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    A Brief History of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.

    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.

    January 9, 1914 › ESTABLISHMENT
    January 29, 1890 – August 8, 1953


    A. Langston Taylor, the founder of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He graduated from the Howe Institute in 1909 which is now Lemoyne-Owen College in Memphis. He received his college and professional training at Howard and Frelinghuysen University in Washington, D.C.

    Founder Taylor chose business for his life’s career and from 1917 to 1926 he conducted a real estate and insurance business. He was the Secretary-Treasurer of the Potomac Investment Company, Director of the Federal Life Insurance Company and President of the Taylor Tobacco Company.

    Founder Taylor coined “Culture for Service, Service for Humanity”. He began serving humanity by founding Sigma, to which he gave twelve consecutive years of service as a National Officer, serving as National President, National Treasurer, National Secretary and Field Secretary. He also served as President of the Distinguished Service Chapter.

    Brothers have described our Founder as distinguished, poised and truly a hard worker. The members of the Alpha Sigma chapter called Founder Taylor “Prof”, short for professor, because he was always carrying a book, files or reading. He held offices and was instrumental in the following organizations: The Washington Art Society, The Derby Club, The Banneker Research Society, The Mu-So-Lit Club and the Tennessee State Club.

    A tireless worker, he worked hard to see that Sigma maintained its illustrious history, by serving on the history committee and providing numerous forms of notes, minutes and oral history to those who served with him. Founder Taylor retired from federal service from the Smithsonian Institute.

    Founder Taylor is buried at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Suitland, Maryland (right outside of Washington, D.C.). His gravesite sits at the highest peak.

    January 12, 1891 – May 22, 1961


    Leonard F. Morse was the proud son of a distinguished New England family, Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Morse of Boston, Massachusetts. Trained in the elementary and secondary schools of New Bedford, Massachusetts, he became the valedictorian of his integrated high school and entered Howard University. In 1915, he graduated from Howard University and was the first person to graduate in 3 years with an A.B and a B.Ed degree.

    Later, the degree of Bachelor of Divinity was conferred upon him by the Payne School of Divinity, Wilberforce University. He received his Master’s degree from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and the degrees of Doctor of Metaphysics and the Doctor of Psychology from the College of Metaphysics, Indianapolis, Indiana. The Honorary Degree of D.D. was conferred at Allen University, Columbia, South Carolina, and the LLD at Edward Waters College, Jacksonville, Florida.

    An outstanding educator and prophet, he lived a busy and resourceful life, having served in many institutions and areas of educational and religious life. He was Dean of Theology at Edward Waters College, Head of the Department of Religious Studies, President of Edward Waters and a Mason. Founder Morse founded and chartered numerous Sigma Chapters especially in Florida.

    Founder Morse was a student of the Greek language, and he named our beloved fraternity. In addition, he wrote Sigma’s first constitution and was the first president of Alpha Chapter. In the 1915 Howard University yearbook entitled “The Mirror”, Founder Morse had listed by his name the following: Director of Social Service, YMCA, 1913-1914; Organizer and President of Phi Beta Sigma, 1914-15; President, Young Men’s Progressive Club, 1914-15; tutor of languages and history.

    Founder Morse was married and had five children, two of which are Brothers in this fraternity. Most recently his grandson became a Sigma. Leonard F. Morse was the last living Founder of Phi Beta Sigma. In the 1915 Howard University yearbook, Founder Morse left us with “Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep.

    August 27, 1890 – December 21, 1981


    According to the 1914 Howard University yearbook, Founder Charles I. Brown is documented as Finished Howard Academy, 1910; Class Chaplain, 1913; Chaplain Classical Club, 1912-1913; President Classical Club, 1914; Vice-President Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, 1914; will do post-graduate work in Latin. In addition, Founder Brown was chosen “The Most To Be Admired” for the Class of 1914.

    Founder Brown is said to have been born in Topeka, Kansas in 1890. Census records show that his father was Rev. John M. Brown and that his mother was Maggie M. Brown. However, records at Howard University from 1910 have Founder Brown living at 1813 Titan Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    He was very cordial and very popular with the student body and Howard University administration. He is credited with choosing the nine charter members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. Founder Brown founded the Delta Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, on April 9, 1917 and was a teacher at the Kansas Industrial School for Negroes in Topeka, Kansas.

    Census records and oral interviews have showed us that Founder Brown was alive in the Topeka, Kansas area until 1931. Some believe that he was a casualty of the First World War; others believe that he moved overseas. In the spring of 1949, Founder Leonard F. Morse wrote “We live in daily hope that we shall one day learn the fate of our beloved Brother and Founder”.

