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Our Charter Brothers

On January 5, 1924, the Alpha Rho Chapter was chartered at Morehouse College and was installed by Brothers Oscar Brown and Norman L. McGhee.  At Alpha Rho, thirteen men envisioned the destiny of fraternal life at Morehouse and were focused on four goals: scholarship, brotherhood, love for all mankind, and service to humanity.

Contributing Curators:

Brother Michael Joseph Ward Fall 2013

Brother Ahuacan DeGruy Spring 1999

Brother Frank James Kidd III Fall 1979

Charter Brother

Rozier Earl Bland

SPHINX Magazine – May 1943


Dr. Rozier Earl Bland was recently promoted from the rank of First Lieutenant to that of Captain.  He is commanding officer of his company, the first and only race physician from the south to be stationed on the eastern share, in command.

A graduate of Morehouse College and MeHarry Medical College, Captain Bland has made a most remarkable record in his profession.  He severed many connections in Memphis to serve his country as a member of the U.S. Army Medical Corps.  Captain Bland not only had a wide practice in the tri-states, but headed the city-controlled Wellington Clinic. 


He is former president of the Bluff City Medical Society, and chairman of the insurance section of the National Medical Association.  Initiated into the fraternity by Alpha Rho, Captain Bland has held membership in Chi, and more recently in Alpha Delta Lambda Chapter.

Charter Brother Henry James Charles Bowden

Father Henry James Charles Bowden served as President of the Fulton County council of Aging, as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging, Co-Chairman of the Task Force on Aging, and an Episcopal Diocesan Designee on the Ministry of Aging. For more than two decades, Father Bowden made significant contributions to the aging community through dedicated service, advocacy, and policy recommendations.


The naming of the H.J.C. Bowden Senior Multipurpose Facility in East Point, GA honored his work on behalf of senior citizens. The building opened in November 1995.


Father Bowden was born on November 15, 1902 in Brunswick, Georgia to parents Milas and Florence Baker Bowden. He married Minnie Lee Perry on July 3, 1929. He graduated from St. Augustine’s High School (1921), Morehouse College, Bachelor of Arts (1925), General Theological Seminary LTH (1928), Union Theological Seminary Columbia University, Master of Arts (1929), St. Augustine’s College LHD, Honorary Doctorate (1971), and General Theological Seminary STD, Honorary Doctorate (1974).


Father Bowden was Ordained Priest by Bishop Manning, Cathedral of St. John the Divine in 1929, and his lifetime religious appointments included: Curate at St. Philip's, New York City (1929), Vicar and Assistant to the President at St Philip’s Junior College, San Antonio, TX (1929-31), Rector at St Marks, Wilmington, North Carolina (1931-1934), Dean Colored Convocation, Diocese of East Carolina (1933-1934), Rector of St. Paul's Atlanta, Georgia (1934-1942), Secretary of Conference Church Workers among Colored People, Providence 4 (1938-1942), Instructor at Gammon Theological Seminary (1940-1941), Chaplain in the Army of the United States (1941-1957), Chaplain, Veterans Administration Hospital, Tuskegee, Alabama (1946-1964), President, AFGE Lodge No. 110 (1953-1963), Chaplain, Franklin Delano Roosevelt VA Hospital, Montrose, New York (1965-1969), Certified a Professional Mental Health Chaplain and named a Fellow of the College of Chaplains (1970), Commissioner for God and Country, Boy Scouts of America, Atlanta Area Council (1971), L.H.D. St. Augustine's College (1971), Vicar, St. Stephen’s, Griffin, GA (1971-1984), Chairman, Board of Directors Fulton County Council on Aging (1973), Staff Member, Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta, GA (1973-1975), Atlanta Regional Commission Council Task Force on Aging (1974), Chairman, Northside Shepherd Center, Atlanta, GA (1976-1977), Chairman Board of Directors, Northside Shepherd Center (1977-1978), Chairman, Atlanta Mayors Older Atlantans Task Force (OATF) (1978), Senator, Georgia Silver-Haired Legislature (2 sessions) (1978 & 1981), and Senior Intern, Congressman Wyche Fowler's Office (1980).


Father Bowden was a life member of both Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (and National Convention Chaplain), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He received the Georgia Governor’s Leadership Award in 1990, was cited at the 77th annual Council on the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta in 1984 for his 55 years as a priest - 50 years in the Diocese, and on various occasions Father Bowden served as college preacher at Albany State College and Fort Valley State College, Georgia; Tuskegee Institute, Alabama; and St. Augustine's College, North Carolina.


