In 1964, a charter was given to the LaGrange chapter (Theta Nu Lambda) of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. As part of this fiftieth anniversary, Rev. Dr. Quincy Brown contacted the Lewis Library to house an exhibit celebrating this event as well as the life of Frank R. Lewis, one of the charter members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity founded at Cornell University in 1906 by seven African-American men known as the Seven Jewels. Not only was Mr. Lewis the first African-American Director of Banks Library, he was the first African-American faculty member at LaGrange College as well. The new Lewis Library named in memory of Frank and Laura Lewis, two outstanding librarians, was opened in 2009.
The exhibit debuted on January 17th on the main floor of Lewis Library, and a reception was held for faculty, staff, students, and community members to view the completed exhibit for the first time. The assembling of the exhibit was assisted by Mr. Oliver Greene, one of two surviving charter members of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. His wealth of knowledge, as well as his willingness to share the organization’s memorabilia, was a valued contribution. His spouse, Annie Greene, herself an accomplished artist, compiled several scrapbooks beginning in 1964 documenting the history of Alpha Phi Alpha thus preserving the record of this outstanding organization which has contributed so many positive things to the LaGrange Community. Mr. Alton West, Vice-President of Alpha Phi Alpha was also of great assistance and his hospitality was most gracious.
From the fraternity’s origins to the founding of the Theta Nu Lambda chapter at LaGrange College, a number of remarkable and dedicated people have contributed their extraordinary talents and fulfilled the fraternity’s motto, “50 Years of Service Through Advocacy to the Community that We Served.” The activities of Alpha Phi Alpha have not only positively impacted the LaGrange Community but their members have continued to serve as role models. This joyous celebration is not only historic but a testament to the resilience of the African-American community.