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Old 06-12-2002, 12:11 PM
Professor Professor is offline
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SIGMA PI PHI: THE BOULE- The First Black Fraternity

SIGMA PI PHI: THE BOULE- The First Black Fraternity (on record)
What separates Sigma Pi Phi and Alpha Phi Alpha. One was the first black
fraternity for professional men and the latter the first for collegiate men.
The question still begs however is Sigma Pi Phi the ultimate fraternity for
African-American men or will Alpha or 100 Black Men do? For
men of stature and prominence is it the group you want to belong to? Men
such as Vernon Jordan(Omega), Andrew Young(Alpha), L. Douglas
Wilder(Omega), American Express President Kenneth Chenault, most black
college presidents and the most prominent physicians, attorneys, dentists, and
corporate leaders are members. They do not step or chant, you hardly ever see
any members in T-shirts or jackets with the Greek letters plastered on it. It has a
quarterly publication, and biennial conventions.

Membership is exclusive. There is no Smoker, no informational seminar, no
application packet, no cluster weekend, no lines, etc. It is one of the most
exclusive fraternities for African-American men. No, it is not Alpha, Kappa,
Omega or Sigma. It is called Sigma Pi Phi (the Boule). It was founded in 1904
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and its membership includes men from all Greek
letter organizations as well as those who are not. it is not just another
Greek letter organization according to Lawrence Otis Graham in his book "Our
Kind of People"

Dr. Henry Minton(who later joined Alpha Phi Alpha) invited five of his
colleagues, all doctors working in Philadelphia to join him in organizing a
social organization that would "bring together a select group of men with a
minimum degree of superior education and culture-men who were congenial,
tolerant, and hospitable." Minton was well educated and married into the
Wormley family of Washington. He was responsible for opening the first two
hospitals in Philadelphia, both Douglass and Mercy.

It's the organization most professional men want to join, but its membership
is invitational only. While 100 Black Men of America (of which I am a member
of) is invitational too, there is a distinguishable difference sometimes too
difficult to verbalize. Having socialize and presented to the members of
Sigma Pi Phi, the members are much older (in most cases and very well
established in their careers). In the meeting that I attended in Atlanta (the
chapter known as Kappa Boule), they feast on prime rib and the trimmings each
month and conduct the business with very little fanfare and discussion. They
all seem to be on one accord and no personal agendas, perhaps because they
have reached the highest point in their career. You very seldom read about
their activities in the news.

>From the Greek languages, they use terms such as
Boule- Council of Noblemen (or women as the AKA's also use the term for the
National Gatherings)
Archons- members of the Boule
Sire Archon- President of the Boule
Other officers are Grammateus, Thesauristes, Rhetoricus, etc.

One of our Alpha Brothers, the distinguished Dr. Huel Perkins, Executive
Assistant to the Chancellor at Louisiana State University and a graduate of
Southern University, residing in Baton Rouge served as the Sire
Archon(National President of Sigma Pi Phi) a few years ago. In my research,
there was no uncovering of physical or tangible evidence that proved that any
one of the Jewels were members of Sigma Pi Phi. I thought perhaps Jewel
Callis, but was unable to substantiate the claim as I researched his papers.
In addition, Dr. Charles Harris Wesley, who was a member and its Historian
makes no mention in his work on Callis or in the Boule's history book.
However, one half (15) of our 30 General Presidents were and are members of
"the Boule" including:

-4th General President Charles Garvin - Tau Boule, Cleveland, Ohio
-12th General President Raymond W. Cannon- Omicron Boule(Charter Member),

Minneapolis, Minn(who was a founding
member of his boule)
-13th General President B. Andrew Rose - Sigma Boule, Dayton, Ohio
-14th General President Charles Wesley- Sigma Boule(Dayton, Ohio) & Epsilon
Boule, Washington, DC
-15th General President Rayford W. Logan - Epsilon Boule(Washington,D.C.) &
Alpha Beta Boule-
-18th General President Frank L. Stanley- Psi Boule, Louisville, Kentucky
-19th General President Myles A. Paige- Xi Boule, New York City
-21st General President Thomas W. Cole - Beta Xi Boule, Central Florida
-22nd General President Lionel Hodge Newsom - Beta Delta Boule, Charlotte,
North Carolina
-23rd General President Ernest Morial - Alpha Alpha Boule, New Orleans,
-24th General President Walter Washington - Beta Gamma Boule, Jackson,
- 25th General President James Williams- Beta Rho Boule, Kent, Ohio
-27th General President Charles Teamer - Alpha Alpha Boule, New Orleans, LA
-28th General President Henry Ponder - Chi Boule(Nashville, Tenn) & Epsilon
-29th General President Milton C. Davis -(Tuskegee.Montogmery chapter)

