Kappa Alpha Psi was founded on the campus of Indiana University on January 5, 1911. The Fraternity’s fundamental purpose is “achievement”.
Early in the 20th century, African-American students were actively dissuaded from attending college. Formidable obstacles were erected to prevent the few who were enrolled from assimilating into co-curricular campus life. This ostracism characterized Indiana University in 1911, thus causing Elder Watson Diggs, Ezra Dee Alexander, Byron K. Armstrong, Henry T. Asher, Marcus P. Blakemore, Paul W. Caine, George W. Edmonds, Guy L. Grant, Edward G. Irvin and John Milton Lee to form Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, which remains the only Greek letter organization with its Alpha chapter on the university’s campus.
It was the vision of these astute men that enabled them in the school year 1910-11, more specifically the night of January 5, 1911, on the campus of Indiana University at Bloomington, Indiana, to sow the seed of a fraternal tree whose fruit is available to, and now enjoyed by, college men everywhere, regardless of their color, religion or national origin. It is a fact of which Kappa Alpha Psi is justly proud that the Constitution has never contained any clause which either excluded or suggested the exclusion of a man from membership merely because of his color, creed, or national origin. The Constitution of Kappa Alpha Psi is predicated upon, and dedicated to, the principles of achievement through a truly democratic Fraternity.
Chartered and incorporated originally under the laws of the State of Indiana as Kappa Alpha Nu on May 15, 1911, the name was changed to Kappa Alpha Psi on a resolution offered and adopted at the Grand Chapter in December 1914. This change became effective April 15, 1915, on a proclamation by the then Grand Polemarch, Elder Watson Diggs. Thus, the name acquired a distinctive Greek letter symbol and Kappa Alpha Psi thereby became a Greek letter Fraternity in every sense of the designation.
From its inception, every endeavor was directed toward establishing the Fraternity upon a strong foundation before embarking on plans of expansion. By the end of the first year, working together, Diggs and Armstrong had completed the ritual and had commenced work on the coat of arms. Work on the latter was completed during the following summer by Diggs, Armstrong and Lee while they were pursuing employment at a hotel in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
In selecting a suitable motto, Diggs, Armstrong and Lee solicited the aid of a Professor of Greek Art at Indiana Technical College at Fort Wayne, Indiana. Having adopted a motto which mutually suited them, they carried a sketch of the coat of arms to a commercial engraver in Fort Wayne, from which he made the first metal plate.
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