The “Mother” of the Fraternity Mrs. Annie Singleton
“Alpha Phi Alpha today represents
By Herman “Skip” Mason, Jr.
magnificent dream that moved the
the triumphant fruition of the Seven Jewels to assemble in my
THE HOME OF Mr. Archie Singleton and his wife, the affable Annie C. Singleton, was located at the foot of the hill of the Cornell University campus in Ithaca, N.Y. It was in their home at 411 East State Street, in an upper bedroom, which they rented out to a young student from Washington, D.C., named Robert Harold Ogle. She was born Annie Nixon in 1874, in Alabama. Her father was from one of the parishes in Louisiana and her mother was a South Carolinian. By the turn of the century, Archie and Annie, who married in 1904, relocated to the township of Ithaca from South Carolina. Their home on East State Street was in a racially mixed neighborhood, where they were one of two African-American families residing on the street. Mrs. Singleton worked as a domestic nurse in the home of one of the white families in Ithaca. She and Archie had a daughter named Annie and a nephew, Albert Nixon, who also lived with them. Archie Singleton had two sons by his first wife. In 1939, at the Alpha Phi Alpha General Convention in New York, during the New York World’s Fair, the fraternity invited Mrs. Annie Singleton as its special guest. General President Charles H. Wesley, who realized that many of the brothers had not seen this grand lady, introduced her to the brotherhood. It was at this convention that the title “mother” was endeared to the brotherhood and she was officially designated the “Mother of Alpha Phi Alpha.” “Mother” Singleton later moved from Ithaca to Toledo, Ohio, during the 1940s and then returned to Buffalo, N.Y., where she lived with relatives until her death on July 25, 1960. At the 50th Anniversary Convention in Buffalo, she was honored again by the brotherhood. Four years later, at the 54th Anniversary Convention in Washington, D.C., General President Myles Paige, on behalf of the fraternity, deposited a yellow rose in memory of Mrs. Annie C. Singleton— the beloved “Mother” of the fraternity and his aunt. This story originally appeared in the spring 1999 issue of the The Sphinx.
humble home many, many years ago, and I [am] extremely happy that I was able, in a very small way, to stimulate the realization of this dream through the trials and The Ithaca, N.Y., home of Annie C. Singleton on East State Street.
tribulations of the early years.” –Annie Singleton, 1931
Singleton (left) with 19th General President Myles A. Paige and Jewel Nathaniel Allison Murray, at right, in 1956.
Singleton (center) with 16th General President Belford V. Lawson (left), and future U.S. Senator, Brother Edward Brooke.
“Mother” Annie C. Singleton in her early-adult years, then known as Anna Coleman.
Archie and Annie Singleton with daughter Mary. Fall 2011 H THE SPHINX