African American Greeks
The Black Greek letter sororities and fraternities are rich in history and have played an integral part in the African American experience since the early 1900s. Greek organizations were established on the campuses of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. These organizations were a source of community, support and service for Black students and professionals. Among the ranks of these sororities and fraternities are some of the most influential leaders in our country (Vice President, Kamala Harris - Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and Actress Cicely Tyson - Delta Sigma Theta Sorority).
The National Pan-Hellenic Council was established as a collaborative umbrella organization composed of historically African American collegiate Greek lettered fraternities and sororities. The National Pan-Hellenic Council was founded on the campus of Howard University in Washington, DC on May 10, 1930 and is a collective of nine Black Greek letter organizations referred to as the "Divine Nine”:
- Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. - Founded 1908
- Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. - Founded 1913
- Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. - Founded 1920
- Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. - Founded 1922
- Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. - Founded 1906
- Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. - Founded 1911
- Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. - Founded 1911
- Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. - Founded 1914
- Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. - Founded 1963
Since these nine organizations were established and incorporated, membership has spread globally, with chapters in Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. The mission of the "Divine Nine” is public service, civil rights, educational equity and professional development. In 1913 the women of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority financially supported and marched as part of the Women’s Suffrage Parade in Washington DC. The partnership between Black Greek organizations and the United Negro College Fund (U.N.C.F.) demonstrates their dedication to supporting African American higher education and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (H.B.C.U.).
Fun Fact: Historically Black fraternities and sororities on college campuses traditionally sang, danced and chanted to celebrate “Crossing Over” into membership of their respective Greek organizations. This is referred to as “Stepping” which is also performed by schools, cheerleading squads and drill teams.