The First Black Sorority was formed on the campus of Howard University. The brainchild of Ethel Hedgeman, Hedgeman approached eight other women in the Liberal Arts School and soon Alpha Kappa Alpha was established as a Greek-letter organization in 1908. Founding members included Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, Beulah E. & Lillie Burke, Margaret Flagg Holmes, Marjorie Hill, Lucy Diggs Slowe, Marie Woolfolk Taylor, Anna Easter Brown, and Lavinia Norman.
Initially seen as a source for enhancing the social and academic life of its members, it soon expanded its horizons to include enhancing the lives of those in the community. It was the second Greek-letter group established on campus, the first being Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
In 1912, the undergraduate group embarked upon a plan to take the sorority in a different direction and decided to change the name as well as the symbols associated with it. One graduate member, Nellie Quander, opposed the change. She rallied the graduates together all of whom remained firm in their commitment to Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA).
The AKA’s were the first to incorporate in 1913, and since, the organization has evolved into an affiliation of college educated women committed to academic excellence, ethics, mentoring and public service. Today, the sorority has an impressive membership of more than 170,000 women in the United States, the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa (Ross, 2000).