Founder of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Incorporated passes away

By Randall Barnes Jun 17, 2024

Hudnell was one of the 12 founders of the fraternity.

Louis Hudnell, a founding member of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Incorporated, has passed away, leaving a legacy that will be remembered by many. The organization shared the news of his passing on various social media platforms, highlighting his contributions and impact within the fraternity.

“It is with deep sadness that Iota Phi Theta announces the passing of Most Honorable Founder Louis Hudnell. The fraternity respectfully appreciates his contributions as a founder of our great fraternity and the Dean of Pledges of the first pledge line in 1964 – The “first 15″ Centaurs. Please take a moment of silence in remembrance,” the social media post read.

Hudnell, along with 11 other men, founded Iota Phi Theta Fraternity on September 19, 1963 at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. The fraternity was established to provide a platform for African American men to come together and make a positive impact in their communities. The organization was established during a period of profound racial tension in America, as a 2015 article by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution documents.

The article showcases key events in 1963 that were crucial moments before the establishment of the fraternity. April 12, 1963 witnessed America’s shock and outrage as Birmingham Police Chief Eugene “Bull” Connor and his officers deployed water hoses and police dogs against peaceful civil rights demonstrators. NAACP field secretary and civil rights leader Medger Evers was assassinated outside his Jackson, Mississippi home.

In the “March on Washington” on August 28th, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have A Dream” speech. But, less than a month later on September 15, 1963, four young girls lost their lives in a dynamite explosion at their Birmingham church during Sunday school. Hudnell and the future founders of the organization united with the aim of launching the organization just three days later.

Iota Phi Theta now boasts over 250 chapters across 40 states in the U.S., including the District of Columbia, and internationally in the Republic of Korea. The organization’s widespread reach extends from California to  New York, Wyoming, Florida, and even reaching as far as Wisconsin and The Bahamas Islands in the Caribbean.

Throughout his life, Hudnell was deeply involved in the fraternity’s initiatives. Per the statement from the fraternity, Hudnell served as the Dean of Pledges during the first pledge line in 1964.