Iota Phi Theta Fraternity (ΙΦΘ) Incorporated is a nationally incorporated, historically African-American, collegiate fraternity. It was founded on September 19, 1963 at Morgan State University (then Morgan State College) in Baltimore, Maryland . At present, it consists of over 70,000 members. There are currently over 300 undergraduate and alumni chapters, as well as colonies located in 40 US states, the District of Columbia, the Bahamas, Japan and South Korea.
The fraternity holds membership in the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), an umbrella organization comprising nine International Historically African-American Greek letter Sororities and Fraternities, and the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC). The Centaur Magazine is the official publication of the Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. First published as a newsletter, the Centaur has evolved into a biannual magazine.
The fraternity was founded by 12 men—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—in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement even though there were already 4 other prominent Historically Black Fraternities at the time. Influences included organizations such as the Black Panthers, SNCC, plus individuals like Malcolm X, and Stokely Carmichael. Iota brothers participated in various protests and sit-ins throughout the city of Baltimore. The Iota founders were distinguished from their peers as they were all non-traditional students. Three to five years older than their peers, many had served in the military, worked full-time while attending classes full-time, and had families with small children. These elements gave the Founders a different perspective than the typical fraternity member.
On September 19, 1963, in the height of the Civil Rights’ Movement, these twelve founders gathered together on the steps of Hurt Gymnasium on the campus of Morgan State College (now known as Morgan State University) and formed Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. The fraternity was formed as a support system for men of color during the turbulent U.S. social climate of the time.
Iota Phi Theta sought to eradicate segregation with a protest that was organized against the Northwood Shopping Center in Baltimore, Maryland shortly after its founding. Big Brothers of America was supported throughout the 1960s and 1970s.In fact, in 1974, then Grand Polaris, Thomas Dean appeared in a local television commercial on behalf of Big Brothers of America. Their idealism continues to strive with service initiatives to involve the fraternity with the NAACP, The United Negro College Fund, The National Sickle Cell Foundation, The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, The National Federation of the Blind, and Project IMAGE. Most recently, the establishment of the National IOTA Foundation and Iota Youth Alliance helped extend Iota Phi Theta idealism regarding service and the building of traditions in the community.In 1992, the fraternity established the National Iota Foundation, a Tax-Exempt entity whose purpose is to assist the needy through scholarships and other financial assistance. Since its creation, the foundation has distributed over $250,000 in programs and services. They have a strong commitment to bring about empowerment to the African American community.
Since its founding date, Iota Phi Theta has continued to grow and has become the fifth-largest, and fastest growing predominantly black fraternal organization in the United States. As of now, there are over 70,000 members in the United States and overseas. A key appeal of Iota Phi Theta is, as an organization, it refuses to have its members bind themselves to a defined fraternal image but celebrates the individuality of its members. More importantly, its members continue to build upon the fraternity’s commitment to success and excellence with individual and collective achievements in such fields as politics, education, law, business, healthcare and the performing arts. September 19, 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc.
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Iota Phi Theta (ΙΦΘ)
- Founded On: September 19th, 1963 at Morgan State University
- Type: Social Fraternity
- Colors: Charcoal Brown and Gilded Gold
- Flower: Yellow Rose
- Nicknames: Iotas-Outlaws
- Chapters: 300+ Chapters
- Website: www.iotaphitheta.org
- Motto: Χτίζοντας μια παράδοση, που δεν στηρίζεται πάνω σε ένα! — “Building A Tradition, Not Resting Upon One!”