In 1905-06 at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, a group of Negro students felt that there should be a little more intimacy between the students than the classroom permitted. These students, nine in number, formulated the “Social Study Club” with the following members: Messrs. Henry A. Callis, Vertner W. Tandy, George B. Kelley, Charles H. Chapman, Nathaniel A. Murray, Robert H. Ogle, Morgan T. Phillips, George Thompkins, and C. C. Poindexter.
Two motives were operating in the minds of these students at this time, and it is interesting to note that these motives have been present and active in many individual chapters of the fraternity at subsequent periods. These motives have struggled one against the other throughout our history as a fraternal group.
One of these motives was a desire to organize a social and literary organization in which all the members could participate at the regular periods of meeting. Another was to organize a fraternity, similar in type to some of the college fraternities, in which several of these students were working in order to support themselves while pursuing their collegiate studies.
During the 1905-06 school year, the project for the formation of a fraternity was dormant and the idea of the social studies club flourished. However, in the following school year, 1906-07, the organization of a fraternity took more definite form, and the developing fraternal sentiment was crystallized into action in the following way:
• The name Alpha Phi Alpha and colors, old gold and black, were identified on October 23, 1906
• The first initiation and banquet were held on October 30, 1906, at the Masonic Hall
• On November 13, 1906, a motion was made to design a fraternity pin
It was in this manner, side by side, that the fraternal project and the literary society persisted. However, the inevitable day of division had to come and on December 4, 1906, the decision to become a fraternity was made. On January 8, 1907, Mr. C. C. Poindexter’s resignation was accepted with regrets along with Mr. George Thompkins. Thus, Alpha Phi Alpha was a fraternity and the Negro student group in America had been given the nucleus of its first national Greek letter fraternity. The founders are known as the "Seven Jewels," and are listed below.
Jewel HENRY ARTHUR CALLIS
Jewel CHARLES HENRY CHAPMAN
Jewel EUGENE KINCKLE JONES
Jewel GEORGE BIDDLE KELLEY
Jewel NATHANIEL ALLISON MURRAY
Jewel ROBERT HAROLD OGLE
Jewel VERTNER WOODSON TANDY