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Founding Date: September 19,1963

Founding Place: Morgan State University – Baltimore, Maryland

Purpose: “The Development and Perpetuation of Scholarship, Leadership, Citizenship, Fidelity, and Brotherhood among Men.”

Motto: “Building A Tradition, Not Resting Upon One”

Official Colors: Charcoal Brown (PMS 469) & Gilded Gold (PMS 871 Metallic)


Official Flower: Yellow Rose (Chosen by Eternal Sweetheart, Ms. Audrey Brooks.)



The Shield of Iota Phi Theta (significantly, not a “crest” or “Coat of arms”) is the most commonly used symbol of the Fraternity. Its connotation, or meaning, is revealed by the initiation ritual. The Shield may be used only by official members of the fraternity on stationery, jewelry, and other personal effects. It is used by the fraternity upon its official stationery, membership certificates, and other documents. Designed by Founder Charles Briscoe, the Shield of Iota Phi Theta was modified slightly several times during the early years of the Fraternity.


Besides the Fraternity Shield, the next most readily identifying symbol of Iota Phi Theta is The Centaur. A Mythical beast with the head and torso of a man, and the body of a stallion, The Centaur is near and dear to all Men of Iota Phi Theta and its mythology, characteristics, and legacy are a binding force within the Brotherhood. Additionally, Iota Phi Theta intakees are referred to as Centaurs. (Note: The Centaur can appear in Green, Brown, or Gold but must ALWAYS have Red eyes.)


ΙΦΘ History

Historical Overview


1963 was a turbulent year. History-making events occurred that would radically and permanently affect the country as a whole, and African-Americans in particular. On April 12, America watched with horror and outrage as Birmingham Police Chief Eugene “Bull” Connor and his officers used water hoses and police dogs against peaceful civil rights demonstrators. On June 12th, Medger Evers, NAACP field secretary and civil rights leader, was assassinated at his home in Jackson, Mississippi by a segregationist. On August 28th, 250,000 people participated in the historic “March on Washington” and heard Martin Luther King, Jr. deliver his historic “I Have a Dream” speech. Three weeks later and less than 50 miles away, in Baltimore, Maryland, another group of men would make a different kind of history.

On September 19, 1963, at Morgan State College (now Morgan State University), 12 students founded what is now the nation’s fifth largest, predominately African-American social service fraternity: The Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Incorporated.

The founders of Iota Phi Theta were: Albert Hicks, Lonnie Spruill, Jr., Charles Briscoe, Frank Coakley, John Slade, Barron Willis, Webster Lewis, Charles Brown, Louis Hudnell, Charles Gregory, Elias Dorsey, Jr., and Michael Williams.

This group of men was unique for several reasons. First of all, many were long-time friends. Spruill, Coakley, Dorsey, and Gregory had known one another since grade school, and Spruill and Coakley’s friendship extended to when the two were pre-schoolers.


As Iota Phi Theta continues to grow and strengthen, so will its commitment to make meaningful contributions to society in general, with particular emphasis in the African-American community. Throughout America, Iota Phi Theta has come to represent excellence in all areas. The Fraternity is, and shall forever remain dedicated to its founders’ vision of “Building a Tradition, Not Resting Upon One!”

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