    In the 1914 Howard University yearbook, under the Personals and Applied Quotations section, Founder Brown left us with this, “No legacy is so rich as honesty”. Founder Brown graduated from Howard University on June 3, 1914. The last correspondence that the fraternity received from him was a letter to Founder Taylor in 1924, in which Founder Brown indicated that he was teaching in Kansas.

    It was the hope of every Sigma Man, that Founder Brown went on to live a productive and fruitful life – but the story of his disappearance, along with the rumors of what may have happened, continued in the organization for over 80 years.

    In the year 2015, the breakthrough occurred. With the small group of Sigma Brothers who started the search at the grass-roots level, along with the professionals that aided the movement, and with the full support of the Fraternity… Founder Charles Ignatius Brown was found!



    • The Regional Vice Presidents of the Eastern Region 1926-1946 (incomplete)
    • Thomas Harris Reid, Esq. (Beta Sigma Chapter - Portsmouth, VA) - 1926-?
    • Thomas H. Wright (Newark, NJ) – 1930
    • James W. Johnson, Esq. (Epsilon Sigma Chapter - New York, NY) - 1935-1936 *not James Weldon Johnson
    • Robert J. Hill, MD - (Zeta Sigma Chapter - Baltimore, MD) - 1937-1939
    • C.P. Johnson (Epsilon Sigma Chapter - New York, NY) - 1941
    • E. Rudolphus Clemens (Nu Sigma Chapter - Philadelphia, PA) - 1942




    1. Bro. J. Edgar Smith (Alpha Sigma, Washington, D.C) 1946-1947
    2. Bro. William E. Doar, Jr. (Kappa Beta Sigma, Brooklyn, NY) 1947-1949
    3. Bro. Woodrow W. Carter (Epsilon Sigma, New York, NY) 1949-1951
    4. Bro. Edgar B. Felton (Epsilon Sigma, New York, NY) 1951-1954
    5. Bro. Parlett L. Moore (Zeta Sigma, Baltimore, MD) 1954-195, 20th International President (1971-1973)
    6. Bro. Clifton Felton (Alpha Sigma, Washington, D.C) 1959-1962
    7. Bro. Samuel B. Newton (Zeta Sigma, Baltimore, MD) 1962-1967
    8. Bro. Richard M. Ballard, Jr. (Iota Sigma, Richmond, VA) 1967-1970, 22nd International President (1977-1979)
    9. Bro. Dr. Gilbert H. Francis (Kappa Beta Sigma, Brooklyn, NY) 1970-1973, President of NPHC (1983-1985)
    10. Bro. Guilbert A. Daley (Zeta Sigma, Baltimore, MD) 1973-1975
    11. Bro. Clayton McNeil (Epsilon Nu Sigma, Baltimore County, MD) 1975-1978
    12. Bro. Gerald D. Smith (Alpha Sigma, Washington, D.C) 1978
    13. Bro. Francis James (Epsilon Nu Sigma, Baltimore County, MD) 1978-1980
    14. Bro. Moses McClendon (Iota Sigma, Richmond, VA) 1980-1982, 26th International President (1987-1989)
    15. Bro. Dr. Archie J. Powell (Pi Beta Sigma, Boston, MA) 1982-1985
    16. Bro. Peter Adams, Esq. (Kappa Beta Sigma, Brooklyn, NY) 1985-1988, 30th International President (1998-2001)
    17. Bro. T. Harding Lacy, Jr. (Iota Sigma, Richmond, VA) 1988-1991
    18. Bro. Robert Greaux (Chi Sigma, Newark, NJ) 1991 -1994
    19. Bro. Marvin 'Doc' Cheatham (Zeta Sigma, Baltimore, MD) 1994-1997
    20. Bro. Daniel J. Tann, Esq. (Nu Sigma, Philadelphia, PA) 1997-2001
    21. Bro. Scherod Barnes (Zeta Sigma, Baltimore, MD) 2001-2003
    22. Bro. William L. Powell, Jr. (Zeta Sigma, Baltimore, MD) 2003-2004
    23. Bro. Greville H. French (Epsilon Sigma, Brooklyn, NY) 2004-2008
    24. Bro. Darryl T. Williams (Kappa Upsilon Sigma, Southern New Jersey, NJ) 2008-2011
    25. Bro. Leonard O. Lockhart (Delta Pi Sigma, Hartford, CT) 2011- 2016
    26. Bro. Devon Henry (Iota Sigma, Richmond, VA) 2016 -