The origins of Zeta Delta started in 1965 when six African American students attending Northern Michigan University were experiencing problems of Zeta Chi iota which later became Phi Delta Phi. It was the established policy that non-European American who were seeking fraternal affiliations were “encouraged” to become members of the main stream (white) established fraternities. Then, President Harden refused to accept applications at Northern Michigan University for non-white fraternal organizations. Five students, Larry Burrell, Calvin holt, Arthur Jett, Gene Summers and Clarence “Joey” Washington were members of Phi Delta Phi and Alfred Weeks was a perspective pledge.
Phi delta phi in the end provided to be a very ineffective and indifferent to the needs and concerns of its African American members. The cultural and social difference between African American and White American students were worlds apart. To put it simple, there was very little that Phi Delta Phi could offer African American members, in terms of cultural experiences or common goals and objectives. The organization was racist in its policies and only allowed a few African Americans students in the organization to give the appearance of being a “liberal” fraternal organization. It was not long before the expressed concern, activities, and recommendations by African American brothers fell on deaf ears. Eventually the six students began to meet and plan for the formation of an African American fraternal organization.
In 1967, President Harden was appointed to the presidency at Michigan State University, Larry Burrell, Calvin Holt, Arthur Jett, Gene Simmons, Clarence “Joey” Washington and Alfred Weeks began to pursue the formation of a Greek Lettered fraternal organization. Joining this adventure at this time was another group of students Gary Bolden, Michael Boyd, Limar Lyle and David Williams. The consensus was to form an organization known as Alpha Kappa Que to research the founding of a black fraternity. Due to the low enrollment of African American students attending Northern Michigan University, there were only twenty-nine Black students at Northern at this time, neither organization had the required numbers to charter a fraternity on campus. As the support for the founding of a chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha increased the founders of what would become Zeta Delta made their move.
Zeta Delta owes its immediate formation to Clarence “Joey” Washington who was instrumental in influencing those students who were “Alpha inclined” to take the necessary steps. Joey had pledged at Alma College and provided the group with firsthand knowledge and experiences. In the closing months of 1966, Lawrence Burrell, William T. Driskill, Calvin T. Holt, Arthur R. Jett, George W. Long, Cornelysus R. Schaffner, Larry Warren, Clarence J. Washington and Alfred Weeks, travelled to Michigan State University for initiation and on January 7, 1967 Zeta Delta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc Northern Michigan University was founded.
Respectfully submitted by K. Chaka K. Nantambu (Melvin Owen Payne)
Alpha Phi Alpha Zeta Delta Chapter was rechartered December 12th, 1998 on the campus of Michigan State University by James Hill, Arthur Cutler II, Anthony Zander, Aaron Turner, Vinson Lewis, Brandon Burnett, and Osie Gaines III. Since its "Resurrection", Zeta Delta has continued to exude excellence within the East Lansing community.