Strength in Unity: The Story of Black Greek Organizations

Strength in Unity: The Story of Black Greek Organizations


"Happy Founder’s Day!” is a phrase that reverberates in January as five of the nine Divine Nine organizations commemorate their Founders' Day this month. The Divine Nine, a collective term for Black Greek organizations, encompasses a rich history and an enduring legacy of empowerment, community service, and leadership centered around the African American experience. Today, we delve into the remarkable histories and enduring contributions of all nine organizations: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.

These organizations have played pivotal roles in Black history and continue to shape society through their missions, notable achievements, and unwavering dedication to social justice.

  1. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (ΑΦΑ):

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., stands as a historic milestone as the first Black Greek-letter fraternity. Established on December 4, 1906, by seven visionary men at Cornell University, this fraternity emerged during a period of racial segregation and discrimination. It was founded with a mission to offer support and cultivate leadership among Black men who faced numerous obstacles in accessing higher education and leadership roles. These founding "Seven Jewels" envisioned a brotherhood rooted in academic excellence, community service, and social justice. Alpha Phi Alpha's legacy includes pioneering initiatives like the "Go-to-High School, Go-to-College" campaign and boasts illustrious members, including the iconic Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Today, Alpha Phi Alpha continues to uphold its founding principles of brotherhood, scholarship, and community service, leaving an indelible mark on the African American community and society at large.

Notable Alphas: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Lionel Richie, Cornel West

  1. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (ΑΚΑ):

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® (AKA) holds the distinction of being the oldest Greek-letter organization established by African American college-educated women. Founded on the grounds of Howard University in 1908, AKA's impact extends far beyond U.S. borders, with over 355,000 initiated members worldwide. With a mission rooted in fostering scholastic and ethical standards, promoting unity among college women, addressing issues affecting girls and women, maintaining a progressive interest in college life, and providing "Service to All Mankind," AKA has evolved into a global force for change. The sorority's history, beginning on January 15, 1908, with nine junior and senior founding members, reflects a tradition of excellence and unity upheld by iconic symbols like the ivy leaf and the colors salmon pink and apple green. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® continues to make a significant impact on society through education, social action, and sisterhood.

Notable Members of Alpha Kappa Alpha: Phylicia Rashad, Kamala Harris, Mae Jemison

  1. Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. (ΚΑΨ):

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. was founded on January 5, 1911, at Indiana University Bloomington amidst a backdrop of racial discrimination and intolerance. During an era of social ostracization and Ku Klux Klan influence in Indiana, a small group of Black students pursued higher education and established this fraternity. Their vision was to provide a supportive brotherhood to inspire Black youth to achieve excellence in all fields. Although originally named Kappa Alpha Nu, the fraternity later adopted the Greek letter "Ψ" instead of "N," officially becoming Kappa Alpha Psi on April 15, 1915. Today, Kappa Alpha Psi is a global fraternity with chapters across the United States and internationally, fostering a legacy of achievement, leadership, and service.

Notable Members of Kappa Alpha Psi: Colin Kaepernick, John Singleton

  1. Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. (ΩΨΦ):

Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. was founded on November 17, 1911, at Howard University in Washington, D.C., during a challenging period of racial discrimination. Its founders, Edgar Amos Love, Oscar James Cooper, Frank Coleman, and faculty advisor Ernest Everett Just, established the fraternity with a motto that emphasized friendship as essential to the soul. Their core principles of Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance, and Uplift guide the fraternity's mission. Despite initial challenges, Omega Psi Phi expanded nationally and played a pivotal role in initiatives like National Achievement Week. Today, it remains a symbol of leadership, service, and resilience, leaving a lasting impact on the African American community and society.

Notable Members of Omega Psi Phi: Ricky Smiley, Langston Hughes

  1. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (ΔΣΘ):

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. has a storied history of commitment to social justice and community empowerment, with milestones such as participation in the Suffrage March of 1913 to advocate for women's voting rights. Founded in 1913 at Howard University, the sorority has a legacy that includes the establishment of the National Library Project, career development initiatives, and advocacy for women's rights. In 1992, Delta Sigma Theta became the first Black Greek-letter organization to be named a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, underscoring its global impact. The sorority's centennial celebration in 2013 marked a century of service, leadership, and advocacy for social change.

