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FRATERNITIES & SORORITIES
known as the Divine Nine
Alpha Kappa Alpha
Delta Sigma Theta
Sigma Gamma Rho
Zeta Phi Beta
Fraternities:When the German army conquered Paris in 1940, Omega
Alpha Phi Alpha
Iota Phi Theta
Kappa Alpha Psi
Omega Psi Phi
Phi Beta Sigma
Founder Ernest Just was captured and held as a prisoner of war
for a short time.
AKA Founder Norma Elizabeth Boyd was awarded a citation
as "Woman of the Year in the Field of Legislation" from the
National Council of Negro Women on June 13, 1948.
Three of Iota Phi Theta's 12 Founders have the first name
Charles. Sigma and Iota both have a founder by the name of
Two of the Alpha founders worked as waiters at white fraternity
houses. Callis worked at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Kelley at
the Beta Theta Pi House at Cornell University. This is where
they learned about the Greek Letter structure and format.
Callis always admitted that they patterned a great deal of the
foundation of the ritual after the "white boys." Callis also stated
that they were very helpful and cooperative in their quest to
organize the fraternity and even gave them a copy of their
It was Delta Founder Florence Letcher Toms who first began
collecting elephants, which has become a hobby of Delta's all
over the world.
AKA Founder Sarah Merriweather Nutter sent Founder Nellie
Quander a piece of ivy from the grave of former President
Grover Cleveland. This cutting was planted on the right side of
the Manual Arts Building at Howard University
The original idea of establishing a Panhellenic Council came in
1922 when Omega Psi Phi and Phi Beta Sigma were both
hosting their National Conventions in Atlanta at the same time.
The two fraternities held a joint meeting and proposed that the
established fraternities and sororities work together more
harmoniously. During this meeting both sides agreed to urge
the other fraternities and sororities to join up. Because of the
need for unity and the proposal from these two fraternities,
nine years later it became a reality. The official creation of the
NPHC took place in 1930. In 1935 Omega Psi Phi and Phi Beta
Sigma met again repeating the previous historical situation of
14 years before. Two of the Omega Founders, Dr. Oscar J
Cooper & Dr. Edgar A. Love personally visited the Sigma
Conclave to extend greetings.
Butler University (SGRho's alpha chapter) and the University of Indiana
(Kappa's alpha chapter) are less than fifty miles away
from one another.
Of the twenty-two women who organized DST sorority,
two dated founders of Omega Psi Phi. Delta Founder Edith Young
dated Edgar Love and Frank Coleman dated and ultimately
married Edna Brown.
Did you know that the first African-American woman to
win an Academy Award in 1939, was a member of Sigma Gamma
Rho? Her name was Hattie McDaniels and she played Mammy
in "Gone With The Wind."
There have been more members of Phi Beta Sigma serving as
National President of the NPHC than any other NPHC fraternity
Until the mid-eighties all fraternity pledges that entered Hell
Week were considered "dogs". Omega Psi Phi is the only
fraternity that continues the unofficial "dog image"once a
pledge has crossed.
There have been three husband and wife couples to both serve
as National residents of their organizations: Alpha Kappa Alpha
22nd Supreme Basileus, Janet Jones Ballard, was married to
Phi Beta Sigma's 22nd National President, Richard M. Ballard.
Dr. William Hale (20th General President of Alpha Phi Alpha)
and his wife Dr. Larzette Golden Hale (17th Supreme Basileus
of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority). Dr. Ivorite L. Scruggs was the
2nd National President of Phi Beta Sigma and his wife Ruth
Tappe-Scruggs was the 6th Grand Basileus of Zeta Phi Beta
Harlem Renaissance Writer and Folklorist Zora Neale Hurston
pledged Howard's Alpha Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority
Myra Davis holds the distinction of being the only woman to
serve as both Basileus of AKA and President of DST in 1912
and 1913 respectively.
