The History of Beta Epsilon Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc.

Under the direction of Founder Marcus P Blackmore (click link) and the Pittsburgh Alumni Chapter, four young men were initiated into Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity on March 27, 1937 in Pittsburgh, PA.  Three students Benjamin F. Duncan, Lorenzo A. Hill, and Russell T. Washington were enrolled at Duquesne University.  The fourth initiate was Ralph O. Barnett, who was enrolled at Carnegie Tech.  In order for the group to secure an official chapter charter, they needed a fifth member which they found in Walter L. Roberts, an architect student at Carnegie Tech, who was already members of the Fraternity via Chi Chapter (Boston University).

Together the five young men chartered the Beta Epsilon Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.  The official chartering date was September 19, 1937.

These men perpetuated the history and traditions of Kappa Alpha Psi in the colleges and universities in Pittsburgh, throughout Western Pennsylvania and in the state of West Virginia.  The Fraternity’s goal has been to install a sense of achievement and pride while promoting the social, spiritual, intellectual and moral welfare of its members.  The current schools in which the chapter has members are: The University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and Duquesne University.  The members of the Beta Epsilon Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi have been positive, productive members of their respective institutions while maintaining strong ties within the greater community of Pittsburgh.  Since the chartering of the chapter in 1937, over 80 pledge classes, and over 400 men have been initiated into the Beta Epsilon Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi.  The chapter has also been instrumental in the establishment of several undergraduate chapters in the East Central Province including – The Epsilon Chi Chapter at West Virginia University (1970), The Zeta Eta Chapter at California State University (PA) (1971), The Lambda Upsilon Chapter at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (1983), The Mu Phi Chapter at Clarion State University (PA) (1986), and The Nu Zeta Chapter at Edinburg State University (1987).  Before each of these chapters were chartered their members were initiated into the Beta Epsilon Chapter.

Meet the Charter Members of Beta Epsilon

Walter L. Roberts, Jr. (Chi 1934)

Charter Member

Walter Roberts was born in 1914 in Cambridge, MA.  He was initiated into Kappa Alpha Psi at the Chi Chapter at Boston University.  Brother Roberts was a graduate of Massachusetts School of the Arts where he studied applied industrial advertising – graduating in 1935.  He immediately entered Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh where he earned a degree in Architecture.  He served as the President of Walter Roberts Associates architectural firm in Pittsburgh.  Among Brother Roberts many accomplishments – he was one of seven black artists to work on the 1939 New York Worlds Fair.  He also designed several notable structures in Pittsburgh including Reizenstein Middle School, The Hill House and the Reed Roberts Apartments – all in Pittsburgh.  Brother Roberts passed away in Pittsburgh in 1982.

Ralph O. Barnett (BE 1937)

Charter Member

Ralph O. Barnett was born in Pittsburgh PA in 1915.  He was a graduate of Schenley High School and later attended Carnegie Institute of Technology where he studied Mechanical Drawing.  During WWII, Brother Barnett served as a Army Sergeant under General George S. Patton and during the battle of the Bulge, Brother Barnett helped supply the Third Army with troops and supplies.  He would later be promoted in the field to 1st Lieutenant in the Army.  After the war, Brother Barnett would serve as a Pittsburgh police officer and later become the first African American to be promoted to the rank of Police Inspector in the City of Pittsburgh in the summer of 1963. He served on the police force for 27 years.  In January 1978, Brother Barnett was elected to serve on the Liquor Control Board for the state of Pennsylvania, the first African American to serve on the Board.  Brother Barnett passed away in 1994.

Benjamin F. Duncan, Jr. (BE 1937)

Charter Member

Benjamin Franklin Duncan was born in 1917 in McKeesport, PA.  He attended Duquesne University.  Brother Duncan served in the US Army during WWII in 1942.  He would later go on to own a Mortuary business in McKeesport and later become a teacher in Tappohandck Va, when he moved there in 1956.  Brother Duncan passed away in 1988.

Lorenzo A. Hill (BE 1937)

Charter Member

Lorenzo Hill was born in 1916 in Pittsburgh, PA.  He was a graduate of Schenley High School in 1934 and Duqensne University in 1941 with a degree in Accounting.  He served in the Armed Forces during WWII and also worked at North Carolina Mutual Insurance as an Insurance agent. He held several other positions in business during his long career in the Pittsburgh area.  Brother Hill passed away in Pittsburgh in 2013.

Russell T. Washington (BE 1937)

Charter Member

Brother Russell T. Washington was born in 1914 in Culpeper, Virginia.  Brother Washington graduated from Westinghouse in June 1933 where he lettered in track.  In the fall of 1935, Brother Washington enrolled at Duquesne University in business administration and accounting where he graduated in 1940 with a B.S. Degree.  Brother Washington began his career at the Pittsburgh Courier in the Advertising Department.  Subsequently he was promoted to Assistant Business Manager and Controller in his 26 years at the Pittsburgh Courier.  He was then hired as a statistician in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Statistics for 3 years.  In 1969, Brother Washington joined the Homewood Brushton Neighborhood Health Center (now known as the Alma Illery Health Center) as their business manager and after 30 years retired as their controller in 1999.  Brother Washington passed away in 2016.