Historical Background of Charter Week
Jewel Brother Eugene Kinckle Jones
Eugene Kinckle Jones may be a little-known name to most people in Louisville, KY. He only lived and serve here for a brief time in 1910 and 1911. His time teaching at the historic Black Central High School and Simmons University (now Simmons College of Kentucky) was the cause for his coming to Louisville. The Effect continues to reverberate through Louisville and the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Before coming to Louisville, Eugene Kinckle Jones participated as one of seven founders of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. while a student at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY in 1906. He along with the six other men referred to as The Jewels are the progenitors of the Black Greek Inter-Collegiate Fraternal and Sororal Movement. Their bold and transformative work gave rise to an entire community of leaders and established an incubator for Black Brilliance that spans the Globe.
Mr. Jones along with the other Jewel Founders of Alpha Phi Alpha had distinguished careers and left footprints of their impact that continue to drive the discourse of Black progress to this day. While living and working in Louisville, Eugene Kinckle Jones took another bold step after meeting 11 African American Men living in Louisville, who were college graduates. He established the first alumni chapter in Alpha Phi Alpha thereby sparking a movement within a movement, the rise of postgraduate chapters in Black Greek Life. Those charter members were, J.O. Blanton, A. S. Brock, W.T. Peyton, J. H. Hubert, W. Welch, F. Johnson, C.A. Powell, J.T. Clark, W. Ballard, and D. L. Lawson.
On April 11, 1911, The Alpha Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., was chartered in Louisville, KY. His actions in Louisville gave other men of note the opportunity to join the fraternal ranks and serve beyond college.
Subsequent to his time in Louisville, Eugene K. Jones answered the call to serve a newly founded organization the National Urban League. Mr. Jones ultimately became the first Executive Secretary of the National Urban League and serve in that post for 11 years. While serving the rising nation of African Americans in this new role alongside so many other brilliant men and women, he led the charge to recruit more blacks to the profession of Social Work and is credited with professionalizing the discipline.
Because of his work and the work of the Jewels Louisville boasts four schools named for Alpha Men (W.E.B. DuBois Academy, Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary, Whitney M. Young Elementary, and Lyman T. Johnson Middle School, and one street, Dr. W.J. Hodge Blvd. The list of men who belong to the ranks of Alpha Phi Alpha who have and continue to serve Louisville is too long to recount them all, but a few notable are:
The Late Dr. W.J. Hodge, The Late Frank Stanley Sr., The Late Dr. Joseph McMillan, The Late George Unseld, Judge Derwin Webb, World Renowned Sculptor Ed Hamilton, Entrepreneur Junior Bridgeman, Dr. John Marshall, Dr. Walter Malone, Sr., Transplant Surgeon, Dr. Christopher Jones, and the list goes on.
The Legacy of Brother Jewel Eugene Kinckle Jones is impressive and continues to influence the lives of Louisvillians, Kentuckians, and Americans of all ethnicity, hue, and creed. For this reason Alpha Lambda Chapter honors our Charter Founder, with a State Proclamation naming April 11, 2023, and every subsequent year officially, Eugene Kinckle Jones Day in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.