Michigan's Story: The History of Race at U-M
Groups and Clubs
Alpha Phi Alpha
Alpha Phi Alpha was established on April 9, 1909, becoming the earliest known U-M African American fraternity.
Delta Sigma Theta
Delta Sigma Theta is founded on April 7, 1921 becoming the earliest known U-M African American sorority.
In Michigan Today, June 24, 2014, historian James Tobin writes about the struggles leading to the founding of the Negro-Caucasian Club in 1926. Friends Lenoir Bertrice Smith, an African American, and Edith Kaplan, a white student, were denied service in a restaurant near campus. With the help of a young faculty member, Oakley Johnson, they sought recourse with the dean of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. The dean sympathized with their situation but made no effort to improve the situation with local businesses. Smith and Kaplan, with Johnson's help, set out to recruit both black and white students in forming the Negro-Caucasian Club of the University of Michigan. This may have been the first such student group on an American college campus.
Alpha Kappa Alpha
U-M's Beta Eta chapter was the 100th chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha and was founded on Saturday June 3, 1933. Charter members were: Mabel C. James ’33, Ruth R. Birch ’34, Viola B. Goin ’34, Adele R. Jones ’34, and Olive E. Manly ’36.