Notable Members of Delta Sigma Theta: Aretha Franklin, Shirley Chisholm, Angela Bassett

  1. Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. (ΦΒΣ):

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, founded on January 9, 1914, at Howard University, exemplifies brotherhood, scholarship, and service. Its Founders, A. Langston Taylor, Leonard F. Morse, and Charles I. Brown, aimed to create an inclusive organization that embraced diversity based on merit rather than race or family background. Phi Beta Sigma's motto, "Culture For Service and Service For Humanity," reflects its commitment to giving back and using skills for societal betterment. The fraternity has since grown into an international organization, contributing to society through initiatives like the Phi Beta Sigma National Foundation and The Sigma Beta Club Foundation.

Notable Members of Phi Beta Sigma: Al Roker, Bill Clinton, George Washington Carver

  1. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. (ΖΦΒ):

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, was founded by visionary women who recognized the need for a new type of Greek-letter organization. The Founders embodied modesty, strength of character, and a commitment to academic excellence. Their principles of Service, Scholarship, Sisterly Love, and Finer Womanhood have inspired generations of women to believe in these ideals. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. values service, scholarship, and sisterhood and has left a lasting legacy of empowerment and community service.

Notable Members of Zeta Phi Beta: Zora Neale Hurston, Towanda Braxton

  1. Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. (ΣΓΡ):

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., founded on November 12, 1922, in Indianapolis, Indiana, by seven dedicated young educators, has become a beacon of sisterhood, leadership, and service. The sorority, granted its charter on December 30, 1929, with the Alpha chapter at Butler University, now boasts over 100,000 collegiate and professional women across 500 chapters worldwide. Beyond core membership, Sigma Gamma Rho nurtures affiliate groups like the Rhoer Club Affiliates and Philos Affiliates, contributing to various service efforts and programs. The sorority's motto, "Greater Service, Greater Progress," underscores its commitment to community outreach, education, and leadership development. Sigma Gamma Rho's mission to enhance the quality of life for women and their families through service, civil and social action, focusing on education, health awareness, and leadership development continues to make a positive impact locally and globally.

Notable Members of Sigma Gamma Rho: Hattie McDaniel, Kelly Price

  1. Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. (ΙΦΘ):

In the midst of the civil rights movement in 1963, less than 50 miles from the historic "March on Washington," 12 students at Morgan State College (now Morgan State University) in Baltimore, Maryland, embarked on a journey that led to the founding of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Incorporated. These men, diverse in backgrounds and age, were committed to education and character. Their motto, "Building a Tradition, Not Resting Upon One!" reflects their dedication to scholarship, leadership, citizenship, fidelity, and brotherhood. From its modest beginnings, Iota Phi Theta has grown into a major predominantly African-American social service fraternity with over 300 chapters in the United States and internationally. The fraternity continues to make meaningful contributions to society, particularly within the African-American community.

Notable Members of Iota Phi Theta: Kirby Wilson, Spencer Christian

These Divine Nine organizations have stood as pillars of strength, empowerment, and unity within the African American community, addressing societal issues, promoting education, and fostering leadership, heavily influencing our nation's narrative. We're excited to share that has recently been licensed by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and we encourage you to keep an eye out for our upcoming collection that celebrates this partnership. As you explore, you'll discover a wide array of apparel and merchandise that not only showcases your style but also contributes to the continued success of the historically black colleges and universities that played a pivotal role in founding some of these distinguished organizations. Embrace history, style, and purpose by visiting HBCULeggings and show your love for these remarkable legacies.

Love and leggings,



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<h5><strong>ABOUT THE AUTHOR</strong></h5>

<span style="float: left; margin-right: 25px;"><img src="" alt="" width="106" height="159" /></span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Bibi Mama is a first generation Beninese-American actress born and raised in Mansfield, CT. Growing up she watched her father, an English professor and author, continue the Yoruba oral tradition through storytelling, which inspired her. She earned her B.F.A. from Howard University and recently finished her MFA at the Old Globe/University of San Diego MFA Graduate Acting Program.</span></div>

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