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Sunday, April 21
The Indiana Daily Student

IU chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha celebrates national anniversary

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On Wednesday night the lights dimmed in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center as the brothers of Sigma Kappa Lambda and Gamma Eta entered the Grand Hall. They sang to celebrate the national founding “Jewels,” referring to the seven men who created this organization.

The Founder’s Day Celebration, “Edifying the House: Revisiting the Foundation to Sustain the Future,” honored Alpha Phi Alpha's growth since it began at Cornell University 113 years ago.

“This event, for me, brings together generations of black men and allows them to be vulnerable, which society doesn’t always allow them to do,” Founder’s Day Coordinator Marvin Jones Jr. said.

Alpha Phi Alpha has had an undergraduate charter on IU’s campus since 1947 and an alumni charter since 2017.

One of Alpha Phi Alpha’s national initiatives is bettering the community, and many of the members volunteer at Middle Way House and read to young students at the RISE center in Bloomington.

“It’s a great way to exercise leadership skills in an environment that I can help people in,” Gamma Eta Chapter President Jordan Williams said.

Williams has been a member since last fall and spoke at the Founder’s Day Celebration to welcome and explain the significance of the anniversary.

Middle Way House Youth Program Coordinator Priscilla Cuevas was invited to the event by the Brothers she has met while working at Middle Way House. 

“I’m just excited to learn more,” Cuevas said.

Seven members each lit a candle, one for each of the Founding Jewels, and read the accomplishments and a quote to honor their lives. One of the founders, George Biddle Kelley, became the first registered African American engineer in the State of New York.

Another founder, Robert Harold Ogle, became a professional staff member to the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations.

Samuel Young II, president of the Sigma Kappa Lambda Chapter, said he finds it important to recognize and honor the organization’s mission of striving to lift up and support others.

“We know there’s a reason for us to be here,” Young said.

Clarification: This article has been updated to reflect that the undergraduate chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, Gamma Eta, is affiliated with IU while the alumni chapter, Sigma Kappa Lambda, is in the city of Bloomington.

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