Father Bowden passed on March 11, 1995 and is interned at historic Southview Cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia.

Charter Brother

Quentin Theodore Boyd

Quentin Theodore Boyd


Brother Boyd, a native of Selma, Alabama, graduated from Morehouse College in 1925 with a degree in Business.  Boyd was Editor-in-Chief of the Commercial News, and a member of the Morehouse Commercial Club.

Charter Brother

Joseph Lucien Carwin

Dr. Joseph Lucien Carwin

Obituary – July 4, 1964

The New York Times

STAMFORD, Conn., June 30 — Dr. Joseph L. Carwin, a phy­sician and civic leader in the state, died today in his home, 45 Richmond Drive, Old Green­wich. He was 59 years old.

Dr. Carwin was the first African American elected as head of the Fair­field County Medical Associa­tion since the group's incep­tion in 1792. He was a staff member of Stamford and St. Joseph Hospitals and a mem­ber of the courtesy staff at Greenich Hospital.

Dr. Carwin was past presi­dent of the Stamford Chapter of the American Academy of General Practice and of the Stamford Medical Society; and served as delegate to the house of delegates of the Connecti­cut State Medical Society.  

Dr. Carwin and his wife, Dr. Joyce Yerwood Carwin, visit­ed the Soviet Union in 1960 as members of the delegation from the National Medical Associa­tion.

Dr. Carwin received his B.A. degree at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga., and was graduat­ed from the McHarry Medical College, Nashville, Tenn. He in­terned at Freedmen's Hospital in Washington and had prac­ticed in Stamford since 1935.

Surviving are his widow, a son, Joseph L. Jr., and a sister, Mrs. Minnie Carwin Blackman of New York.

Dr. Carwin was vice president of the Morehouse College class of 1926, President of the DeLuxe Social Club, and later president of the Chi Chapter at MeHarry Medical College.  He was the first African-American elected as head of the Fairfield County Medical Association since its inception in 1792.  Carwin Park in Stamford, Connecticut was named in his honor.

Charter Brother

Charles Johnson Dunn

Charter Brother

James Buchanan Harris

Charles Johnson Dunn


A native of Monroe, Georgia, Brother Dunn is a member of the class of 1925 at Morehouse College where he played on the varsity basketball team.  Alabama State’s arena is named the Dunn-Oliver Acadome after two legendary Hornet basketball coaches, Charles Johnson “C.J.” Dunn and James V. Oliver. The Dunn-Oliver Academe is ASU’s multipurpose facility featuring a 7,400-seat basketball arena, banquet facilities, and laboratory space.  Brother Dunn is also the namesake of ASU's C.J. Dunn Towers, an 11-story, all-girls dormitory and the tallest building on campus.

Coach Dunn served as head basketball coach between 1934 and 1963, winning 298 games, the most wins of any Hornet coach. Coach Dunn spent 46 years as ASU serving in a number of capacities, including baseball coach, instructor, dean of students and athletic director.  Coach Dunn also served as Commissioner of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) from 1970-72.  He was inducted into the SIAC Hall of Fame in 1994.

Dr. James Buchanan Harris

Dr. Harris, a member of the class of 1925 from Cleveland, Ohio, was an Atlanta physician who also served on the Board of Overseers of the School of Medicine at Morehouse College, (later established as the independent Morehouse School of Medicine). 

His wife, Lottie Louise Bailey Harris, is noted for being one of the 26 female graduates of Morehouse College who enrolled at the college between 1929 and 1936.  She was a public school teacher who received her degree in 1931.  Prior to his retirement, Dr. Harris was the primary medical physician who certified the applications for all pledgees of Alpha Rho Chapter (1960s thru 1980s).

Six Elevated To Board of Overseers

Morehouse School of Medicine Newsletter, October 1977


Six new Members have been elected to the Board of Overseers of the School of Medicine at Morehouse College, including U. S. Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia.  Other new board members are Dr. Clyde W. Phillips, a Chicago Physician; two Atlanta physicians, Dr. James B. Harris and Dr. Nelson H. McGhee, Jr.; Dr. Howard Jordan, Vice Chancellor of the University System of Georgia and Dr. Joseph N. Gayles, president of Talledega College. 


