top of page

Founded on the campus of Howard University in Washington, DC in 1908, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (AKA) is the oldest Greek-letter organization established by African American college-trained women. 


Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® was founded on a mission comprised of five basic tenets that have remained unchanged since the sorority’s inception 115 years ago.  Alpha Kappa Alpha’s mission is to cultivate and encourage high scholastic and ethical standards, to promote unity and friendship among college women, to study and help alleviate problems concerning girls and women in order to improve their social stature, to maintain a progressive interest in college life, and to be of “Service to All Mankind".



The record of Alpha Kappa Alpha’s origin, growth and development, activities, accomplishments and evolving goals is more than an interesting chronicle of a colorful bit of college-based Americana. It is, rather a significant and inspiring reflection of the emergence of a dynamic group into a challenging world. The vision of Ethel Hedgemon Lyle became a reality on January 15, 1908. She, along with eight others defined the sorority’s motto as ‘by culture and by merit’, the official colors as salmon pink and apple green and its symbol as the ivy leaf.


On January 29, 1913, Alpha Kappa Alpha was incorporated as a perpetual body, 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.”


The efforts of Alpha Kappa Alpha constitute a priceless part of the American experience in the Twentieth Century.







The Original Group: Anna Easter Brown, Beulah Burke, Lillie Burke, Marjorie Hill, Margaret Flagg Holmes, Ethel Hedgemon Lyle, Lavinia Norman, Lucy Slowe and Marie Woolfolk Taylor

Led by Ethel Hedgemon Lyle, the nine Howard University students who came together to form Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority were the scholastic leaders of their classes. Each also had a special talent or gift that further enhanced the potential of this dynamic group.





The Sophomores: Norma Boyd, Ethel Jones Mowbray, Alice Murray, Sarah Meriweather Nutter, Joanna Berry Shields, Carrie Snowden and Harriet Terry

With the exception of Ethel, the original group of women was comprised of college seniors. To ensure the continuity of the organization, seven Class of 1910 honor students who had expressed interest were invited to join without initiation.


The Incorporators: Norma Boyd, Julia Brooks, Ethel Jones Mowbray, Nellie Quander, Nellie Pratt Russell and Minnie Smith

Nellie Quander was elected president in 1911. Under her visionary leadership, Alpha Kappa Alpha initiated a dynamic plan of expansion. The first step of establishing a national body in perpetuity was taken in 1913 when Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority was legally incorporated.


To learn more, please visit


bottom of page