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Iota Phi Theta
Founded September 19, 1963 (1963-09-19) (46 years ago)
Morgan State University
Type Social
Emphasis Service
Scope International
United States
The Bahamas
South Korea
Motto Building A Tradition,
Not Resting Upon One!
Colors Charcoal Brown and Gilded Gold
Symbol Centaur
Flower Yellow Rose
Chapters 270
Nickname Iotas, Centaurs, Outlaws, Thetamen
Headquarters Founders Hall 1600 North Calvert Street
Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Iota Phi Theta Fraternity (ΙΦΘ) is a nationally incorporated, predominantly African-American fraternity. Founded on September 19, 1963 at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, it presently consists of over 35,000 members. There are currently around 300 undergraduate and alumni chapters, as well as colonies located in over 40 US states, the District of Columbia, the Bahamas and South Korea.



The fraternity was founded by twelve men 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 founders were distinguished from their peers as they were all non-traditional students. Older than their peers, many had served in the military, working full-time while attending classes, and having families. 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.

Since its founding date, Iota Phi Theta has continued to grow and has become the fifth-largest predominantly black fraternal organization in the United States. As of now, there are over 35,000 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, medicine, and the performing arts.

The fraternity holds membership in the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), an umbrella organization comprising nine (9) International Historically African-American Greek letter Sororities and Fraternities, and the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC).


  • Albert Hicks
  • Lonnie Spruill, Jr.
  • Charles Briscoe
  • Frank Coakley
  • John Slade
  • Barron Willis
  • Webster Lewis
  • Charles Brown
  • Louis Hudnell
  • Charles Gregory
  • Elias Dorsey, Jr.
  • Michael Williams

Iota Sweethearts

The Iota Sweethearts are a recognized, respected and honored tradition of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. and have a long history of affiliation with Iota. This history harkens back to the days of the fraternity's founding and the circumstances of the day.

During the founding of the nation's fifth largest predominately African-American fraternity, Iota had an ally in a woman named Ms. Audrey Brooks. Ms. Brooks was a member of the Morgan State University staff and in this capacity, she played a crucial "behind the scenes" role for the Fraternity.

The spirit and dedication of Ms. Brooks lives today through the Iota Phi Theta Sweetheart Organization and with good reason. As Iota Phi Theta went through their early years, its Brotherhood could always count on the support of their Sweetheart organization. They serve as hostesses for a national meetings and perform as a support team at step shows, amongst other things. Today, Iota Sweethearts (many of whom are wives of Iota Men) continue to support the organization. [1]

Like many things about Iota Phi Theta, the Sweetheart organization represents a departure from the norm as practiced by other groups. Most notably, Iota Phi Theta Sweethearts do not "pledge." Additionally, the Iota Sweetheart organization is not to be seen or construed as a substitute for a Sorority. In fact, thousands of Iota Sweethearts have gone on to join NPHC sororities. Iota Phi Theta is an avid supporter of these sororities and their activities. In keeping with this support and respect, they frown upon any activities undertaken by the Sweetheart Organization that might be seen as competitive to, or disrespectful of, these organizations.[2]

In a Sweetheart Workshop held during the 1999 Iota Phi Theta Conclave, Ms. Brooks stated, "The Purpose of Iota Sweethearts is to smile and be gracious on behalf of Iota. Anything else is inappropriate."

The Eternal Sweetheart

Miss Audrey S. Brooks became the Eternal Sweetheart of the Iota Phi Theta Fraternity shortly after its founding in 1963. During this time, Ms. Brooks worked on the staff at Morgan State University, in the office of the Registrar. She was a vital resource to Iota Phi Theta and many, many times she was able to assist the Brothers in the early growth and development of the Fraternity. It is interesting to note that Ms. Brooks also had a vested interest in Iota Phi Theta's success because her son, Bro. Wesley Jennings, was a member of Iota Phi Theta's first class of pledges. [3]

In recognition of her efforts, Ms. Brooks was granted the title of "Eternal Sweetheart", an honor she wore proudly for the rest of her life. Ms. Brooks was a continual supporter of Iota Phi Theta and was a frequent guest at Iota Conclaves and workshops. As recently as five months before her passing, she attended the Fraternity's 40th Anniversary Conclave in Chicago. Ms. Brooks always felt it was important to exemplify the role of Iota Sweethearts to both in word and in deed. More importantly, she served as a "Surrogate Mom" to Iota Phi Theta. She considered all Iota Men to be her sons and all Iota Sweethearts to be her daughters. Iota Phi Theta's official flower, the Yellow Rose was chosen by Ms. Brooks and Brothers wear it proudly as a tribute to her. [4]

The Feelings of the entire Iota Family can be summed up in the words to Iota's Sweetheart Song ...

