Nu Chapter History
Nu Chapter at Lincoln University, Lincoln, Pennsylvania, began its existence in the year 1912. Lincoln University had been the traditional rival of Howard University in athletic contests. The student body of Lincoln looked upon the student body of Howard as its friendly rival. For some years, the success of Beta Chapter at Howard had been watched with interest by the students at Lincoln. Brother C. M. Cain, who had been associated with many Howard students, gathered a group of students and began the plans for the establishment of a chapter at Lincoln.
The trustees were at first opposed in principle to student secret organizations so that these meetings were held in secret. Finally, on November 6, 1912, a group of thirteen students decided to organize Nu Chapter, and, on November 22, 1912, the chapter was set aside by Brother Charles Garvin. Brother Garvin reported after his visit, they were “a bunch full of enthusiasm and determined to become familiar with our traditions.” The chapter had the following charter members: Clarence Layton Aiken, Henry Ellwood Bouden, Claiborn Morris Cain, Henry Casheen Collins, Authur Lewis "Tex" Frazier, Clinton Virgil Freeman, Frank Goss, John Benjamin Issacs, Francis T. Jamison, William B. Jamison, Walter FitzPatrick Jerrick, Franklin Augustus Myers, Wesley Cornelius Redd, and William Joseph Townsend.
The trustees continued to doubt the value of student fraternities. An old college rule stated that "no secret organization should exist on the campus" and for a short period the chapter was reported to be only a "club." As a result of the work of the chapter and of the scholarship and character of its members, trustee recognition was finally granted under the administration of Brother Joseph N. Hill as chapter president.
Brother Thurgood Marshall
Thurgood Marshall was born and raised in Baltimore. He graduated from Lincoln University in 1930 where he pledged Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and studied law at Howard University. Shortly after graduation from law school, Marshall became associated with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and later became the head of the organization's Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Marshall was a key strategist in the legal effort to dismantle racial segregation in housing, voting, and education. He was chief counsel in the historic cases known as Brown v. Board of Education.
President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Four years later, President Lyndon Johnson appointed him as solicitor general. Johnson turned to Marshall in 1967 to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court.
Marshall was the first black to serve on the Court. He was an unrepentant liberal whose commitment to equality only expanded during his years of service. He remained true to the values of freedom and equality despite the erosion of the liberal majority that he helped sustain when he was first appointed. In one of his last opinions (Dissenting from a conservative majority), Marshall declared that "[p]ower, not reason, is the new currency of this Court's decision making." He retired in 1991 when his health deteriorated. Marshall died of heart failure in January 1993.
Alpha Phi Alpha Pledges at Lincoln University. Thurgood Marshall (middle row, second from the right)
would go on to become the first Black justice to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Brother Paul Robeson
After graduation from Rutgers, Robeson entered Columbia Law School. He helped pay his way through law school by working as an athlete and a performer. He played professional football in the American Professional Football Association (later called the National Football League). He served as assistant football coach at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where he was initiated into the Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha.
Robeson an actor of film and stage, All-American and professional athlete, writer, multi-lingual orator, lawyer, and basso profondo concert singer who was also noted for his wide-ranging social justice activism. A forerunner of the civil rights movement, Robeson was a trades union activist, peace activist, Phi Beta Kappa Society laureate, and a recipient of the Spingarn Medal and Stalin Peace Prize. Robeson
achieved worldwide fame and recognition during his life for his artistic accomplishments, and his outspoken, radical beliefs which largely clashed with the colonial powers of Western Europe and the Jim Crow climate of pre-civil rights America.
Paul Robeson was the first major concert star to popularize the performance of Negro spirituals and was the first black actor of the 20th century to portray William Shakespeare's Othello. His 1943-44 Broadway run of Othello still holds the record for the longest running Shakespeare play. In line with Robeson's vocal dissatisfaction with movie stereotypes, his roles in both the American and British film industry were some of the first parts ever created that displayed dignity and respect for the African American film actor, paving the way for Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte.
At the height of his fame, Paul Robeson decided to become a primarily political artist, speaking out against fascism and racism in the US and abroad as white America failed post-World War II to stand up for the rights of people of color. Robeson thus became a prime target of the Red Scare during the late 1940s through to the late 1950s. His passport was revoked from 1950 to 1958 under the McCarran Act and he was under surveillance by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency and by British MI5 for well over three decades until his death in 1976. The reasoning behind his persecution centered not only on his beliefs in socialism and friendship with the peoples of the Soviet Union but also his tireless work towards the liberation of the colonial peoples of Africa, the Caribbean and Asia, his support of the International Brigades, his ardent efforts to push for anti-lynching legislation and the integration of major league baseball among many other causes that challenged worldwide white supremacy. Condemnation of Robeson and his beliefs came swiftly, from both the white establishment of the US, including the United States Congress, and many mainstream black organizations including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). This mass vilification by the American establishment blacklisted and isolated Robeson for the latter part of his career. Despite the fact that Paul Robeson was one of the most internationally famous cultural figures of his era, the persecution virtually erased him from mainstream culture and subsequent interpretations of 20th century history, including civil rights and black history.
To this day, Paul Robeson's FBI file is one of the largest of any entertainer ever investigated by the United States Intelligence Community, requiring its own internal index and unique status of health file.
Despite persecution and limited activity resulting from ailing health in his later years, Paul Robeson remained, throughout his life, committed to world peace and anti-fascism and was unapologetic about his political views. Present day advocates and historians of Paul Robeson's legacy have worked successfully to restore his name to history books and sports records, while honoring his memory globally with celebrations, festivals and posthumous awards and recognitions.