Firsts

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Earl Lloyd

Earl Lloyd

Jackie Robinson, the man who broke Major League Baseball’s color line, ranks as a national icon. Filmmaker Ken Burns go so far as to compare Robinson to Thomas Jefferson.  Earl Lloyd, the first African-American to play in the National Basketball Association, ranks as a largely overlooked pioneer.

Lloyd started at power forward – with an emphasis on power – for the 1954-55 NBA champion Syracuse Nationals, who moved to Philadelphia in 1963 to become the 76ers. Lloyd now lives in a retirement community in Crossville, Tenn. He’s a major, if obscure, figure in NBA history.

He doesn’t mind his low profile. Lloyd has no interest in standing beside Robinson in the nation’s memory. Standing there would only make him nervous.  Continue reading

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority


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). Continue reading

Omega Psi Phi Fraternity

Omega Psi Phi Founders

Omega Psi Phi (ΩΨΦ) is an international fraternity with over 700 undergraduate and graduate chapters. The fraternity was founded on November 17, 1911 by three Howard University juniors, Edgar Amos Love, Oscar James Cooper and Frank Coleman, and their faculty adviser, Dr. Ernest Everett Just. Omega Psi Phi is the first predominantly African-American fraternity to be founded at a historically black university.

Since its founding, the Fraternity’s stated purpose has been to attract and build a strong and effective force of men dedicated to its Cardinal Principles of manhood, scholarship, perseverance, and uplift. Throughout the world, many notable members are recognized as leaders in the arts, academics, athletics, entertainment, business, civil rights, education, government, and science fields. Continue reading

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity

Alpha Phi Alpha is the first Black, Inter-Collegiate Greek-Lettered fraternity. It was founded on December 4, 1906 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Its founders are known as the “Seven Jewels”. Alpha Phi Alpha developed a model that was used by the many Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLOs) that soon followed in its footsteps. It employs an icon from Ancient Egypt, the Great Sphinx of Giza as its symbol, and its aims are “manly deeds, scholarship, and love for all mankind,” and its motto is First of All, Servants of All, We Shall Transcend All. Its archives are preserved at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center.

Chapters were chartered at Howard University and Virginia Union University in 1907. The fraternity has over 185,000 members and has been open to men of all races since 1940. Currently, there are more than 730 active chapters in the Americas, Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, and Asia. Continue reading

Larry Doby

Larry Doby

Born on Dec. 13, 1923, in Camden, S.C., Doby grew up in New Jersey. He didn’t start out in life longing for a career in professional baseball. He once said that he grew up wanting to teach and coach in high school.

But in 1942, a Negro League umpire recommended to the owner of the Newark Eagles that Doby, still in high school at the time, get a tryout. “They gave me a tryout, and I made the team,” Doby said. “That’s how I got involved in Negro League Baseball.”

Doby proved he was star material early in his Negro League days. He was an All-Star second baseman whose baseball credentials might have been better than Robinson’s.  Continue reading

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