The fraternity was founded by twelve men in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement even though there were already 4 other prominent Historically Black Fraternities at the time. Influences included organizations such as the Black Panthers, SNCC, plus individuals like Malcolm X, and Stokely Carmichael. Iota brothers participated in various protests and sit-ins throughout the city of Baltimore. The founders were distinguished from their peers as they were all non-traditional students. Older than their peers, many had served in the military, working full-time while attending classes, and having families. On September 19, 1963, in the height of the Civil Rights' Movement, these twelve founders gathered together on the steps of Hurt Gymnasium on the campus of Morgan State College (now known as Morgan State University) and formed Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. The fraternity was formed as a support system for men of color during the turbulent U.S. social climate of the time.