History of the Alpha Debutante Ball
The Beaux Ball, the forerunner of the Alpha Debutante Ball, had its beginning in 1948.
The Brothers of Pi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. wanted to
make an impact on the social and educational life of African American females
attending colleges and universities throughout the state and the country.
The first activity was held in December 1948 at the Dreamland Ballroom on the corner
of West Ninth and State Streets. The affair was patterned after the Mardi Gras and
Kreus Parades that are held in New Orleans, Louisiana. Brother John King served as
chairman and was instrumental in making the venture a success.
The Fraternity invited guests to witness the presentations of seven young ladies who
were selected to represent the Seven Jewels of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. From
these seven young ladies, a Beaux Queen was selected. The first queen selected in
1948 was Ms. Frankie Snodgrass of North Little Rock, Arkansas. Ms. Snodgrass was a
student at Philander Smith College.
As the interest in the activity continued to grow, it was decided in 1950 to change the
format and expand the activity in order to offer an opportunity for other young ladies
to participate. The name of the activity was changed to the Annual Alpha Phi Alpha
On December 26, 1950, the First Annual Alpha Phi Alpha Debutante Ball was held at
the Robinson Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. Thirteen beautiful, excited young ladies
made their formal entrance into society. They waltzed with their escorts to the tune of
“I Love You Truly.” Ms. Thelma Pauline Minton of Little Rock, the daughter of Mr.
and Mrs. Paul L. Minton and at that time a sophomore at Arkansas AM&N College
(now University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff), was selected as Ms. Pi Lambda.
The Alpha Debutante Ball now presents high school senior ladies to society on a
yearly basis during a formal black tie event, as it was 71 years ago.