Chapter History

"over the past 99 years....."

Sigma Chapter, the 17th House of Alpha was founded on November 28, 1915 by brothers from other chapters who were pursuing studies at Boston University and Harvard University.

Chapter Founders:
Matthew Walker Clair,Jr.
Earl Harrison Crampton
James Daniel McLendon, Jr.
Franklin Augustus Myers
Aiken Augustus Pope
Alford Hilton Tavernier
Lorenzo Dow Turner

The fall of 1915 found these seven men of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., each of different backgrounds and environments, gathered in Boston, Massachusetts. Having recently graduated from Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, Yale University of New Haven, Connecticut and Howard University of Washington, D.C., they each arrived in Boston, a city that has long been a bastion for the advancement of the Negro. On November 28, 1915 these seven men banded together to charter the Sigma Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. Since being established in 1915, Sigma Chapter has had a very rich tradition and proud heritage. Unlike any other chapter in Alpha Phi Alpha, it has the distinction of being the only chapter to be chartered during the tenure of a Jewel as General President (Jewel Henry A. Callis). Over the past 95 years, Sigma has given birth to notable Alpha men that have shaped the lives of Americans across the United States. Perhaps the most notable son of Sigma is slain civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (May 13, 1952). Though Dr. King is the most recognized son, Sigma has noble sons that have matured to become Masons, Congressmen, Chief Executive Officers, prominent businessmen, musicians, scholars and professionals. Sons of Sigma have continued to hold the Light of Alpha high by excelling in each and every undertaking they pursue. Whether a basketball tournament, Go-to-High School, Go-to-College campaign or a "party walk," the Brothers of Sigma Chapter have always had a penchant for success.

Chapter Officers


Bro. Jamil Williams
Fall 2013 Tail - "Azubuike"
Major: Health Science @ Boston University
Year: 2016
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Other Involvements: UMOJA Vice President, Posse Scholar,
Training Coordinator for the Admissions Student Diversity Board


Bro. Matthew Farmer
Fall 2013 Four - "Azubuike"
Major: Electrical Engineering @ Boston University
Year: 2015
Hometown: Bronx, NY
Other Involvements: President of UMOJA


Bro. Kyle Lawrence
Fall 2013 Rock - "Azubuike"
Major: Business Finance @ Northeastern University
Year: 2015
Hometown: Boston, MA
Other Involvements: Ujima Scholar


Bro. Kevin Smith
Fall 2013 Deuce - "Azubuike"
Major: Computer Engineering @ Boston University
Year: 2015
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Other Involvements: Teaching Assistant, Posse Scholar


The objectives of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. are to stimulate the ambition of its members; to prepare them for the greatest usefulness in the cause of humanity, freedom, and dignity of the individual;to encourage the highest and noblest form of manhood; and to aid downtrodden humanity its efforts to achieve higher social, economic, and intellectual status.

The first two objectives - (1) to stimulate the ambition of its members and (2) to prepare them for the greatest usefulness in the cause of humanity, freedom, and dignity of the individual-serve as the basis for the establishment of Alpha University. Since the establishment of Sigma Chapter, Brothers have actively engaged in community service activities and developed programs that have made it a pillar in the city of Boston on both the collegiate and community level. Sigma Chapter prides itself on over 96 years of tradition and values itself in upholding the ideals of the fraternity.

Sigma Chapter encompasses the Boston metro region and continues to be a force within the community. Some of the current programs in which the chapter participates in or coordinates are: Feeding the homeless at Church of All Nations, Miss Black and Gold, Go to High School-Go to College, the March of Dimes, and A Phi A Little Brother's Day.

Prominent 17th House Alumni

Some of the most prominent and influential men of color were initiated into Alpha through Sigma chapter. For example, Silas "Shag" Taylor ('23), who by the time of his 1937 appointment to the Massachusetts Parole Board, had become one of the Boston metro-area's most powerful political bosses.

Brother Julian D. Rainey ('23), became, in 1925, the first person of color to become faculty of a leading law school when he became a member of the Suffolk Law School faculty. Rainey went on to run for City Council in 1925 and finished a close second.

Another son of Sigma to rise to prominence was, ex-president Clifton R. Wharton, who was appointed secretary to the Legation in Liberia, "where he would take up great work in the service of his country."

Ferdinand Rousseve, while a member of Sigma Lambda Chapter, designed the Second Fraternity Shield; this revised Shield is the one that is currently used by the organization.

When the General Organization decided to pursue a variety of insurance programs, one of the insurance companies it entered a business relationship with was Atlanta Life Insurance Company, which was founded by A. F. Herndon and operated by his son, Sigma alumnus Norris Herndon (Harvard,'21).

Brother Charles Hamilton Houston (Harvard, '21), first black editor of the Harvard Law Review, envisaged of and led the legal strategy leading to the end of legalized racial segregation in the United States. He was one of the individuals whom laid the legal groundwork through thought and action that ultimately led to 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education that made racial segregation in public primary and secondary schools unconstitutional. Brother Houston not only participated in effecting the change, but was the inspiration and mentor to Brother Thurgood Marshall, and many others who carried on the battle and remains an inspiration to those working for social justice today.