*My apologies if any General President's name was omitted. These names were
compiled from several sources including their history book and other
biographical sources on the General Presidents.
Volume One of the History of Sigma Pi Phi was written by the illustrious Dr.
Charles Harris Wesley. It was published in 1954 to celebrate the
organizations 50th Anniversary. The Second volume was written by Alpha
brother Dr. Hobart Jarrett. It was published in the mid 1990s.

Additional Source:
Graham, Lawrence Otis. Our Kind of People. Harper Collins Publishers.
New York: 1999.
Schomburb Clipping File


"Education has surely failed us unless it has given the individual power and
strength and force of character necessary to go forward in reaching whatever
adjustment of the environment may be necessary.

Jewel Henry Arthur Callis (at a Go To High School/Go To College Mass Meeting
in Atlanta, Georgia, May 18, 1930)


"An unselfish body organized for wholly unselfish reasons and maintained on
the highest principles composed of men of honor with trained minds, is it not
a nucleus for wonderful organization of Negro men?

Frederick H. Miller, 3rd General President

written by Bro. Skip Mason
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Old 06-12-2002, 09:57 PM
AKA2D '91 AKA2D '91 is offline
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Thanks Professor for that information. I did know how Sigma Pi Phi came about and the difference between it (if you will) and Alpha Phi Alpha. You know, there is always that "debate." Heyyyy, don't interpret that as I know Alpha's bizness, b/c I do not. I just know that "general" info. LMAO. I'm not an authority on ya'll stuh, I'm not trying to know ya'll stuh.

Even though I'm not one to spend my spare time researching OTHER organizations (b/c AKA continues to keep me on my toes, so many things going on, therefore, I have to keep abreast of OUR goings on ) I was glad to see some familiar names. My mother's former teacher Dr. Perkins and Marc Morial's late father, Ernest aka "Dutch".

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Old 06-13-2002, 01:25 PM
The Original Ape The Original Ape is offline
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Cool For the record...

I had to clarify a bit of your information. Our 25th General President is from AKRON, OHIO; not Kent Ohio. He crossed at Alpha Tau(undergrad), and is currently a member of Eta Tau Lambda Chapter.
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Old 06-13-2002, 02:41 PM
Kimmie1913 Kimmie1913 is offline
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That was an interesting piece. I am always amazed at the debates that seem to go on about the relationship of A Phi A to Sigma Pi Phi. My father is both an Alpha and an Archon in the Boule. (Younget member ever of the Baltimore chapter- Yeah Daddy!) But the culture of the two has always been different to me.
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Old 06-14-2002, 01:42 PM
prayerfull prayerfull is offline
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Just FYI, Sigma Pi Phi has a national website that may be of interest of some to view. Here's the link:
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Old 06-15-2002, 12:26 PM
Blackwatch Blackwatch is offline
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Exclamation What's the big deal?

Personnally, I do not see the big deal concerning the Boule'. It seems to me to be a situation where people want to join because it signifies some kind of status in the black community. Many may argue that it is the same way with the "Pan" orgs, but one thing that seperates the Boule' is that membership is truely an elitist priviledge, only by invitation with no smokers, interest meetings, or any opportunity for the public at large to join. This seems to heighten the interest in the group. You cannot possibly know the workings of the Boule' without having an interest in it, because they do no publicize their workings or philanthropies. Any claims to be a community serviced based org. are discredited when the membership is only extended to certain "types" of people (or people who have reached a certain "level of success" in a "professional" field, in other words, rich!!!). This is the elitism that has plagued the "pan" for years but was only speculative at best, while this elitism is verifiable through the Boule'. I am not one to say that any group cannot discriminate in its membership, but when you base membershhip on the criterion of financial success, I often wonder what real purpose can you serve the black community. How much of the black community can afford to be members? Your career success and financial standing are no commentary on nor indication of your moral character, if indeed moral character is something that they consider when extending membership. I read several posts on the message board of the Boule' website, and one post seemed to sum up the whole Boule' ideal when a man, who I guess was trying to become a member, states in a closing remark "...continue to aspire to the high ideals of success, prosperity, and blessings." High ideals of success, prosperity and blessings? Where are the manly deeds, self sacrifice, service, righteousness, brotherly love, and all other altruistic themes that characterize fraternity? It seems to me that the boule' is a bunch of financially succesful men who relish in the power that they have to discriminate on that basis, and to have people panting after inclusion into this group. The black community does not need a "country club" mentality from the "talented tenth" of the black community. The Boule' to me is nothing more than a glorified status symbol, devoid of much true worth to the black community.

