Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. was founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C. on January 9, 1914 by three daring, young black students. The Founders, Most Honorable A. Langston Taylor, Most Honorable Leonard F. Morse, and Most Honorable Charles I. Brown, wanted to organize a Greek letter fraternity that would truly exemplify the ideas of Brotherhood, Scholarship, and Service.The Founders deeply wished to create an organization that viewed itself as a part of the general community rather than apart from it. They believed that individuals should be judged on their own merits rather that their family background, without regard of race, nationality, color, skin tone, or hair texture. They wanted their fraternity to exist as a part of an even greater brotherhood which would be devoted to the "inclusive we" rather than the "exclusive we". From the beginning, the founders conceived Phi Beta Sigma as a mechanism to deliver services to the greater community. Rather than gaining skills to be utilized exclusively for themselves and their immediate families, the founders of Phi Beta Sigma held the deep conviction that they should return to their newly acquired skills to the community from which they had come. This deep conviction was mirrored in our fraternity motto, "Culture for Service and Service for Humanity". From its inception, the founders also conceived Phi Beta Sigma as a mechanism to deliver services to the general community. Rather than gaining skills to be utilized exclusively for themselves and their immediate families, the founders of Phi Beta Sigma held the deep conviction that they should return their newly acquired skills to the communities from which they had come. This deep conviction was mirrored in the fraternity motto, "Culture For Service and Service For Humanity." Today, more than three-quarters of a century later, Phi Beta Sigma has blossomed into an international organization of leaders. No longer a single entity, the fraternity has now established the Phi Beta Sigma Educational Foundation, Inc. and the Phi Beta Sigma Federal Credit Union (to build financial equity within our target communities). With the force, vigor, power and energy of its more than 100,000 dedicated men united in more than 700 chapters across the United States, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean, Phi Beta Sigma continues to faithfully perpetuate composite growth and progress as the "people's fraternity" dedicated to providing services to all humanity.
Founder A. Langston Taylor One of the three founders of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He graduated from the Howe Institute in 1909 which is now Lemoyne-Owen College in Memphis. He received his college and professional training at Howard and Frelinghuysen University in Washington, D.C. Founder Taylor chose business for his life's career and from 1917 to 1926 he conducted a real estate and insurance business. For he was the Secretary-Treasurer of the Potomac Investment Company, Director of the Federal Life Insurance Company and President of the Taylor Tobacco Company. Founder Taylor coined "Culture for Service, Service for Humanity". He began serving Humanity by the founding of Sigma, to which he gave twelve consecutive years of service as a National Officer, serving as National President, National Treasurer, National Secretary, and Field Secretary. He also served as President of the Distinguished Service Chapter. Brothers have described our Founder as distinguished, poised, and truly a hard worker. The members of Alpha Sigma Chapter called Founder Taylor "Prof" short for professor, because he was always carrying a book, files, or reading. He was instrumental and held offices in the following organizations; The Washington Art Society, The Derby Club, The Banneker Research Society, The Mu-So-Lit Club, and the Tennessee State Club. Founder Taylor is buried at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Suit land, Maryland (right outside of Washington, DC). His grave-site sits at the highest peak. Founder Dr. Leonard F. Morse Founder Morse trained in the elementary and secondary schools of New Bedford, Massachusetts, he became the valedictorian of his integrated high school and entered Howard University. In 1915, he graduated from Howard University and was the first person to graduate in 3 years with an A.B and B.Ed degrees. Later, the degree of Bachelor of Divinity was conferred upon him by the Payne School of Divinity, Wilberforce University. He received his Master's degree from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and the degrees of Doctor of Metaphysics and the Doctor of Psychology from the College of Metaphysics, Indianapolis, Indiana. The Honorary Degree of D.D. was conferred at Allen University, Columbia, SC, and the LLD at Edward Waters College, Jacksonville, FL. Founder Morse was a student of the Greek language and he named our beloved fraternity. In addition, he wrote Sigma's first constitution and was the first president of Alpha Chapter. In the 1915 Howard University Yearbook, entitled "The Mirror", Founder Morse has listed by his name the following: Director of Social Service, YMCA, 1913-1914. Organizer and President of Phi Beta Sigma, 1914-15. President, Young Men's Progressive Club, 1914-15, tutor of languages and history. In the 1915 Howard University Yearbook, Founder Morse left us with "Smooth Runs The Water Where the Brook is Deep." Founder Charles I. Brown According to the 1914 Howard University Yearbook,Founder Charles I. Brown is documented as Finished Howard Academy, 1910, Class Chaplain 1913; Chaplain Classical Club 1912, 1913; President Classical Club 1914; Vice-President Phi Beta Sigma, 1914. Will do post- graduate work in Latin. In addition, Founder Brown was chosen "The Most To Be Admired" for the Class of 1914. Founder Brown is said to have been born in Topeka, Kansas in 1890. Census records show that his father was Rev. John M. Brown and that his mother was Maggie M. Brown. However, records at Howard University from 1910 have Founder Brown living at 1813 Titan Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was very cordial and very popular with the student body and Howard University Administration. Founder Brown founded the Delta Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, on April 9, 1917, and through oral interviews was a teacher at the Kansas Industrial School for Negroes in Topeka, Kansas. Census records and oral interviews have showed us that Founder Brown was alive in the Topeka, Kansas area until 1931. Some believe that he was a casualty of the First World War; others believe that he moved overseas. In the 1914 Howard University Yearbook, under the Personals and Applied Quotations Section, Founder Brown left us with this quotation 'No legacy is so rich as honesty."Founder Brown graduated from Howard University on June 3, 1914. The last correspondence that the fraternity received from him was a letter to Founder Taylor in 1924, in which Founder Brown indicated that he was teaching in Kansas.
Fraternity Of Firsts
We are often called the Fraternity of African Presidents, Kings and Princes. We weren't the first African-American Greek-Letter Fraternity to be founded... However, we are definitely the Fraternity of Firsts...
I) First to have Presidents of other countries in its membership (Bros. Kwame Nkrumah, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, and Nelson Mandela). II) First Greek-letter Fraternity to be recognized by Howard University April 15, 1914. (Omega Psi Phi wasn't until October 28, 1914) III) First to hold a joint International Convention with another African-American Fraternity (Omega Psi Phi) IV) First to be offered a chance to merge with another Fraternity (Kappa Alpha Psi...Thanks, but no thanks!!!) V) First to establish a chapter South of the State of Virginia before the year 1915. VI) First and ONLY Black Greek Letter Fraternity to establish a constitutional bond with a Sorority (Zeta Phi Beta) VII) First to establish a youth auxiliary program (Sigma Beta Club) VIII) First to own and operate a Credit Union for its members IX) First and ONLY Black Greek-Letter Fraternity to have one of its members on the face of a U.S. Coin. (George Washington Carver: The 1951 Half Dollar) Only 2 African Americans have EVER been on the face of a US coin: George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington--who was not Greek X) First to establish chapters in the Continent of Africa XI) First to establish Graduate/Alumni Membership XII) First to establish an Graduate/Alumni Chapter XIII) First to use the cane . . . (it was used for style) XIII) First to use the Dogmatic Image (not the Q's) XIV) First to come with the idea for the N.P.H.C. (National Pan-Hellenic Council) XV) Lastly, many Fraternities may have supported the Million-Man March, but only PHI BETA SIGMA FRATERNITY, INCORPORATED can lay claim to not only supporting, but also sponsoring the March in its International Headquarters.