Founders



It was the bravery, dedication, hard work, ad sacrifice of 10 young men that led to the founding of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. These 10 men, all from different backgrounds and experienced, individually served as pieces of the puzzle to the creation of this grand and noble fraternity. Their stories are as follows:

Elder Watson Diggs
Elder Watson Diggs (circa 1883-1947), born in Madisonville, Kentucky, was a graduate of Indiana State Normal (now Indiana State Teachers College) and Indiana University, the birthplace of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. He served as Grand Polemarch for the first six consecutive years of the Fraternity’s existence. For this and other outstanding contributions to the Fraternity, he was awarded the Fraternity’s first Laurel Wreath in December 1924. An educator by profession, he taught in the public schools of Indianapolis, Indiana, where he was elevated to a principalship. Upon America’s entrance into World War I, Diggs resigned his principalship to enter the Nation’s first Officer’s Training Camp at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, and was commissioned a lieutenant. After European service with the 368th Infantry, he became a captain in the Reserve Officers Training Corps. Diggs was instrumental in having the Indiana Constitution amended to permit Negro enlistment in the Indiana National Guard. After his death on November 8, 1947, the name of the school where he taught was changed to the Elder Diggs School in his memory.

Ezra Dee Alexander
Ezra Dee Alexander was a native of Bloomington, Indiana born in 1892, the site of Indiana University. He was graduated from Bloomington High School in 1910. Having been born and reared in that southern Indiana town, Ezra had first hand acquaintance with the bias that led to the establishment of Kappa Alpha Nu. He matriculated at Indiana University in the fall of 1910 and was graduated from Indiana University in 1917 with the A.B. degree. He received his M.D. degree from the Medical School of Indiana University in 1919. He practiced medicine in Indianapolis. In 1920, he married Mary Hunter, a teacher in the Indianapolis Public School system. Alexander served several terms as a member of the Grand Board of Directors.

Byron K. Armstrong
The third founder and first Grand Stratergus and Grand Historian, Dr. Byron Kenneth Armstrong, was born in 1890 in Westfield, Indiana. He first attended Howard University, where he met the Dreamer, Big Brother Elder Watson Diggs. Diggs and Armstrong left Howard University at the end of the spring semester of 1910 and entered Indiana University. There, Dr. Armstrong stidued philosophy, mathematics, and sociology. Upon graduating from Indiana University, he earned his Master’s degree from Columbia University and then received his Doctor of Philosophy defree from the University of Michigan. Dr. Armstrong had an monumental career as an educator, holding teaching positions in the states of Florida, Indiana, Kansas, and Oklahoma. He also served as an investigator for the Department of Labor during World War I. Due to Dr. Armstrong’s outstanding achievements in throughout his life, he was awarded the Laurel Wreath, the highest award granted to members of the Fraternity, in 1935.

Henry T. Asher
Henry T. Asher was born in Woodburn, Kentucky in 1892, but moved to Bloomington, Indiana where he graduated from Bloomington High School in 1910. After he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University in 1914, he taught for one year at Lincoln Institute, Jefferson City, Missouri, but decided to go back to school. Asher entered the University of Illinois’s graduate school, but after a year transferred to the University of Minnesota where he received his Master of Arts degree in 1917. He was then awarded the L.L.B. degree by the Detroit College of Law in 1928. Henry T. Asher passed away March 5, 1963.

Marcus P. Blakemore
Marcus Peter Blakemore was born in the city of Franklin, Indiana in 1889. Blakemore attended public schools in Anderson, Indiana. He graduated from high school in 1909 and shortly after enrolled at Indiana University in the fall of 2010. He is described as being a rough and tenacious individual insistent on making a name for himself in life. In order to help raise enough money to pay for the $25 incorporation fee, Blakemore pawned his Corsican watch. It is said that while at the university, Blakemore roomed with fellow founder, Byron K. Armstrong. The two, along with other ambitious African-American students, often gathered to collaborate on ideas to make life for black students at the University more equitable and suitable. Blakemore left the University during the spring term of 1911. Prior to his enlistment in the army, Blakemore managed to operate an Electric Engineering Co. When the war ended, Blakemore returned back to school to earn his DDS degree from the University of Pittsburg in 1923. He opened up his own practice in Pittsburg and stayed there until his death.