Brother Alonzo G. Moron (Brown, Spr. '30) was the first black president of Hampton University, influencing the civil rights movement as he worked to upgrade Hampton Institute from a trade school to a college. He proved that a school for African Americans could be successful with a black man in charge. Moron's influence was significant in many fields. An outstanding scholar, effective administrator, and advocator for civil rights, he held many groundbreaking posts, all with distinction.

Brother Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (Harvard, Spr. '66) is a Congressman in Virginia's Third Congressional District. As a legislator for the people, he has passed laws that improved healthcare benefits for women, infants and children, increased the Virginia minimum wage, created the Governor's Employment and Training Council and established The Neighborhood Assistance Act (which provides tax credits to businesses for donations made to approved social service and crime prevention programs).

Brother Wendell Knox (Harvard, Spr. '66), President and CEO of Abt Associates, is a Harvard University graduate. Brother Knox is active in civic affairs, including board memberships with Brigham and Women's Hospital, The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, The Partnership, The Biomedical Sciences Career Program, The National Conference for Community and Justice, and the Dimock Community Foundation. He also serves on the boards of Eastern Bank and Allmerica Financial Corporation.

Brother John Cawthorne (Harvard, Spr. '61) is an Associate Dean of Students and Outreach, the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. Prior to joining the administration of the Lynch School at Boston College, Brother Cawthorne was vice president for education of the National Urban League, Research Professor at Boston College, and Senior Research Associate in the Center for the Study of Testing, Evaluation, and Educational Policy (CSTEEP) at the Lynch School. A native of Oklahoma, Brother Cawthorne began his teaching career, fresh out of Harvard, in 1964 in Washington, D.C. He has run a federal program for primary students in Washington, consulted with a number of national foundations and school districts, was principal of the Lower School of the Massachusetts Experimental School system, and was director of Chapter I for the Massachusetts Department of Correction, where he was responsible for educational programs for inmates in the Commonwealth's prisons and jails under the age of 21.

Brother Antonio Hart (Berklee College of Music, Spr. '87) has long been recognized as one of the most talented instrumentalist of his generation. In recent years he has also been recognized as an important Jazz educator. In his 20 years as a professional musician he has performed and recorded with many jazz greats, from Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Hargrove, Nancy Wilson, Nat Adderley, and McCoy Tyner to Dave Holland.

Brother Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc.

Established to oversee the development of the memorial project, the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc is a non - profit fundraising arm of the fraternity. The foundations mission is "to commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by leading a collaborative funding, design and construction process in the creation of a memorial to honor his national and international contributions to world peace through non-violent social change."

Martin Luther King, Jr. was initiated in Sigma Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. by way of Boston University on June 22, 1952. His only remaining living line brother is Bro. Herman Hemingway, who entered by way of Brandeis University.

Martin Luther King Jr. goes down in history as one of the principal leader of the civil rights movement in the United States and a prominent advocate of nonviolent protest. King's challenges to segregation and racial discrimination helped convince many white Americans to support the cause of civil rights in the United States.

King was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and was ordained as a Baptist minister at age 18. He graduated from Morehouse College in 1948 and from Crozer Theological Seminary in 1951. In 1955 he earned a doctoral degree in systematic theology from Boston University. While in Boston, King met Coretta Scott, whom he married in 1953.

In 1954 King accepted his first pastorate at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Montgomery's black community had long-standing grievances about the mistreatment of blacks on city buses. Heading the year-long bus-boycott against segregation in buses, King soon became a national figure.

In 1957 King helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), an organization of black churches and ministers that aimed to challenge racial segregation. King and other SCLC leaders encouraged the use of nonviolent marches, demonstrations, and boycotts to protest discrimination.

King and other black leaders organized the 1963 March on Washington, a massive protest in Washington, D.C., for jobs and civil rights. King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech to an audience of more than 200,000 civil rights supporters. The speech and the march created the political momentum that resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited segregation in public accommodations and discrimination in education and employment. As a result of King's effective leadership, he was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize for peace.

Throughout 1966 and 1967 King increasingly turned the focus of his activism to the redistribution of the nation's economic wealth to overcome entrenched black poverty. In the spring of 1968 he went to Memphis, Tennessee, to support striking black garbage workers. King was assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968.


Written by Sydney P. Brown

GOODWILL is the monarch of this house
Where men, unacquainted, enter, shake hands,
exchange greetings, and depart friends.
Cordiality exists among all who abide within.
I am the eminent expression of friendship.
Character and temperament change under my dominant power.
Lives once touched by me become tuned,
and are thereafter, amiable, kindly, fraternal.

I inspire the musician to play noble sentiments,
and assist the chemist to convert ungenerous personalities
into individuals of great worth.
I destroy all ignoble impulses.
I constantly invoke principles which make for common brotherhood,
and the echo resounds in all communities,
and princely men are thereby recognized.
Education, health, music, encouragement, sympathy, laughter:
All these are species of interest given on self-invested capital.

Tired moments find me a delightful treat,
Hours of sorrow a shrine of understanding,
At all times I am faithful to the creed of companionship.
To a few I am the Castle of Dreams,
Ambitious, successful, hopeful dreams.
To many, I am the Poetic Palace
where human feeling is rhymed to celestial motives.
To the great majority,
I am the Treasury of Good Fellowship.

In fact, I am the College of Friendship;
The University of Brotherly Love;
The School for the Better Making of Men.

Go to lineage

First of All, Servants of All, We Shall Transcend All.