenburg, a professor at Tuskegee Institute and a member of Alpha Nu Lambda Chapter and Brother J. Brown Jeffries, Jr., a native of Winston-Salem and a member of Alpha Zeta Chapter at West Virginia State College, conducted the chartering ceremony and installed the newly elected officers of Alpha Pi Lambda Chapter. Although the actual chartering ceremony took place on Sunday, May 31, 1931, the official date of chartering of Alpha Pi Lambda Chapter is listed in the Alpha History as Monday, June 1, 1931. Alpha Pi Lambda became the 37th graduate chapter chartered by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and the third oldest graduate chapter formed in the state of North Carolina.

The first elected officers of Alpha Pi Lambda were: Brother John A. Carter, President; Brother E. Shepard Wright, Secretary; and Brother Leander Hill, Treasurer. The other charter members were: Brother Albert H. Anderson, Brother Charles E. Colter, Brother William A. Smith, Brother George F. Newell, Brother Candin R. Robinson, Brother John Talmadge Long and Brother Ottis T. Hogue. Among the other business transacted that evening was the designation of the medical offices of Brother E. Shepard Wright, in downtown Winston-Salem, as the site of future monthly meetings.

The festivities following the chartering ceremony were held in the same room at the high school. There was a meal consisting of chicken salad, crackers and punch. Amidst the warm conversation and fellowship that followed, the brothers enjoyed cigars and cigarettes that had been donated possibly by Brother Robinson, who was an employee of the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. The fellowship continued until approximately 10 o'clock that evening.

The charter members of Alpha Pi Lambda were all outstanding men in their respective professions as well as leaders in the community.

Brother Albert Homer Anderson, Jr., a native of Wilmington, Delaware, was a graduate of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and received his Masters of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He was initiated into Alpha at Nu Chapter. Brother Anderson was a classmate of Brother Thurgood Marshall while at Lincoln University. He began his career in Education in 1929 and at the time of the chartering of Alpha Pi Lambda, he was the principal of the Columbian Heights Elementary School. He later became the principal of Kimberly Park Elementary School, John W. Paisley High School and then Simon G. Atkins High School. Brother Anderson served as President of the North Carolina Negro Teachers Association and conducted workshops for principals at Winston-Salem Teachers College and North Carolina College for Negroes. He was extremely active in the Boy Scouts, the Urban League and YMCA. He was awarded the Silver Beaver Award, the highest honor bestowed on adults by the Boy Scouts of America. Albert H. Anderson High School was named in his honor. The high school was later purchased by Winston-Salem State University and is now called the Albert H. Anderson Cultural Center.

Brother John A. Carter, the first President of Alpha Pi Lambda was a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was the first principal of Simon G. Atkins High School and served in that capacity for over thirty years. Brother Carter was well known as a competent administrator and a strict disciplinarian during his tenure as principal. Brother Carter was also a member of the Negro Chamber of Commerce, an organization of black professionals and businessmen that had been established for the purpose of pursuing equal civil rights and business opportunities for blacks in Winston-Salem.

 

Brother Charles E. Colter was a teacher at the Simon G. Atkins School under the principalship of Brother Carter. Nothing is known of Brother Colter following his leaving Winston-Salem.

Brother Leander Hill, the first Treasurer of Alpha Pi Lambda, was the owner and operator of the Rex and Lincoln Theaters in downtown Winston-Salem. He was also a member of the Negro Chamber of Commerce. Brother Hill later became the owner and operator of a real estate and insurance agency bearing his name. He was very active in the community, having served on the Rations Board, the Civil Defense Board, the Forsyth County Board of Equalization and Review, the Forsyth County Draft Board, the Winston-Salem Community Chest (now known as United Way) and the Urban League. Brother Hill was made into Alpha at Beta Chapter, Howard University in Washington, DC. Brother Hill passed to Omega Chapter on Wednesday, May 5, 1985.

Brother Ottis T. Hogue was also a teacher at Simon G. Atkins High School. He came to Winston-Salem following his graduation from Wilberforce University and Atlanta University, where he received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees respectively in Foreign Languages. Brother Hogue also attended Knoxville College prior to attending Wilberforce. It is not known whether Brother Hogue was made into Alpha at Wilberforce University, Atlanta University or Knoxville College. Brother Hogue left Winston-Salem to accept a teaching position in the city of Knoxville, Tennessee. He served there as a teacher at Green Elementary School, a teacher and principal at Vine Junior High School, the principal at Austin High School and later became a supervisor within the Knoxville City School System. Brother Hogue passed to Omega Chapter on July 27, 1985, just three months after the death of Brother Leander Hill. Surely, these two charter members of Alpha Pi Lambda enjoyed a joyous reunion as they were inducted into Omega Chapter.

Brother John Talmadge Long was also a teacher at Simon G. Atkins High School. As with Brother Colter, nothing is known of Brother Long following his leaving Winston-Salem.

Brother Candin R. Robinson was employed by the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. In what capacity he was employed is not known. Brother Robinson was reported to be one of the largest black landowners in Winston-Salem. Nothing is known of Brother Robinson following the chartering ceremony.

Brother Enos Shepard Wright, the first Secretary of Alpha Pi Lambda, was a pioneer Physician in Winston-Salem, specializing in the practice of Family Medicine. His office was located in downtown Winston-Salem. He was originally from New Haven, Connecticut and received his Doctor of Medicine degree from Howard University. Brother Wright was made into Alpha at Beta Chapter Howard University, in Washington DC.

Brother William A. Smith was also a teacher at Simon G. Atkins High School. Nothing is known of Brother Smith following the chartering ceremony.

Brother George Fisher Newell was a teacher of science at Simon G. Atkins High School. A graduate of Johnson C. Smith University, Brother Newell was made into Alpha at Alpha Omicron Chapter in 1925. Brother Newell received his Masters of Science degree from Indiana University. Brother Newell later relocated to Raleigh, North Carolina where he taught at the Washington High School and the Ligon High School. Brother Newell then took a position as Director of Youth Programs at the Butler Street YMCA in Atlanta, Georgia. He later returned to Winston-Salem to become an Associate Professor of Physical Science at Winston-Salem Teachers College. Brother Newell also completed his training as a Field Scout Executive with the Boy Scouts of America and became the first African American Boy Scout Troop Leader in the city of Winston-Salem. At the time of his retirement from Winston-Salem State University, he was the Dean of Men. Brother Newell served on the Board of Directors of Mechanics and Farmers Bank and the Experiment in Self-Reliance. He also served on the North Carolina Human Relations Commission. Brother Newell was the last known charter member of Alpha Pi Lambda to pass on to Omega Chapter. He had the distinction of being continuously registered as an Alphaman for 64 years. He continued to play a very important and active role in Alpha Pi Lambda, serving as both Chapter Historian and Chaplain until the time of his death. Brother Newell passed on to Omega Chapter in October 11, 1989.

Chapter history compiled by Brother Harold T. Brown