1963 was a turbulent year. History-making events occurred that would radically and permanently affect the country as a whole, and African-Americans in particular
Three weeks later and less than 50 miles away, in Baltimore, Maryland, another group of men would make a different kind of history.
On September 19, 1963, at Morgan State College (now Morgan State University), 12 students founded what is now the nation's fifth largest, predominately African-American social service fraternity: The Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Incorporated.
The Honorable Founders of Iota Phi Theta were: Albert Hicks, Lonnie Spruill, Jr., Charles Briscoe, Frank Coakley, John Slade, Barron Willis, Webster Lewis, Charles Brown, Louis Hudnell, Charles Gregory, Elias Dorsey, Jr., and Michael Williams.
This group of men was unique for several reasons. First of all, many were long-time friends. Spruill, Coakley, Dorsey, and Gregory had known one another since grade school, and Spruill and Coakley's friendship extended to when the two were pre-schoolers.
Iota Phi Theta, 1964
Front Row L-R: Honorable Founder Louis Hudnell, Bro. Wesley Jennings, Honorable Founder Lonnie Spruill Jr., Honorable Founder Charles Briscoe, Bro. Ronald Flamer, Bro. Daniel Henson
Back Row L-R: Bro. Willie Barber, Bro. Charles Watts, Bro. Ronald Wheatley, Honorable Founder Elias Dorsey, Jr., Bro. Calvin Freedland, Bro. Jeff Johnson, Honorable Founder Baron Willis
Alpha Chapter, 1968
The Fraternity functioned as a local entity until the first interest groups were established in 1967 at Hampton Institute (Beta Chapter) and Delaware State College (Gamma Chapter). Further expansion took place in 1968 with chapters being formed at Norfolk State College (Delta Chapter) and Jersey City State College (Epsilon Chapter). The Fraternity was officially and legally incorporated on November 1, 1968, as a National Fraternity under the laws of the State of Maryland. Today, Iota Phi Theta consists of over 300 chapters located in 40 States as well Japan, Korea, and the Bahamas.
The first steps toward moving the Fraternity from a regional to a more national scope were taken with the creation of Upsilon Chapter (Southern Illinois University) in 1974. It was also during this period that the Fraternity's first 4 Graduate chapters were formed: Alpha Omega (Baltimore, MD, 1965), Beta Omega (Washington, DC, 1970), Gamma Omega (Hampton, VA, 1973), and Delta Omega (Boston, MA, 1973).
These chapters created the framework for the growth and development of the organization in the Northeast, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest Regions of the country. The next regional expansion occurred in 1983 with the establishment of the Alpha Chi (San Francisco State University) and Xi Omega (San Francisco Alumni) chapters in California.
Today, Iota Phi Theta® consists of over 300 chapters located in 40 States, the District of Columbia and internationally in the Republic of Korea, Japan and Colombia, South America. The scope of the organization extends throughout the nation, from California to New York; from Wyoming to Florida; and from Wisconsin to our international chapters.
As Iota Phi Theta continues to grow and strengthen, so will its commitment to making meaningful contributions to society in general, with particular emphasis on the African-American community. Throughout America, Iota Phi Theta has come to represent excellence in all areas. The Fraternity is, and shall forever remain dedicated to its founders' vision of "Building a Tradition, Not Resting Upon One!"