In 1908, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority became America’s first Greek-letter organization established by and for Black women. Its creation began with an idea by Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, who was currently a junior at Howard University in Washington, D.C. She viewed the development of the sorority as an instrument for enriching the social and intellectual aspects of college life by providing mental stimulation through interaction with friends and associates.
With a group of nine women: Anna Easter Brown, Beulah Elizabeth Burke, Lillie Burke, Marjorie Hill, Margaret Flagg Holmes, Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, Lavinia Norman, Lucy Diggs Slowe, and Marie Wolfolk Taylor, Alpha Kappa Alpha was formed January 15, 1908 at Howard University. A group of sophomore women which included Norma Boyd, Ethel Jones Mowbray, Alice P. Murray, Sarah M. Nutter, Joanna B. Shields, Carrie E. Snowden, and Harriet J. Terry showed interest in the organization and were chosen to complete this group so the sorority would continue after those of the first group had graduated. Together, these 16 women are honored as the Founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
After coming to the realization that legal incorporation would contribute to the assurance of perpetuity, a group of sorority members led by Nellie Quander sought to incorporate the sorority. On January 29, 1913, Alpha Kappa Alpha was incorporated with “power to organize, institute, and charter subordinate chapters whose particular purposes and objectives would be educational”, and would “promote the intellectual standard and mutual uplift of its members”. Thanks to the efforts of our incorporators, Norma Boyd, Julia E. Brooks, Ethel Jones Mowbray, Nellie M. Quander, Nellie Pratt Russell, and Minnie B. Smith, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., was the first sorority in the United States organized by Black women to be incorporated.