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Since its founding on December 4, 1906, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. has supplied a voice and vision to the struggle of African Americans and people of color worldwide.

Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans, was founded at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, by seven college men who recognized the need for a strong bond of Brotherhood among African descendants in this country. The visionary founders, known as the “Jewels” of the Fraternity, are Henry Arthur Callis, Charles Henry Chapman, Eugene Kinckle Jones, George Biddle Kelley, Nathaniel Allison Murray, Robert Harold Ogle, and Vertner Woodson Tandy.

The Fraternity initially served as a study and support group for minority students who faced racial prejudice, both educationally and socially, at Cornell. The Jewel founders and early leaders of the Fraternity succeeded in laying a firm foundation for Alpha Phi Alpha’s principles of scholarship, fellowship, good character, and the uplifting of humanity.

Alpha Phi Alpha chapters were developed at other colleges and universities, many of them historically black institutions, soon after the founding at Cornell. While continuing to stress academic excellence among its members, Alpha also recognized the need to help correct the educational, economic, political, and social injustices faced by African Americans.

Alpha Phi Alpha has long stood at the forefront of the African American community’s fight for civil rights through leaders such as W.E.B. DuBois, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Edward Brooke, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Andrew Young,

William Gray, Paul Robeson, and many others.


ZBL History

Zeta Beta Lambda got its beginning in the early part of 1954. Brothers in the area were concerned about the lack of an Alpha chapter, Alumni and College, in the Sacramento area to foster Alpha Spirit, scholarship, national programs, and promote partnership with local Black Greek organizations. This concern went beyond the immediate need to start a chapter but, as a group, to improve educational opportunities and further the political, economic, and social development of black people in the community.


Eight brothers were present at a meeting at Brother Don H. Nance's home on May 17, 1954. The meeting began at 8:00P.M with the following brothers in attendance: 


  • Dr. James F. Garner, 

  • Dr. Arthur R. Trent, 

  • Arthur G. Johnson, 

  • Captain George M. Hubbard, 

  • Dr. Roscoe C. Brewer, 

  • Don H. Nance, J.

  • Winston Bolden, and 

  • Dr. J. M. Morris. 


On this first meeting, Brother Nance and Brother Morris agreed to act as the temporary President and Secretary, respectively. At this first meeting, the suggestion was made that the Secretary draft a letter to the General Secretary inquiring about the process of forming a graduate chapter. There was a consensus that the graduate chapter should, if possible, embrace the Chico, Marysville, Stockton, and Sacramento regions of California.


At the June 8, 1954 meeting, Brother Harold Jones, Regional Director, was in attendance to hear their request to form a graduate chapter in Sacramento. At this meeting, Brother Jones suggested creating a graduate chapter with an undergraduate pledge club affiliate until the undergraduates could develop their branches.


At a meeting on September 9, 1954, Brother Nance presented the chapter petition in final form. A discussion followed as to whether the names of all brothers should be submitted regardless of graduate or undergraduate status. After an investigation, it was revealed that all brothers present were of graduate status. An initial fee of $17.00 was established, covering grand tax, charter, and reinstatement fees. A bank account was opened on October 5, 1954. Brother Trent was appointed to draft a constitution for the chapter. Brothers Brewer and Morris were selected to assist.

In November 1954, Brother Harold Jones, Regional Director, informed the group that negotiations were on schedule for the charter and the group should plan for a ceremony in Sacramento. Brother Brower recommended securing the Burgemeister Clubhouse for the ceremony. The charter celebration was scheduled for the 4th or 11th of December, or as soon as possible after receipt of the charter. At this meeting, two visiting brothers were present, Brother Byron Rumford, State Assemblyman from Oakland, and Brother William Walker from Camp Beale.


At the December 13, 1954 meeting and in anticipation of the charter being granted, the house was open for nominations and elections of officers. The chapter name is unknown at this point. The first elected offers were:


  • Brother Don Nance, President,

  • Brother Roscoe Brewer, Vice President,

  • Brother James Morris, Secretary/Treasurer, and

  • Brother James Garner, Sergeant-At-Arms.


The charter was granted by the general organization of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc to establish a chapter known as Zeta Beta Lambda of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated. The Charter members of the Zeta Beta Lambda Chapter are Edward E. Aubert, Roscoe C. Brewer, DDS, James F. Garner, M.D. Arthur G. Johnson, Hovey Don Moore, Don H. Nance, Arthur B. Trent, Jr., M.D., J.Winston Bolden, George C. Coker, George M. Hubbard, Capt, Kenneth M. Johnson, M.D., James M. Morris, DDS, George S. Stewart, DDS. The charter was dated December 22, 1954.


This was the beginning of our illustrious chapter as it has grown from infancy to its present status today. We are proud of the brothers who gave us this gift more than 50 years ago. We are destined to continue in the Spirit of Alpha and continue to seek greater heights as far as our involvement socially, economically, and politically.

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