Today marks the 106th anniversary of the oldest black women’s greek letter organization, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. The AKA’s were established in 1908 on the campus of Howard University by nine scholastic leaders. Soon after, seven honor student sophomores were added to the group to ensure continuity. They were led by Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, a music teacher who was the first college-trained black woman to receive a Teacher’s Life Certificate from the State Department of Education. Lyle went on to found the sorority’s first alumnae chapter, the Omega Omega chapter in Philadelphia. She is the only member ever named a National Honorary Basileus.
The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority name, logo and motto of “By Culture and By Merit” was created by founder Beulah Elizabeth Burke. The bylaws and charter was drafted by Lucy Slowe with the final copies completed by Margaret Flagg Holmes and Lavinia Norman.
The first national president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority was Nellie M. Quander, who served from 1913-1919. The organization was incorporated in 1913. By 1923, the sorority had built an organization of 32 chapters. That growth has expanded to over 260,000 members all over the world.
Since its creation, the AKA’s have named prominent women as honorary members, including Alicia Keys, Dr. Maya Angelou, Marian Anderson, Bebe Moore Campbell and Suzanne De Passe.
The current international president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated is Attorney Carolyn House Stewart.