Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. (Kappa), a predominately African American Greek-letter fraternity, was founded on January 5, 1911 on the campus of Indiana University. It is the first black Greek-letter organization founded west of the Appalachian Mountains. The fraternity, originally called Kappa Alpha Nu, was established by ten black men partly to provide an alternative to the racially exclusive student organizations on campus and partly to strengthen the bonds of friendship among these and other African American students. A second chapter was established at the University of Illinois in 1912 and by 1921 there were chapters throughout the Midwest, the East, and one in the South. Today the fraternity has over 700 undergraduate and alumni chapters in every state of the United States as well as chapters in the United Kingdom, Germany, South Korea, Japan, the Caribbean, and South Africa. The total membership of the fraternity exceeds 150,000.
The fraternity has had many notable members including former Los Angeles Mayor Thomas Bradley, librarian Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, CBS newscaster Ed Bradley, radio personality Tavis Smiley, composer William Grant Still, entertainer Kevin Eubanks, Robert S. Abbott, founder of the Chicago Defender, Michigan Congressman John Conyers, and Washington, D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty.
Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity supports a variety of community service programs including Habitat for Humanity, St. Jude Research Hospital, and the United Negro College Fund. It also sponsors a number of initiatives designed to encourage scholarship and leadership skills among high school youth including the Kappa League which began in 1970 to help high school students develop their leadership skills, the Junior Kappa League for younger students, the A-MAN Program which promotes interest in science and technology, and Kappa Kamp, an outdoor educational enrichment program which allows inner city kids to attend a summer camp in Piney Woods, Mississippi and Hemlock Overlook Park in Virginia. The camp fosters team building, self respect, and respect for others through leadership sessions, outdoor obstacle courses, and outdoor activities. This camp, which accommodates 50 young men at a time between the ages of ten to fifteen, is designed to provide guidance and encourage success.
The Kappa Alpha Psi Foundation, established in 1981, is the philanthropic division of the fraternity. It raises funds which are distributed to young people as scholarships and which support after-school programs.
William L. Crump, The Story of Kappa Alpha Psi: A History of the Beginning and Development of a College Greek Letter Organization, 1911-1991 (Philadelphia: Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, 1991); Daniel Soyer, "Fraternities and Sororities," Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (New York: Macmillan Library Reference, 1996); Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated, 2002, http://www.afkapsi.com/History.html.
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