Iota Sweetheart, fair as a flower,
A precious gem to see.
Oh lovely maiden, girl of the hour,
You are the one for me.
With a love so true, there is no one but you,
Our heart show what we mean.
Iota Sweetheart, know that I love you,
Iota Phi Theta Queen

National programs

Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. takes pride in its continued effort to facilitate and participate in various community service ventures and initiatives throughout various communities, especially the disenfranchised.[5]

The National Iota Foundation 
501(c)3 non-profit organization utilized to obtain funding for charitable causes and philanthropic programming.
The I.O.T.A. Youth Alliance 
Youth Mentoring Program
The Digital Heritage Initiative 
African-American History Education Initiative.
The Afya (aah-fee-yah) Njema (j-ma) Program 
Physical/Mental/Spiritual Health program.
The Developing Better Fatherhood Project 
Initiative to combat the issue of the retention of fathers in the lives of their children.
The IOTA Political Mobilization Campaign 
Political Action, Political Education, Voter Mobilization Program.
Community Reclamation Initiative 
Program to address the breakdown of the African-American community.
Cultural Education Movement 
Initiative to promote the historical value and the contributions of the African and African-American cultures to the world at large.

Notable members[6]



  • Raymond Grady: President & CEO, Evanston Hospital, Evanston Illinois
  • Zemira Jones: Vice-President of Operations, Radio One, Inc.
  • Earl King: Vice President/Investment Center Manager, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.
  • Kevin Lofton: President and CEO, Catholic Health Initiatives
  • Shelley Stewart: Vice President, Supply Chain, Tyco Corporation
  • Joseph Williams: President & CEO, Hibernia Southcoast Capital, New Orleans, LA
  • Ed Wood: Senior Vice President, Liberty Bank & Trust, New Orleans, LA
  • David A. Jackson, President & CEO, The Center for Working Families, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia

Politics and government

  • Tim Baylor: Lt. Governor Candidate (DFL, 2006), State of Minnesota
  • Ashley Bell: Past National President, College Democrats of America
  • Iota Founder Elias Dorsey, Jr.: Former Deputy Commissioner of Health, City of Baltimore, MD
  • Norman Johnson, Esq.: Judge, District Court of Maryland
  • Daniel Henson: Former Commissioner of Housing, City of Baltimore, MD
  • Rickey Jones, Esq.: Judge, Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
  • Billy Ocasio: Senior Advisor to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn; Former Alderman, Chicago, Illinois
  • Bobby Rush: United States Congressman, D-Illinois
  • Theodore N. Stephens, II, Esq.: Judge, City Municipal Court, Orange NJ
  • James L. Walls Jr.: Mayor, City of District Heights, MD
  • SGM Karl A. Roberts, US Army, Iota Phi Theta National Director of Military Affairs
  • W. Montegue Winfield, Major General, Commanding General United States Army Cadet Command; Fort Monroe, Virginia.


  • Dr. Brian K. Johnson: President, Montgomery College, Rockville, MD
  • Sterling Hudson, III: Dean of Admissions, Morehouse College
  • Dr. J. Keith Motley: Chancellor, University of Massachusetts, Boston
  • Dr. Steven Ray: Associate Professor of African American Studies; Director, Urban Theological Institute, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia
  • Dr. Michael Toney: Director, Student Programs & Assessment, University of Illinois, Chicago
  • Robert Flot: Dean of Students, Senior Student Affairs Officer, Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, Illinois
  • David A. Jackson: Adjunct Professor, Institute for Urban and Global Economic Development, Beulah Heights University, Atlanta


  • Ron Brace: NFL Defensive Tackle, New England Patriots, 09 NFL draft, [Boston College]
  • Jermaine Taylor: NBA Houston Rockets, 09 NBA draft, [University of Central Florida]
  • Chris Wilson: NFL Washington Redskins, 2007-Present, [Northwood University]
  • Elvin Hayes: NBA Hall of Fame
  • Chidi Iwuoma: former Defensive Back, Pittsburgh Steelers. Super Bowl Champion
  • Dave Leitao: Head Basketball Coach, University of Virginia
  • Melvin Lister: 2000 and 2004 Olympic Team, Long Jump / Triple Jump
  • Calvin Murphy: NBA Hall-of-Fame
  • Kirby Wilson: Assistant (Running Backs) Coach, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Tommie Frazier: Quarterback, University of Nebraska. Arguably one of the greatest college football players of all time. 2-time consensus National Champion 1994-1995 Led the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers who were voted the best College team of all-time by Individually, he is ranked #33 on the Top Greatest College Football Players of All-Time (
  • Ollie Ogbu: Defensive tackle, Penn State Nittany Lions. 2007- present

Media and entertainment

External links



  • Ross, Jr., Lawrence C. (2000). The Divine Nine: The History of African-American Fraternities and Sororities in America. New York: Kensington. ISBN 1-5756-6491-7.  


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