Their President is a “war lord”: Interesting Facts About Kappa Alpha Psi

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KAP-FoundersBy Marie Seva

Kappa Alpha Psi was originally Kappa Alpha Nu.  Find out more interesting facts about one of the only four chiefly Black fraternities who have celebrated their centennial.

  1. On Jan. 5, 1911, a group of ten  young African-American men in college founded Kappa Alpha Nu at Indiana University Bloomington. Circumstances within the campus led to the decision to change the brotherhood’s name to Kappa Alpha Psi, which has been its official title since April 15, 1915.
  1. The founding members of the brotherhood whose vision, efforts and spirits have paved the way for the existence of the celebrated fraternity are: Elder Watson Diggs, Byron Kenneth Armstrong, Ezra Dee Alexander, Henry Tourner Asher, Marcus Peter Blakemore, Paul Waymond Caine, George Wesley Edmonds, Guy Levis Grant, Edward Giles Irvin, and John Milton Lee. Frederick Mitchell was among the members whose name appeared in the application for the incorporation of the brotherhood, but because he left the school, his name never made it to the roster of the fraternity’s founding members.
  1. The president of the organization is called the ‘Grand Polemarch.’ ‘Polemarch’ originated from the Greek word ‘polemarchos,’ which comes from ‘polemos’ meaning war and ‘archon’ meaning leader or ruler. Hence, Polemarchos means warleader/warlord.
  1. Kappa Alpha Psi currently has a membership of more than 150,000. It also has 721 chapters and 12 regions called “Provinces.” The twelve provinces are:  Northern, Eastern, Southern, Western, North Eastern, South Eastern, South Western, North Central, East Central, South Central, Middle Eastern and Middle Western.  Each of the provinces is headed by a Province Polemarch.
  1. The official organ of the brotherhood is the Kappa Alpha Psi Journal.  It was first published in 1914.  It has four issues each year, released each February, April, October and December. The journal’s first editor was Frank M. Summers, who later also became one of the organization’s Grand Polemarchs.
  1. The fraternity’s official colors are crimson and cream, and its official symbol is the Kappa Diamond.
  1. The brotherhood has an auxiliary group named the National Silhouettes of Kappa Alpha Psi. It was established in 1947 at the Los Angeles Conclave.   Members are comprised mostly of wives and widows of the members of the brotherhood.   They collaborate with the brotherhood and provide assistance and support on different programs conducted by various chapters in the varying Provinces of the fraternity.
  1. Through Dr. Oliver Gumbs, the 23rd Grand Polemarch, a vision of the brotherhood’s humanitarian body was formed. This resulted to the establishment of the Kappa Alpha Psi Foundation in 1981.  The foundation provides the necessary support for the brotherhood’s thrusts for scholarships, educational enhancement programs and other endeavors such as the support for Habitat for Humanity.
  1. One of Kappa Alpha Psi’s initiatives or programs is the “Diamond in the Rough,” which they have defined as “the ability to see the potential of greatness and exceptional qualities in the unexpected.” Their vision for this program is “to promote the academic, social and service-based achievements of young men of color.” The program provides young men a means to better prepare themselves for college, possible access to scholarships and ways to overcome their deficiencies in order to ensure that they obtain the necessary resources and capabilities for college and thus, earn college degrees.
  1. In 2005, the brotherhood decided to embark on a project to help save the lives of children battling diseases that afflict them. It was announced that their national humanitarian associate would be St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. They launched the “Sunday of Hope“ program in various churches to aid their fund-raising campaign for the hospital.  In 2010, the fraternity raised more than $1 million for the patients and for research studies conducted to combat various childhood illnesses at the hospital.


Sources 1, 2, 3, 4, 5









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