Paul W. Caine
Paul Wayman Caine was born during the year 1891 in Charleston, Indiana, but he grew up and attended the public schools in Greencastle, Indiana. After completing high school he enrolled at Indiana University in 1909 and helped the other Founders in organizing Kappa Alpha Nu. Because of a disastrous fire in the Fraternity house in which he was employed, he never finished his sophomore year. After he left Indiana University, Brother Caine pursued his love for catering as he went into the catering business in his hometown; Brother Caine also set up a catering business in Gary, Indiana. Brother Caine also published a book on catering, which was copyrighted in 1919 by the Hurst Publishing Company. Brother Caine later attended Columbia University and he was instrumental in setting up the Gamma, Delta, and Zeta chapters. He later went into business in Peoria, Illinois and was fatally burned during an explosion of gaseous materials in his business in 1931.

George W. Edmonds
George Wesley Edmonds was born on August 13, 1890 in Vandenburgh County, Knight Township, Indiana. He graduated from Clark High School in Evansville and enrolled at Indiana University in the fall of 1910. Founder Edmonds did not return to school because he became the head of the family when his father died after contracting pneumonia in the summer of 1911. He worked on the railroads and in the coal mines of Vandenburgh County until his death on June 13, 1962 from pneumonia. After he left the university, the Fraternity lost contact with Founder Edmonds until Founder Irvin identified a photograph in January 1978 which ended the 67-year search for him.

Guy L. Grant
Guy Levis Grant, born in New Albany, Indiana, was the third of thirteen children, five of whom became members of Kappa Alpha Psi. He attended public schools in that city, was graduated from Scribner High School in 1909, and later entered Indiana University. While there, he majored in chemistry, graduating with the A.B. degree in 1915. In 1920, he received the D.D.S. degree from Indiana Dental School, then a part of the University of Indiana; he practiced dentistry in Indianapolis. In 1929, he married Laura Hammons. He served as a member of the Grand Board of Directors and was the Fraternity’s Historian. In addition to his activities with Kappa Alpha Psi, Brother Grant held memberships in several civic, professional, and business organizations. He was a member of the Second Baptist Church in Indianapolis.

Edward G. Irvin
Edward Giles Irvin was born in Spencer, Indiana on August 13, 1893. He graduated from Kokomo, Indiana High School in 1910 and that same year entered the University of Indiana. Founder Irvin attended the University of Indiana until 1912 when joined in World War I. Following the war he worked with Indianapolis Freeman, and in 1922 he established his own weekly newspaper called the Shining Star. Due to the success of The Shining Star he earned an editor position with Gary Sun, but passed up the opportunity to become sports editor of the Chicago Daily Bulletin. Founder Irvin was actively involved in Methodist Church of Chicago and the Masonic and Odd Fellows Lodges. Also he promoted basketball and track in many schools in Indiana. For years he also operated and organized the Afro-American Manufacturing Company in Chicago, which produced novelties, candies, and specialties. Founder Irvin was the 24th Laurel Wreath recipient. He entered the chapter invisible November 4, 1982. The Edward Giles Irvin Award of Kappa Alpha Psi is named after him and is available to Greek letter chapters for outstanding achievements.

John Milton Lee
John Milton Lee, born in Danville, Indiana, September 7, 1890, was graduated from the Danville High School in 1910 and entered the University of Indiana, where he completed three years of pre-medical work. In 1915, he became a student at Temple University but was compelled to leave school because of a death in the family. He enlisted in the 349th Field Artillery in March of 1918 and served overseas as a First Class Sergeant and Gunner. His battery was the first battery of Negro Artillerymen ever to open fire upon an enemy. John Milton Lee fired the first shot. He helped organize, and for several years was president of, the Fairview Gold Club, the first Negro Golf Club in Pennsylvania. Vocationally, he was engaged in several enterprises. For eight years, he conducted a successful catering business in Philadelphia; he organized and served as Vice President and Secretary of the Mutual Emergency Union, a mutual aid company in Philadelphia. He was also a member of the Board of Managers of the Columbia Community Branch of the YMCA. (national website)

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