And I will probably start another thread concerning Brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha wanting to be in this group. WHY?????!!!!!!

Last edited by Blackwatch; 06-15-2002 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 06-15-2002, 12:54 PM
Blackwatch Blackwatch is offline
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Exclamation Alpha phi Alpha brothers wanting to be in the Boule

Jumping from the post about the Boule', I wanted to see what others thought about Men of Alpha Phi Alpha being in the Boule' and wanting to be in the Boule'. It seems to me when I talk to a brother who wants to be in the Boule', the question of why he joined Alpha (and how he got in ) pops up in my head. When a brother talks about wanting to be in the Boule and when I meet a brother in the Boule', I often wonder why he "accepted the invitation"(you can't join or "pledge") to the Boule' ? What is in the Boule' that is not in Alpha (other than a more exclusive and financially prosperous membership)? I think this just lends more to my theory that the Boule' is a status symbol, and possibly that brothers who want to be in the Boule' possibly see Alpha as a status symbol as well. What does everyone think?

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Old 06-16-2002, 08:03 PM
AKA2D '91 AKA2D '91 is offline
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I think that if someone wants to join Alpha (or any other organization other than Alpha) or the Boule, that's them. If they obtain membership OR if the body feels comfortable with inviting the person, then I do not have a problem with it at all.

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Old 06-17-2002, 09:33 AM
Professor Professor is offline
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Thumbs up

Alpha and the Boule are two very different organizations although both have history that is longstanding and noteworthy. I don't mind saying that I look forward to receiving an invitation in the near future. Much like Alpha, to be in the company of distinguished men is a great honor. For me, membership is just another avenue to represent Alpha and to network with black men that are about uplifting my people, which is always my reasoning for various associations. I do agree that there is prestige in membership of the Boule but there is also a great prestige in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
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Old 06-17-2002, 10:01 AM
Professor Professor is offline
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It is important to note that the Boule is a determining force in our community. Just because its membership mainly extends to Blacks with money does not make its members better than any one else. In fact, as you somewhat described, many folk see membership in BGLO hold similar perceptions that are often true. We both know that folk that hold membership to Alpha, Kappa or Omega, etc. tend to feel accomplished. In fact, my quest for Alpha was really based upon the fact that many Brothers that I know are remarkable in their careers, education and community. The Boule is just another avenue whereas membership is not exclusive to college educated men.

Also, I know for a fact that every member of the Boule is not wealthy by my description. Many are just accomplished and make ends meet. I certainly don't have the financial resources as some but I do bring other qualities and skills to the table.
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Old 06-19-2002, 11:52 PM
kingtut kingtut is offline
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Angry Once again wrong information

One thing that upsets me most about our people is how we are so quick to spit out wrong information. The first black frat was not the Boule it was the Prince Hall MASONS. The Prince Hall MASONS were actually founded not long after this country became a "country" in 1776. Not to step on anyones toes but if you think I'm lying do your own RESEARCH.

one love


"One should seek knowledge not have it have fed to him"
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Old 06-20-2002, 09:24 AM
Professor Professor is offline
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Prince Hall is recognized as the Father of Black Masonry in the United States. Historically, he
made it possible for Negroes to be recognized and enjoy all privileges of free and accepted

Many rumors of the birth of Prince Hall have arisen. A few records and papers have been
found of him in Barbados where it was rumored that he was born in 1748, but no record of
birth by church or by state, has been found there, and none in Boston. All 11 countries were
searched and churches with baptismal records were examined without finding the name of
Prince Hall.

