ALPHA KAPPA ALPHA HISTORY
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. 8 other college senior women joined Lyle in forming the organization. These included, Anna Easter Brown, Beulah Elizabeth Burke, Lillie E. Burke, Marjorie Hill, Margaret Flagg Holmes, Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, Lavinia Norman, Lucy Diggs Slowe and Marie Wookfolk Taylor. The "Original 9" were joined by 7 sophomores to ensure the continuity of the organization. Among them were, Joanna Berry Shields, Norma Elizabeth Boyd, Ethel Jones Mowbray, Sarah Meriwhether Nutter, Alice Porter Murray, Carrie E. Snowden and Harriet Josephine Terry. 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 180,000 women in the United States, the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa. There are more than 940 undergraduate and graduate chapters with global headquarters located in Chicago, Illinois. Its membership includes high-profile women from all walks of life and disciplines, including astronaut-physician Dr. Mae Jemison, poet Maya Angelou, actress Phylicia Rashad, entertainer Gladys Knight, entrepreneur Suzanne de Passe, Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson, educator Ruth Simmons, President of Brown University, and political leaders Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Sheila Jackson Lee, Juanita Millender-McDonald and Diane Watson.
As one of the nation’s premier service organizations, in the past three years alone, the sorority has provided more than 4 million hours of services and $22 million to support service projects across the country and abroad benefiting more than 18.6 million people.
Alpha Kappa Alpha's mission is to cultivate and encourage high scholastic and ethical standards, to promote unity and friendship among college women, to study and help alleviate problems concerning girls and women in order to improve their social stature, to maintain a progressive interest in college life, and to be of "Service to All Mankind."
The young collegian's commitment to scholarship, leadership, civic engagement and public service, woven together by the bonds of lifelong sisterhood, formed the bedrock of the rich legacy of servant-leadership that epitomizes the sorority to this day.
The service programs of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. are consistently centered around significant issues that affect society. This tradition of service in social activism continues to characterize the sorority and its members in their respective communities and the global community at-large.