National Institute on Aging

Nation’s Oldest Black Fraternity Honors Its “Mother”

Robert Harold Ogle

Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity is the oldest Black Greek-letter organization in the United States. It was established by seven Black students at Cornell University in 1906. At that time, the Black students were not permitted to live in university housing. One of the founders of the fraternity, Robert Harold Ogle, rented a room from Archie and Annie Singleton near the campus. The founders of the fraternity often met at the Singleton home and were fed and nurtured by Annie Singleton.

In 1939, during the fraternity’s annual convention in New York City, Alpha Phi Alpha named Annie Singleton the “Mother of the Fraternity.” She died in 1960.

Last year, on the 50th anniversary of Annie Singleton’s death, the fraternity decided to fund and place a new headstone on her grave in the Forest Lawn cemetery in Buffalo, New York. Recently, 50 members of the fraternity held a ceremony at the grave to dedicate the new headstone.


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