Dr. Gayles is a former professor of chemistry at Morehouse College and also served as project director of the medical school.  With the new additions, the Board of Overseers now has 33 members.  Four more persons will be added to the board later this year.

Charter Brother Claudius Roswell Jones

Claudius Roswell Jones

Brother Jones, from Macon, Georgia, was a member of the class of 1925 at Morehouse College, graduating with a degree in Journalism.  

Charter Brother

John Wesley Lawlah, Jr.

Dr. John Wesley Lawlah


Dr. Lawlah, Morehouse College class of 1925, was the first African-American to be accepted by the University of Wisconsin Medical School.  In 1926, the year preceptorships began, University of Wisconsin administrators attempted to modulate the school’s racial makeup by admitting Lawlah.  Although he did not receive admission to the four-year program, his ensuing career proved distinguished in every aspect.  At the end of two years he had to leave Wisconsin and complete his medical training at Rush University Medical College in Chicago, Illinois.  He completed his internship at Provident Hospital in Chicago as well.  No other African-American students were enrolled at the Wisconsin Medical School until 1962.


Lawlah went on to a distinguished career, serving as professor of clinical radiology at Howard University in Washington, DC, one of two African-American medical schools in the nation at that time.  He later became Dean of the Howard University Medical School from 1941-1946.  Lawlah’s name later graced a distinguished alumni award at the University of Wisconsin.

Charter Brother Montague Lay

Dr. Montague Lay

Obituary – Tuesday, August 9, 1955

Rome News-Tribune (Rome, Georgia)


Funeral services for Dr. Montague Lay, former Roman, who died last Friday afternoon at his home in Martin, Tennessee, will be conducted tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 at the Thankful Baptist Church.  The pastor, Rev. O. M. Collins will officiate, assisted by others.  Burial will follow in the family plot of Myrtle Hill Cemetery.  Dr. Lay was born in Rome and received his preliminary education education here, and from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.  He was a graduate of MeHarry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, and served his internship in the Phillips Memorial Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri.  He practiced in Martin for the past 18 years.


He is survived by his widow, Mrs. Inez Lay, od Martin; two sisters, Sara Ann Lay of Detroit, Michigan, and Lily Lay of Rome; two brothers, Felton W. Lay of Detroit, Michigan, and George Lay of Rome; one aunt, Mrs. Hattie Morris of Nashville, Tennessee; several nieces, nephews and other relatives also survive.  The body will be carried to the home of a brother, George Lay, 333 Ross Street, at 6 p.m. today to lie in state until tomorrow at 2pm at which time it will be removed to the church to lie in state until the funeral hour.  All members of the family and friends who desire to view the remains are asked to do so either at the home or the church as the casket will not be opened after the services.


-- Bozier’s Funeral Home

Charter Brother

Hubert Lisbon Reeves

Hubert Lisbon Reeves


Interned:  Laurel Grove Cemetery South, Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia, USA



Hubert Reeves was born in Little Rock, Arkansas. He was the oldest grandchild of Camilla and Zack Hubert and the only child of Alfred Randolph Reeves and Jency Hubert Reeves. He graduated from Morehouse College and received his Master's Degree for American University. He also studied at Northwestern University and New York University.

He worked for years in Washington, DC as an economist with the Urban Manpower Commission and the U.S. Department of Labor. He returned to Savannah after his retirement and taught economics for four years at Savannah State College.

He was a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, a member of the Camilla and Zack Hubert Foundation, and the Pigskin Club of Washington, DC. He was a member and trustee of First Congregational Church in Savannah.

Funeral services were held on Friday, May 8, 1992 at First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Savannah, GA. He was buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery, Savannah, GA.

Charter Brother

Cassander Woodliff Sellers

Cassander Woodliff Sellers


Brother Sellers was born in Macon, Georgia on February 26, 1903.  Cassander died in July 1958 in Albany, Georgia at 55 years of age.

Brother Sellers was a member of the Morehouse College Class of 1925, graduating with a degree in Journalism, and served as advertising manager of the Morehouse Commercial Club.  Brother Sellers was also a charter member of the Epsilon Beta Lambda Chapter in Macon, Georgia -- founded in 1949.

