Iota Phi Theta
IOTA PHI THETA FRATERNITY, INC. was founded in 1963 at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. A nationally incorporated social/service fraternity, Iota Phi Theta was founded upon the purpose of "The Development and Perpetuation of Scholarship, Leadership, Citizenship, Fidelity and Brotherhood among Men." The Fraternity presently consists over 180 undergraduate and alumni chapters with approximately 17,000 members located in over 40 states and the District of Columbia.
Iota Phi Theta is a true product of the times during which it was founded. The early 1960's were a time of intense struggle and conflict. The Civil Rights movement was in full bloom and African-Americans were making their presence felt in bold new ways. There was a surge in Black Pride and the desire of Black empowerment had reached an all-time high. Iota Phi Theta was a direct outgrowth of this aggressive call for validation, fairness and equal rights. In fact, the Founders of Iota Phi Theta considered themselves "Militant" before the term was widely embraced.
The founders of Iota Phi Theta were: Albert Hicks, Lonnie Spruill, Jr., Charles Briscoe, Frank Coakley, John Slade, Barron Willis, Webster Lewis, Charles Brown, Louis Hudnell, Charles Gregory, Elias Dorsey, Jr. and Michael Williams. This group of men was unique for several reasons. First of all, many were long-time friends. Spruill, Coakley, Dorsey and Gregory had known one another since grade school, and Spruill and Coakley's friendship extended to when the two were pre-schoolers.
Even more uniquely, many of these men were what are not referred to as "Non-Traditional" students and were 3-5 years older than the average college student. Gregory, Willis and Brown were all service veterans, and Brown, Hicks and Briscoe were married with small children. Of this group of 12, several were also working full-time jobs and all were full-time students. Based upon their ages, heightened responsibilities, and increased level of maturity, this group had a slightly different perspective than the norm for college students. This perspective has continued to the present day and remains a differentiator for the Iota Phi Theta. It is embodied in all activities of the organization and is crystallized in the Fraternity's motto, "Building a Tradition, Not Resting Upon One!"