Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. - The Delta Gamma Chapter

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The History of

Kappa Alpha Psi


KAΨ - Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
Motto "Achievement in every field of human endeavor"
Colors Crimson and Cream
Symbol Scroll, Diamond
Flower Red Carnation
Founded January 5, 1911 at Indiana University Bloomington
Fraternity type Service
Scope International
Headquarters 2322 Broad Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Chapters 850+
Nickname Kappas, N.U.P.E.S
Homepage KAΨ website

Kappa Alpha Psi (KAΨ) is the first black intercollegiate fraternity incorporated as a national body greek-letter fraternity. Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. is a predominately African-American fraternity whose fundamental purpose is achievement. We train our members for leadership throughout all walks of life as we continue to strive for excellence in our academic pursuits. On the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana a hundred years ago, African American men began an all male organization better known as a fraternity by the name of Alpha Kappa Nu (1903). But this fraternity witnessed a tremendous amount of problems and the fraternity faced a lot of issue resulting in the changing of the name early in existence. Later, a transfer student by the name of Elder Watson Diggs (was the cousin of Lucy Diggs-Slow of Alpha Kappa Alpha (Founder)) decided to carry on this idea and began a new fraternity. On the night of January 5, 1911 this noble man along with nine others by the names of Dr. Ezra D. Alexander, Attorney Henry T. Asher, Dr. Byron K. Armstrong, Dr. Marcus P. Blakemore, Paul W. Caine, George W. Edmonds, Dr. Guy L. Grant, Edward G. Irvin, and John Milton Lee founded the fraternity of Kappa Alpha Nu in honor of the previous all African American fraternity, which was later changed to what is now known as Kappa Alpha Psi, the first African American Fraternity originated by undergraduate students. Kappa Alpha Nu became officially incorporated on May 15, 1911. The fraternity name was changed to Kappa Alpha Psi on April 15, 1915. With achievement as itís purpose, Kappa Alpha Psi began uniting college men of culture, patriotism, and honor in a bond of a fraternity at schools such as University of Illinois, University of Iowa, and Wilberforce to name a few. Today, the fraternity initiates more than 18 hundred members every year. We host chapters not only all over the country but all over the world. The colors of this noble fraternity are Krimson and Kream . The flower is the Red Karnation and our animal is the Red Kardinal (not the playboy bunny). We are the only NPHC organization that has 100% no honorary members. Also we are known not only for our community service and leadership but also kane twirling, shimmy, and the pretty boy image. Since its birth in 1911 at Indiana University, the fraternity has never limited membership based on color, creed or national origin. The fraternity has over 506,000 members with 850 undergraduate and alumni chapters in every state of the United States, and international chapters in the United Kingdom, Germany, Korea, Japan, the West Indies and South Africa. The president of the national fraternity title is known as the Grand Polemarch, who assigns a Province Polemarch for each of the twelve provinces (districts/regions) of the nation. The fraternity has many notable members recognized as leaders in the arts, athletics, business, civil rights, education, government, and science sectors at the local, national and international level. The Kappa Alpha Psi Journal is the official magazine of the fraternity since 1914. Frank M. Summers was the magazine's first editor and later on became the 14th Grand Polemarch. Unlike many other founders of other organizations, our founders are doctors and lawyers.

Kappa Alpha Psi is a major contributor in the fields of political, social, cultural and scholastic achievement. The fraternity sponsors programs providing community service, social welfare and academic scholarship through the Kappa Alpha Psi Foundation and is a supporter of the United Negro College Fund and Habitat for Humanity. Kappa Alpha Psi is a member of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) and the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC). The fraternity is the first predominantly African American Greek-letter society founded west of the Appalachian Mountains still in existence, and is known for its "cane stepping" in NPHC organized step shows.


Founded

The founders endeavored to establish the fraternity with a strong foundation before embarking on plans of expansion. By the end of the first year, the ritual was completed and a design for the coat of arms and motto had begun.
The Sample Gates of Indiana University
IU was the site where Kappa Alpha Nu was founded in 1911 and the name was changed to Kappa Alpha Psi in 1915.

During this time there were very few African-American students at the predominately white campus at Bloomington, Indiana and they were a small minority due to the era of Jim Crow laws. Many African-American students rarely saw each other on campus and were discouraged or prohibited from attending student functions and extra-curricular activities by white college administrators and fellow students. African-American students were denied membership on athletic teams with the exception of track and field. The racial prejudice and discrimination encountered by the founders strengthened their bond of friendship and growing interest in starting a social group. From the beginning, the founders' goal was to create a fraternity founded on Christian ideals and for the purpose of achievement regardless of a person's race or social class.

By 1912, the fraternity expanded by creating the second undergraduate chapter opened at the University of Illinois (Beta chapter); then the University of Iowa (Gamma chapter). After this, Kappa Alpha Psi chartered undergraduate chapters on Black college campuses at Wilberforce University (Delta Chapter), and Lincoln University, PA (Epilson Chapter). In 1920, Xi Chapter was chartered at Howard University. In 1921, the fraternity gave birth to the Pi chapter at Morehouse College, its first chapter in the south. Kappa Alpha Psi expanded through the Midwest, South, and West at both white and black institution.

The 1915 IU Track Team
In 1915 initiate Frank Summers was one of eighteen members of the Indiana University Track team awarded the letter "I".


There are some who believe the greek letters Kappa Alpha Psi were chosen as a tribute to Alpha Kappa Nu, but the name became an ethnic slur among racist factions. Founder Elder Diggs, while observing a young initiate compete in a track meet, overheard fans referring to the member as a "kappa alpha nigger", and a campaign to rename the fraternity ensued. The resolution to rename the group was adopted in December 1914, and the fraternity states, "the name acquired a distinctive Greek letter symbol and KAPPA ALPHA PSI thereby became a Greek letter Fraternity in every sense of the designation." Kappa Alpha Psi has been the official name since April 1915.

