GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — In honor of the first day of Black History Month, the Iota Epsilon chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. joined Weekend Daybreak to discuss the organization’s impact on the community.
Alpha Phi Alpha is the first intercollegiate Greek-letter organization for African American men. It was founded at Cornell University December 4, 1906. Since then, brothers have founded several undergraduate chapters at different colleges and universities. The brothers of the Iota Epsilon chapter are affiliated with Grand Valley State University.
Collin Louis, president of the IE chapter, said historically black fraternities, like Alpha Phi Alpha, were first created for black men who were not allowed to join other fraternities because of the color of their skin.
“The things that African Americans were facing during that time period, especially at predominantly white institutions, was discrimination, stereotypes and racism, and they needed a way to overcome these things,” said Louis.
Louis told News 8 he admires several men who pledged the fraternity. He identified Dr. Henry Arthur Callis, a founding father, as a man he admires because of his involvement in medicine. Louis, too, wants to be a physician. Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., another notable member of the fraternity, also inspires Louis.
“[I admire him for] his activism and revolutionary ways he produced the Civil Rights Movement,” said Louis.
The young men in the chapter are committed to community service. They most recently delivered cases of water to Flint, in hopes of providing a little more access to clean water.
“We actually collected over 400 cases of water for those who are struggling and do different community service to better everything around us,” said Louis.
Before they left WOOD TV8 studios, the brothers stepped. It’s a cultural element to the fraternity that distinguishes them from other organizations.