Brother Sellers was the son of the late Mr. Cassander Nunes Sellers and Mrs. Mildred Sellers King.  Brother Seller's father was the first Black Lawyer in Macon.  He attended the public schools of Bibb County.  After high school he matriculated to Talladega College in Alabama but was kicked out because he tried to start an Alpha Phi Alpha Chapter.  Brother Sellers transferred to Morehouse College where he became a charter member of Alpha Rho Chapter.  As a result of his vision, determination and leadership, Brother Sellers was elected as the first president of Alpha Rho Chapter.


He was employed as a cashier at the Middle Georgia Savings and Investment Company.  At the time of his death, Brother Sellers was District Manager of the Pilgrim Insurance Company in Albany, Georgia.


Prior to that he had retired from the US Postal Service.  He attended the First Congregational Church and was a member of the Homosophian Club.  Brother Sellers died unexpectedly on July 21, 1958 in Albany, Georgia.

Charter Brother

Melvin Elijah Sykes

Melvin Elijah Sykes



It has been said that the life experience can be compared to a piece of fabric - each thread being a significant path the individual travels and the ultimate completion forming a finished work of art. The life fabric of Melvin E. Sykes had many paths, threading in many directions, with each direction contributing to the humorous witty and charming man that he was.

Brother Sykes was born in Decatur, Alabama on January 10, 1901, the son of Solomon and Ada Garth Sykes who were slaves (his grandfather owned his father).  Altogether, there were 12 children born to their union.  He attended the elementary and secondary schools in the city and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia in 1926.

He was married to the late Amy Dixon and they lived for many years in New York, where he worked in the area of real estate. They later returned to Decatur.  Brother Sykes played baseball in the Negro Leagues, starring with the Philadelphia Hilldale Giants and the New York Lincoln Giants.

Mr. Sykes was very active in community, political and social organizations in Decatur. He was particularly interested in promoting better educational opportunities for young people. He was an active board member and past president of the Eva Sterrs Boys' Club, the Corporate Board of Boys' Clubs of Decatur, the Foster Grandparents of Alabama, the Alabama Democratic Conference and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.


During his undergraduate career at Morehouse College Brother Sykes was president of Alpha Rho Chapter his senior year and at 6'5', he served as captain of the basketball team during the 1922-23 season and was an All-American swingman the following year.  He was also the captain of the baseball team during the 1922 season.

Mr. Sykes died in March of 1984 and was survived by one brother, Dr. Frank "Doc"J. Sykes of Baltimore, Maryland, also known as "The Pitching Dentist."  

Charter Brother

Nelson Sylvester


Nelson Sylvester Williams (also known professionally as Nish Williams)


Brother Williams, known campus-wide by the name "Nish Williams," was a member of the Morehouse Baseball Team in the position of catcher, and the "M" Club.  Williams graduated from Morehouse College in 1926.

He was born in Atlanta, Georgia on February 29, 1904 and died on September 2, 1968 in his hometown.  Negro Baseball League records indicate that his birth name was Vinicius J. Williams, and he went by the nickname Zeke during his 13 active years with the league.  After retirement, he became a successful Atlanta resturanteur in Black Atlanta.

During Donn Clendenon's college years at Morehouse College, 1969 World Series MVP and one of the most pivotal players in Mets history was mentored by the greatest and most pivotal African American of the 20th century -- Nish Williams.  His big brother at Morehouse was none other than Martin Luther King, Jr.

While his impact on baseball long-term was in his raising of stepson Donn Clendenon, Nish Williams had a fine career in the Negro Leagues and managed briefly as well.  Primarily a catcher who was not noted for his arm, he played every position except shortstop, center field and pitcher.  He was known as a pull hitter.  After Donn Clendenon's biological father died when he was six months old, Williams became his stepfather and instilled a love for baseball in him.  While Clendenon had preferred football and basketball and could have made more money possibly in either sport, he chose baseball out of consideration for his stepfather's interest.  Williams lived long enough to see his stepson hit 28 homers for the 1966 Pirates.

In 1944, Helen and "Nish" Williams opened Williams Tavern on Hunter Street.  The restaurant's "Blue Dining Room" featured the house specialty, southern fried chicken. 

Williams worked for many years as an unpaid assistant coach at Morehouse.  No less than Satchel Paige once credited Williams with being the only man who got around on the famed “hummer”— Paige’s legendary fastball.  It was Williams, too, who fine-tuned young Roy Campanella’s catching skills.


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