Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. had its humble beginnings as the vision of nine college students on the campus of Howard University in 1908. Confined to what she called “a small circumscribed life” in the segregated and male-dominated milieu that characterized the early 1900s, co-ed Ethel Hedgeman dreamed of creating a support network for women with like minds coming together for mutual uplift, and coalescing their talents and strengths for the benefit of others. In 1908, her vision crystallized as Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first Negro Greek-letter sorority. Five years later (1913), lead incorporator Nellie Quander ensured Alpha Kappa Alpha’s perpetuity through incorporation in the District of Columbia.
Together with eight other coeds at the mecca for Negro education, Hedgeman crafted a design that not only fostered interaction, stimulation, and ethical growth among members, but also provided hope for the masses. From the core group of nine, AKA has grown into a force of more than 290,000 collegiate members and alumnae, constituting 1,007 chapters in 42 states, the District of Columbia, the US Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Germany, Liberia, South Korea, Japan, Canada, South Africa and the Middle East.
Because they believed that Negro college women represented “the highest —more education, more enlightenment, and more of almost everything that the great mass of Negroes never had” — Hedgeman and her cohorts worked to honor what she called “an everlasting debt to raise them (Negroes) up and to make them better.” For more than a century, the Alpha Kappa Alpha sisterhood has fulfilled that obligation by becoming an indomitable force for good in their communities, states, nations, and the world.
The Alpha Kappa Alpha program today still reflects the communal consciousness steeped in the AKA tradition and embodied in AKA’s credo, “To be supreme in service to all mankind.” Through the years, Alpha Kappa Alpha has used the sisterhood as a grand lever to raise the status of African-Americans, particularly girls and women. AKA has enriched minds and encouraged life-long learning; provided aid for the poor, the sick, and underserved; initiated social action to advance human and civil rights; worked collaboratively with other groups to maximize outreach on progressive endeavors; and continually produced leaders to continue its credo of service.
Guided by twenty-nine international presidents from Nellie M. Quander (1913-1919) to Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson (2014-2018), with reinforcement from a professional headquarters staff since 1949, Alpha Kappa Alpha has maintained its focus in two key areas:
The lifelong personal and professional development of each of its members, and galvanizing its membership into an organization of respected power and influence.
Consistently being at the forefront of effective advocacy and social change that results in equality and equity for all citizens of the world.