Founder Elder Watson Diggs was a quiet, polished, scholarly, and prolific writer. Initially referred to as ‘the Father of Kappa,’ he became affectionately known as ‘the Dreamer’ due to his profound vision to create the fraternity. He was born in Christian County, Kentucky, on December 23, 1883, and was the eldest son of three children.
He received a one-room school education in Louisville, Kentucky, where he helped teach the younger children. Following graduation from Indiana State Normal School in the spring of 1908, Diggs enrolled at Howard University in 1909. While a student there, he developed a friendship with Byron K. Armstrong.
Founder Byron Kenneth Armstrong was a scholar, imaginative and outspoken. He was affectionately known as “Boomski,” born in Westfield, Hamilton County, Indiana, on April 8, 1892, was one of five children and was the cousin of 2nd Grand Polemarch, Irven Armstrong.
Armstrong enrolled at Howard University in 1909, met Elder W. Diggs, and together, they transferred to Indiana University in the fall of 1910, where he studied philosophy, mathematics, and sociology. He graduated from Indiana University with an A.B. degree in the fall of 1913. Armstrong subsequently earned an M.A. degree from Columbia University in 1914 and was decreed a Doctor of Philosophy by the University of Michigan in 1940. He held teaching positions as a professor at universities in Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, and Michigan and served as Dean in Maryland and Oklahoma.
Founder Guy Levis Grant was small in stature but was a giant in charitable endeavors and a preserver of history. He was born in New Albany, Indiana, on April 9, 1891, and was the third of thirteen children, five of whom became members of the fraternity. When his father died, he became head of the household and assumed responsibility for educating himself and his siblings.
Grant attended public schools in his hometown, graduated from Scribner High School in 1909, and entered Indiana University. While there, he majored in chemistry, graduating with an A.B. degree in 1915. In 1920, he received a D.D.S. degree from Indiana Dental School, then a part of Indiana University. He practiced dentistry in Indianapolis for over 50 years.
Founder Marcus Peter Blakemore was a man of deep religious convictions and quiet confidence. He contributed significantly to education, his community, church, hospitals, and fraternity. Blakemore, affectionately known as “Blakie,” was born in Franklin, Indiana, on January 3, 1889, and was the eldest of four children.
Blakemore’s family moved to Anderson, Indiana, where he attended public schools and graduated high school in 1909. He entered Indiana University the following year. After leaving Indiana University in the spring term of 1912, he organized the Electric Engineering Company, which he operated until he enlisted with the U.S. Army in World War I. Blakemore served in the U.S. Army as the rank of Private with the 30th Company, 154th Depot Brigade. He was honorably discharged in August 1918 and married Azalea Hall the following month. They had one daughter, Elizabeth.
Founder Ezra Dee Alexander was an outgoing and dedicated worker. He was fondly known as “Dee,” was born in Bloomington, Indiana, on July 18, 1891, and was the second eldest of seven children.
Alexander graduated from Bloomington High School in 1910. He matriculated to Indiana University in the fall of 1910 and graduated from Indiana University in 1917 with an A.B. degree. Prior to graduation, he held positions as a teacher and principal at Indiana public schools. He received his M.D. from the Medical School of Indiana University in 1919. Alexander served an internship at Provident Hospital in Chicago in 1920. Alexander served in the Army Medical Corps during WWI and as a medical examiner during WWII. He practiced medicine in Indianapolis for nearly 50 years.
Founder John Milton Lee was a scholar, loyal, and tireless worker for the growth of the fraternity. Due to his idealist character was commonly referred to as ‘a dreamer’ during the fraternity’s early years. He was born in Danville, Indiana, on September 7, 1890, and was the third of four children.
He attended Danville public schools and enrolled at Indiana University in 1910. He completed three years of pre-medical work before leaving the university. In 1914, he enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania but withdrew for health reasons. In 1915, he became a student at Temple University but was compelled to leave due to a death in the family.
Founder Henry Tourner Asher was an unassuming, dependable supporter of Negro youth, equal rights, higher education, and religious affairs and the son of a Baptist Minister. He was born in Owensboro, Kentucky, on June 30, 1890, and was the eldest of seven children.
After his family moved to Bloomington, Indiana, he attended and graduated from Bloomington High School in 1910. He enrolled at Indiana University in 1910, where he received the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1914. He became an instructor at Lincoln Institute in Jefferson City, Missouri, from 1914-1915. In 1915, he enrolled in a graduate program at the University of Wisconsin and subsequently at the University of Illinois. However, he transferred to the University of Minnesota, where he earned his Master of Arts in 1917. He received the degree of LL.B. at the Detroit College of Law in 1928.
Founder Edward Giles Irvin was a civic and religious leader, journalist, and entrepreneur. He was born August 13, 1893, in Spencer, Indiana, and was the seventh of nine children of an African Methodist Episcopal minister.
Following graduation from Kokomo Indiana High School in 1910, he enrolled at Indiana University the same year. At only 17 years of age, Irvin was the youngest of ten Black students who founded Kappa Alpha Psi® Fraternity. Irvin served on the fraternity’s Incorporation Committee. Irvin left the school following the spring term of 1911.
Founder George Wesley Edmonds was witty and an enigma to most in the fraternity. He was born in Knight Township, Vanderburgh County, Indiana, on August 13, 1890, and was the eldest of two sons.
He attended Clark High School in nearby Evansville, Indiana, and enrolled at Indiana University in the fall of 1910. He joined nine other students in founding Kappa Alpha Nu Fraternity. Edmonds was listed as the Corresponding Secretary in the articles of incorporation of the Grand Chapter of Kappa Alpha Nu. He was one of the three freshmen, along with Asher and Blakemore, who were the first initiates of the Alpha of Kappa Alpha Nu.
Founder Paul Waymond Caine was the consummate entrepreneur and chef before his time, always friendly and displaying a pleasant disposition. He was born in Greencastle, Indiana on May 17, 1890. He was long thought to be an only child but is now known to have a half-brother.
Caine attended Greencastle public schools and enrolled at Indiana University sometime between 1909 and 1910 as a business major. He was adept at cooking and honed those skills while working at DePauw University, where he worked as a cook in the sorority houses before enrolling at Indiana University. He was a fine caterer and was in demand by the White fraternities on campus and kept many of the Founding fraternity brothers from hunger.