HISTORY OF Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity was founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C., January 9, 1914, by three young African-American male students. The Founders, Honorable A. Langston Taylor, Honorable Leonard F. Morse, and Honorable Charles I. Brown, wanted to organize a Greek letter fraternity that would truly exemplify the ideals 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” the general community. They believed that each potential member should be judged by his own merits, rather than his family background or affluence…without regard to race, nationality, skin tone or texture of hair. They desired for their fraternity to exist as part of an even greater brotherhood which would be devoted to the “inclusive we” rather than the “exclusive we”.

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, they held a 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’s motto, “Culture For Service and Service For Humanity”.

Today, Phi Beta Sigma has blossomed into an international organization of leaders. No longer a single entity, members of the Fraternity have been instrumental in the establishment of the Phi Beta Sigma National Foundation, the Phi Beta Sigma Federal Credit Union and The Sigma Beta Club Foundation. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, founded in 1920 with the assistance of Phi Beta Sigma, is the sister organization of the Fraternity.

MISSION Statement

The brothers of Phi Beta Sigma are the Fraternity’s most valuable resource and strength. They are the primary means by which the Phi Beta Sigma objectives will be achieved. In order to accomplish the Fraternity’s objectives, it is essential that systems are instituted that effectively embody “Culture For Service and Service For Humanity” and promote brotherhood, scholarship and service.

To optimize Phi Beta Sigma’s effectiveness, the Fraternity will:

  • Strengthen and serve proactively the brotherhood, as a supportive resource that positively impacts the Fraternity’s growth and financial solvency.
  • Reaffirm and maintain a strong commitment to brotherhood, scholarship and service.
  • Ensure that the Fraternity programs are focused and committed to serving humanity.
  • Create an environment that respects the dignity and worth of each brother.
  • Exhibit integrity and ethical behavior in conducting the Fraternity’s business. serving as a model for all Greek-letter organizations.
  • Maintain and improve the Fraternity’s technological literacy, in order to better service its members and the community at large.
  • Foster and nurture our constitutional bond with
    Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
  • Encourage a closer and mutually beneficial working relationship with fellow Greek-letter organizations, other community service organizations, businesses and government.
  • Select leaders who are committed and have demonstrated their ability to lead.


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…

  • First to have Presidents of other countries in its membership (Bros. Kwame Nkrumah, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, and Nelson Mandela).
  • First Greek-letter Fraternity to be recognized by Howard University April 15, 1914. (Omega Psi Phi wasn’t until October 28, 1914)
  • First to hold a joint International Convention with another African-American Fraternity (Omega Psi Phi)
  • First to be offered a chance to merge with another Fraternity (Kappa Alpha Psi…Thanks, but no thanks!!!)
  • First to establish a chapter South of the State of Virginia before the year 1915.
  • First and ONLY Black Greek Letter Fraternity to establish a constitutional bond with a Sorority (Zeta Phi Beta)
  • First to establish a youth auxiliary program (Sigma Beta Club)
  • First to own and operate a Credit Union for its members
  • 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
  • First to establish chapters in the Continent of Africa
  • First to establish Graduate/Alumni Membership
  • First to establish an Graduate/Alumni Chapter
  • First to use the cane . . . (it was used for style)
  • First to use the Dogmatic Image (not the Q’s)
  • First to come with the idea for the N.P.H.C. (National Pan-Hellenic Council)
  • 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.