One widely circulated rumor states that "Prince Hall was free born in British West Indies. His father, Thomas Prince
Hall, was an Englishman and his mother a free colored woman of French extraction. In 1765 he worked his passage on a
ship to Boston, where he worked as a leather worker, a trade learned from his father. During this time he married Sarah
Ritchery. Shortly after their marriage, she died at the age of 24. Eight years later he had acquired real estate and was
qualified to vote. Prince Hall also pressed John Hancock to be allowed to join the Continental Army and was one of a
few blacks who fought at the battle of Bunker Hill. Religiously inclined, he later became a minister in the African
Methodist Episcopal Church with a charge in Cambridge and fought for the abolition of slavery." Some accounts are
paraphrased from the generally discredited Grimshaw book of 1903.

Free Masonry among Black men began during the War of Independence, when Prince Hall and fourteen other free
black men were initiated into Lodge # 441, Irish Constitution, attached to the 38th Regiment of Foot, British Army
Garrisoned at Castle Williams (now Fort Independence) Boston Harbor on March 6, 1775. The Master of the Lodge
was Sergeant John Batt. Along with Prince Hall, the other newly made masons were Cyrus Johnson, Bueston Slinger,
Prince Rees, John Canton, Peter Freeman, Benjamin Tiler, Duff Ruform, Thomas Santerson, Prince Rayden, Cato
Spain, Boston Smith, Peter Best, Forten Howard and Richard Titley.

When the British Army left Boston, this Lodge, # 441, granted Prince Hall and his brethren authority to meet as a lodge,
to go in procession on Saints John Day, and as a Lodge to bury their dead; but they could not confer degrees nor
perform any other Masonic "work". For nine years these brethren, together with others who had received their degrees
elsewhere, assembled and enjoyed their limited privileges as Masons. Finally in March 2, 1784, Prince Hall petitioned
the Grand Lodge of England, through a Worshipful Master of a subordinate Lodge in London (William Moody of
Brotherly Love Lodge # 55) for a warrant or charter.

The warrant was granted on September 29, 1784 under the name of African Lodge, # 459 on the register of the Grand
Lodge of England by authority of then Grand Master, the Duke of Cumberland, delivered in Boston on April 29, 1787
by Captain James Scott, brother-in-law of John Hancock and Master of the Neptune. Prince Hall was the first Master of
the lodge which was organized one week later, May 6, 1787.

The warrant to African Lodge # 459 of Boston is the most significant and highly prized document known to the Prince
Hall Masonic Fraternity. Through it, Masonic legitimacy among free black men is traced, and on it more than any other
factor, rests their case. That charter, which is authenticated and in safekeeping, is believed to be the only original charter
issued from the Grand Lodge of England still in the possession of any Lodge in the United States. African Lodge allowed
itself to slip into arrears in the late 1790's and was stricken from the rolls after the Union of 1813 although it had
attempted correspondence in 1802 and 1806. In 1827, after further unreplied communication, it declared its
independence and began to call itself African Grand Lodge # 1. It is interesting to note that when the Massachusetts
lodges which were acting as a Provincial Grand Lodge also declared themselves an independent Grand Lodge, and even
when the present Grand Lodge of Massachusetts was formed by the amalgamation of the two separate lodges, African
Lodge was not invited to take part, even though it held a warrant every bit as valid as the others.

The question of extending Masonry arose when Absalom Jones of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania appeared in 1791 in
Boston. He was an ordained Episcopal priest and a mason who was interested in establishing a Masonic lodge in
Philadelphia. Delegations also traveled from Providence, Rhode Island and New York to establish the African Grand
Lodge that year. Prince Hall was appointed Grand Master, serving in this capacity until his death in 1807.

Upon his death, Nero Prince became Grand Master. When Nero Prince sailed to Russia in 1808, George Middleton
succeeded him. After Middleton, Petrert Lew, Samuel H. Moody and then, John T. Hilton became Grand Master. In
1827, it was Hilton who recommended a Declaration of Independence from the English Grand Lodge.