Phi Beta Sigma & Zeta Phi Beta were the first and only
constitutionally bonded Greek Fraternity/Sorority, brother/sister
organizations. They share several of the same cardinal
principles within each respective organization.
Sigma & Zeta both share the same colors, creed, symbols from
their shields, and the namesake of the PHI BETA, they are true
originators of the terms "Frat" & "Soror".
The Founding of Delta Sigma Theta was actually a deadline, in
which the AKA's gave the 22 founders of DST to stop their
rebellion or face expulsion from the sorority. The 22 members
declined to obey the orders and DST was established and
Grace Coleman, sister of Omega founder Frank Coleman, was
elected Delta's first president in 1914 at Howard University.
Grace also was one of the first initiates of the sorority.
The Kappa Alpha Psi application for incorporation was filed over
the signatures of EZRA D. ALEXANDER, BYRON K.
ARMSTRONG, HENRY T. ASHER, MARCUS P. BLAKEMORE, PAUL
CAINE, ELDER WATSON DIGGS, GEORGE EDMUNDS, GUY L.
GRANT, EDWARD G. IRVIN, JOHN M. LEE, AND FREDERICK
MITCHELL (who is this guy?). Mitchell later withdrew from school and therefore never became a member. An issue of the Kappa Journal reported that Irven Armstrong (cousin to Kappa founder Bryon Armstrong) , would have been one of founding fathers if he had not had to work the night of January 5, 1911, the night the fathers signed their names to the great petition or scroll. He later became the second Grand Polemarch.
Although SGRho's were founded at Butler College in 1922 they
were not the first black sorority established at Butler University.
The AKA's had established a chapter two years before their
founding in 1920.
AKA Founder Lucy Diggs Slowe organized the first junior high
school in Washington DC, Shaw Junior High School. She was
Why were Black Greek Letter Organizations founded?
First and foremost, it is important for you to understand why these organizations exist. During the time in which the first BGLO was established, African Americans across the country were faced with the harsh realities of race-related discrimination. Repercussions from slavery were well saturated in the fabric of the American culture, and due to situations resulting from these discriminatory practices, various organizations established by the African American community began to surface and some of them were Black Greek Letter Organizations. Since 1906?the founding year of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.?nine fraternities and sororities (affectionately known as the Divine Nine) have had the privilege of developing and establishing chapters throughout the United States and the world. These organizations provided a common ground for a common purpose. The establishment of these brotherhoods and sisterhoods brought together men and women who were passionate about the goals and ideals of their organization and made a commitment to work together to make a difference in the world in which they lived.What is the purpose of these organizations?
If you were to research the initiatives of each Black Greek Letter Organization, you would discover programs ranging from voter registration drives and economic empowerment programs to campus clean-up initiatives and beyond. Underneath the surface of most nationally recognized activities implemented by these organizations lies the desire to enhance the local and international community.Community service plays a significant role in the foundation of all BGLOs. For example, the first public service initiative completed by the newly founded Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was the 1913 Women's Suffrage March in Washington, DC. Members of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. also showed a unique interest in women's rights during the early stages of their organization's existence. Early interests of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., founded in 1914, also heavily focused on the enhancement of the world in which we live. Their interests included anti-lynching laws and international issues occurring in the Republic of Haiti. As you can see, the scope of these organizations does not solely lie on each respective college or university campus, and their impact is evident worldwide.
Which historically African American sororities/fraternities are at WSU?
Top 15 FAQ about Black Greek Organizations
1. What do I need in order to pledge?
A: 1st: You must be a full-time student at an accredited four year university or college, matriculating towards a bachelor's degree.
2nd: You will have to have the GPA in order to join a Black Greek fraternity or sorority. Each organization has set guidelines for the GPA within the organization. The typical cumulative GPA across the board is 2.5, or a C+. It also depends on the organization. The Kappa's national GPA is 2.3, the AKA's GPA is 2.5, