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Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity was founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C., January 9, 1914, by three young African-American male students. The Founders, Honorable A. Langston Taylor, Honorable Leonard F. Morse, and Honorable Charles I. Brown, wanted to organize a Greek letter fraternity that would truly exemplify the ideals of brotherhood, scholarship, and service.


The Founders deeply wished to create an organization that viewed itself as “a part of” the general community rather than “apart from” the general community. They believed that each potential member should be judged by his own merits, rather than his family background or affluence…without regard to race, nationality, skin tone or texture of hair. They desired for their fraternity to exist as part of an even greater brotherhood which would be devoted to the “inclusive we” rather than the “exclusive we.”


From its inception, the Founders also conceived Phi Beta Sigma as a mechanism to deliver services to the general community. Rather than gaining skills to be utilized exclusively for themselves and their immediate families, they held a deep conviction that they should return their newly acquired skills to the communities from which they had come. This deep conviction was mirrored in the Fraternity’s motto, “Culture For Service and Service For Humanity”.


Today, Phi Beta Sigma has blossomed into an international organization of leaders. No longer a single entity, members of the Fraternity have been instrumental in the establishment of the Phi Beta Sigma National Foundation, the Phi Beta Sigma Federal Credit Union and The Sigma Beta Club Foundation. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, founded in 1920 with the assistance of Phi Beta Sigma, is the sister organization of the Fraternity.


Mission Statement


The brothers of Phi Beta Sigma are the Fraternity’s most valuable resource and strength. They are the primary means by which the Phi Beta Sigma objectives will be achieved. To accomplish the Fraternity’s objectives, it is essential that systems are instituted that effectively embody “Culture For Service and Service For Humanity” and promote brotherhood, scholarship, and service.

To optimize Phi Beta Sigma’s effectiveness, the Fraternity will:


  • Strengthen and serve proactively the brotherhood, as a supportive resource that positively impacts the Fraternity’s growth and financial solvency.

  • Reaffirm and maintain a strong commitment to brotherhood, scholarship, and service.

  • Ensure that the Fraternity programs are focused and committed to serving humanity.

  • Create an environment that respects the dignity and worth of each brother.

  • Exhibit integrity and ethical behavior in conducting the Fraternity’s business. serving as a model for all Greek-letter organizations.

  • Maintain and improve the Fraternity’s technological literacy, in order to better service its members and the community at large.

  • Foster and nurture our constitutional bond with Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

  • Encourage a closer and mutually beneficial working relationship with fellow Greek-letter organizations, other community service organizations, businesses and government.

  • Select leaders who are committed and have demonstrated their ability to lead.


Four medical doctors and a real estate broker began the history of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc, Xi Beta Sigma Chapter in 1937. These five founding brothers were Dr. S.H. Jenkins, Dr. W.M. Orr, Dr. G.A. Preston, Dr. Charles Williams and realtor, S. B. McQueen.


The charter for Xi Beta Sigma Chapter was approved and signed by the National President of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., George Lawrence on June 22, 1940.


Following the founding members, many other brothers joined Xi Beta Sigma Chapter throughout the years. Among them was Harry C. Arnold, Herman Cathings, Thomas Wimberly.  James Streeter, Lawerence Duncan, and Marcena Taylor (the first African- American firefighter and later the first African American fire captain in the city of Detroit).


Dr. Lionel Swan served as Xi Beta Sigma’s Chapter President in the early 1950’s. Dr Swan was the incumbent chapter President when Xi Beta Sigma Chapter hosted the 1953 Conclave in Detroit. Dr. Swan was also a co-founder of the Detroit Chapter NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner.


Xi Beta Sigma Chapter has had in its chapter such brothers as Sunnie Wilson, who owned and operated the Mark Twain Hotel for several years. Randolph Wallace, owned and operated the Garfield Lounge and the Randolph Hotel successfully for years. Joseph B. Thompson, owner of Thompson Funeral Homes and Clyde Cleveland who served on Detroit City Council.


Arthur Johnson came to Detroit in the late 1950’s as Field Secretary for the NAACP. Through the years, he became visible in the community as Vice-President and trustee of Wayne State University.  Dr. Charles Morton served as pastor of the Metropolitan Baptist Church, and taught at Oakland University and served on many company boards.


Harold C. Arnold served Xi Beta Sigma as President in the late fifties and attracted a number of new brothers to the Sigma fold. Some of these brothers were O.B. Krause, Charles Bankston, Leroy Rice, William Sanders, Robert L. Wolfe, Sr. Fred Banks, Elon Mickels, Elton Clifton, Sr., Floyd Cox, Jesse Hunt, Carl Turner, Rueben Vaughn, Samuel May, Tom Lee, Leon Burton, Austin Ligon, James Darby, Allen Bibb, Carl Bolden, Sr., James Grant, Lesavel Howell and Charles W. Pecke (the first African -American to teach in the Oak Park, MI School District).


Reuben N. Vaughn was elected chapter president in 1970 and he also served as editor of the Crescent Magazine, the Official National Organization of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. Eugene Lester, Sr. served as chapter President during the 1975 Conclave in Detroit.

In 1980 Xi Beta Sigma chapter purchased the Sigma Plaza. The Sigma plaza was a building that was used mainly for chapter activities and hall rentals.


Brothers serving as president of Xi Beta Sigma chapter in the 1980’s and 1990’s were Leon burton, Christopher Carswell, Robert L. Wolfe, Sr., Carl Turner, Wade K. Davis, Dr. Alsce Johnson and Ben J. Hearns.


Eddie F. Sanders was re-elected to serve as President of Xi Beta Sigma Chapter for the year 2000. He has the distinct honor as being the last chapter president of the 20th Century and the first chapter of the 21st Century.


The National Board of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. chose Xi Beta Sigma Chapter as Host Chapter for Conclave in 2001.


Written by Brother Reuben Vaughn


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