During the Los Angeles Conclave,in 1947, the National Silhouettes of Kappa Alpha Psi were established as an auxiliary of the fraternity. Membership comprises wives or widows of fraternity members. In 1980, the Silhouettes were officially recognized and granted a seat on the Board of Directors of the Kappa Alpha Psi Foundation. Silhouettes provide support and assistance for the activities of Kappa Alpha Psi at the Grand Chapter, Province and Local levels.

The 2004-2006 International Chapter of the Year award is held by the Delta Eta chapter, that's compised of students from Drexel, Pennsylvania, Villanova, and La Salle Universities; and Beaver College. Other Conferences and awards include The "C. Rodger Wilson Leadership Conference" is held annually in each province to educate and train alumni and undergraduates officers to more effectively execute individual chapter procedures and initiatives. The "Kappa Alpha Psi Foundation," established in 1981, is the philanthropic arm of the fraternity and assists both alumni and undergraduate chapters in support of scholarships, after-school programs, and national projects such as Habitat for Humanity.


The History of the Kappa Kane

The use of walking sticks and canes may very well date back to centuries B.C. to the times when shepherds would tend to their flocks. This ties into the early roots of Christianity and leads to the candy canes of today being striped the way they are (3 thin stripes and 1 solid stripe) to remind us of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost and the blood of Christ.
KAΨ members carrying kanes!!!
Brothers of KAΨ carrying their kanes, which is a tradition and symbol of the fraternity.
The shape was believed to be chosen because the cane, if pointed upward, resembles the letter "J" for Jesus. History of the cane also ties in with the African Rights of Passage, and was a symbol of manhood that had to be carried by initiates wishing to become adult members of their respective tribe. Dealing more directly with the evolution of the cane and how it relates to the Fraternity, canes started off as assistive devices, and later turned into social status symbols for society. In the 1700's and 1800's, canes were a fashion embellishment. One "wore" a cane. These old canes were decorative, objects to be admired and be proud of. They became collectors items and represented the true sign of a Gentleman. Members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity have always worn or carried canes since the beginning of the Fraternity in 1911. Although unintentional in its inception, this occurrence soon became an unofficial tradition of Kappa men, as Kappa's have always striven to be noble and productive members of the community. Members of the Fraternity then proudly adorned the cane, being the symbol of a Gentleman who exhibits such characteristics.

This type of display became commonplace up until the 1950's when Black Greek Letter Organizations, on an undergraduate level, began to practice what is known today as "Step Shows". Undergraduate members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity took part in the trade and soon incorporated the use of their favorite item, the cane, into the routine. This was something that spread to many undergraduate chapters during the 50's and 60's. Stepping was catching on at an accelerated rate among the African American fraternities and sororities during this time period.

It was not until the mid to later 1960's that the undergrads of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity began to decorate the step canes with the colors of the organization. The usual design was to pattern the cane with a crimson and a cream stripe from tip to tip. All throughout the 50's and 60's, canes used in the art of stepping were standard canes of approximately 36 inches in length, give or take half a foot. Eventually, as stated before, the canes would be adorned with the Fraternity colors of crimson and cream, but they were still standard length. Members of Kappa Alpha Psi would perform routines know as "Taps" where the canes would be beaten on the ground in time with the rhythmic beat of the step show. The turn of the decade would reveal an evolution in cane stepping known today as "twirling". Undergraduate members of Kappa Alpha Psi in the 70's, not content with Taps alone, would then create a new form of cane mastery which involved much more skill and talent than merely banging the cane on the ground in a particular beat.

When "twirling" had become the new style of cane stepping among Kappa undergrads, members were constantly searching for better and faster styles. One problem that Kappa's faced during this time is that they were still practicing the step show routines using the standard sized, 3 foot canes. Kappas' widely found that while standard length canes worked fine for stepping, they eventually became a problem when it came time to twirl.

The cane evolved once again with the birth of the short cane. This new evolution of the short kane came along the late 1970's and has remained constant to this day in age. Above is a NUPE who is twirling and performing tricks with his kane.

Members of the Delta Gamma Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
perform at a yard show on Shaw University campus in 2006 on Valentine's Day!!!

Thus, the full-length cane, as well as standing straight up in order to perform a "Tap", has been sacrificed, making way for twirling ability and speed. The National Organization was slow to accept this as an official part of the Fraternity, even though undergraduate members, across the entire United States, were widely participating in the art and tradition of cane stepping. But, now that the National Organization of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated openly embraced cane stepping, publicity of the old tradition was gaining and many television shows, T.V. commercials, and music video artists sought out to display Kappa's stepping in their respective forums. One of the first national airings came about on February 2nd, 1989 when NBC chose members of Kappa Alpha Psi to perform a step routine on the Black college sitcom "A Different World". Later, members of Kappa Alpha Psi could be found stepping in Brother Montell Jordan's remix of "This is How We Do It" in the summer of 1996. Also airing in the summer of 1996 was another display of Kappa's stepping in an episode of Fox's "New York Undercover". Kappas were again called upon to perform in song stress in the OJ's music video "Love You Down" which ran in the spring of 1997. WB's sitcom "Sister Sister" ran an episode that focused on college fraternities in the spring of 1999, and members of Kappa Alpha Psi were chosen to perform the stepping segment. Other music videos that feature members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity are "Woof!" by rapper Snoop Doggy Dog (which ran in the spring of 1999), "Get Buck" by Young Buck which aired in Spring of 2007, "Just A Friend" by Biz Markie in the Fall of 1989 and "Imma Shine" by Mia X which ran in the summer of 1999.

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