In 1869 a fire destroyed Massachusetts' Grand Lodge headquarters and a number of its priceless records. The charter
in its metal tube was in the Grand Lodge chest. The tube saved the charter from the flames, but the intense heat charred
the paper. It was at this time that Grand Master S.T. Kendall crawled into the burning building and in peril of his life,
saved the charter from complete destruction. Thus a Grand Master's devotion and heroism further consecrated this
parchment to us, and added a further detail to its already interesting history. The original Charter # 459 has long since
been made secure between heavy plate glass and is kept in a fire-proof vault in a downtown Boston bank.

In 1946, the Grand Lodge of England again extended recognition to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge but withdrew it the
same year. In 1994, the Grand Lodge of England finally accepted a petition for recognition by Prince Hall Grand Lodge
of Massachusetts. "England cited several reasons recognition was witheld," Nicholas B. Locker, Grand Master of Prince
Hall from 1992-1994, said in an interview in June 1996. "One was 'territorial boundries,' because the Grand Lodge of
England had already recognized the white Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, which shared the same jurisdiction with us.
"Another factor was that Prince Hall owed back payment of dues to the Grand Lodge. Back 200 years ago, there were
no checks, and often dues for England were put in the hands of sailing ship captains. It was several months before the
ships arrived in England, and money was lost. So it wasn't possible to say for sure that Prince Hall paid all his dues."

The ties were arranged to be formalized in June 1996. In its 212 years, the Prince Hall Grand Lodge has spawned over
44 other Grand Lodges. The subordinate lodges receive recognition once their grand lodges are recognized.

Today, the Prince Hall fraternity has over 4,500 lodges worldwide, forming 44 independent jurisdictions with a
membership of over 300,000 masons whereby any good hearted man who is worthy and well qualified, can seek more
light in masonry.

Prince Hall is buried in a cemetery overlooking the Charlestown naval yard in Boston's north end. His grave is situated
near a large tree, his wife's grave is directly behind his. The site is marked by a broken column; a monument erected 88
years after his death by Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F. & A.M. of Massachusetts. Still today, believers in
the Diety and travelers from all walks of life can be seen winding their way to that sacred spot to pay homage at the final
resting place of the first Grand Master of the "colored" Grand Lodge of Masons. This great Mason, Statesman, and
Soldier, having traveled to that undiscovered country from whos bourne no traveler returns; remains as the pillar of
wisdom, strength, and beauty among all masons today.
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Old 06-23-2002, 04:02 AM
kingtut kingtut is offline
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Lightbulb I'm just saying

I'm just saying Prof. are you saying that I'm wrong when I saw Sigma Pi Phi is NOT the first frat black men? It seems to me that you are trying to tip toe around the question. Yeah they are MASONS but you make it out sound as if they are not a frat.
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Old 06-23-2002, 03:06 PM
AKA2D '91 AKA2D '91 is offline
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Talking Re: SIGMA PI PHI: THE BOULE- The First Black Fraternity

Originally posted by Professor
SIGMA PI PHI: THE BOULE- The First Black Fraternity (on record)
What separates Sigma Pi Phi and Alpha Phi Alpha. One was the first black
fraternity for professional men and the latter the first for collegiate men.

I'm not an Eastern Star, and since I am female, I am not a Mason, either. (LOL) I do not know all of the ins and outs of the two organizations, but I wold like to get some clarity. My question is, does one not have to be professional or collegiate to become a Mason? I know males who NEVER stepped a foot on a college campus and are not professionals, yet they are Masons.

If one does not have to be a professional person or a collegiate person to join the organization, then IMO from what I have read, Sigma Pi PHi and Alpha Phi Alpha are the first in it's "class" (collegiate/professional), if you will.

I guess it's all in the wording.

Please correct me if my logic is incorrect. Thanks.
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Old 06-24-2002, 09:51 AM
Professor Professor is offline
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Re: I'm just saying

I really was just offering information. Of course the difference among the two is Alpha accepts only college educated men. As our sister stated, I guess it's all in the wording. Alpha is the first BGLO of college educated men, the Masons are the oldest black fraternal organization and the Boule is the oldest black professional organization. I know each organization does great work and I have no personal battle here. Please comment if i'm wrong.

Originally posted by kingtut
I'm just saying Prof. are you saying that I'm wrong when I saw Sigma Pi Phi is NOT the first frat black men? It seems to me that you are trying to tip toe around the question. Yeah they are MASONS but you make it out sound as if they are not a frat.
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