Sigma Pi Phi fraternity was formed in 1904 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by a group of six African American professional men. The fraternity founders included; Henry McKee Minton, Dr. Algernon B. Jackson, Dr. Edwin C. Howard, Dr. Richard J. Warrick, Robert J. Abele, and Eugene T. Hinson.
The fraternity was established so that educated African American men, who were accomplished in their professions, could have a social, spiritual and communial gathering space. Within the group, members are referred to as arcons and wives as archousai.
The group's second member Boule "Beta Boule" was formed in 1907 in Chicago followed by it's third member Boule in Baltimore in 1908. The organization gradually became nationwide and has included many prominent men including Martin Luther King, Jr. WEB Dubois, Arthur Ashe, Ron Brown, Earl Graves of Black Enterprise Magazine, and John Johnson of Ebony Magazine. Most prominent African Americans are members including college presidents, congressmen, cabinet members, and nationally prominent figures. The fraternity is currently comprised of 112 member Boules or chapters.
The fraternity is often referred to as the Boule, which in fraternity parlance means "a council of noblemen".
The meaning of the words Sigma Pi Phi, the titles given to its members and their wives, its officers and the names of its local units are derived from Greek history and tradition as well.
In History of Sigma Pi Phi: First of the Negro-American Greek-letter Fraternities by Charles H. Wesley at page 28 Wesley quotes Minton summarizing the goals of the creation of the organization:
In summary, Minton wanted to create an organization which would partake, in his own words, of "the tenets of Skull and Bones at Yale and Phi Beta Kappa,"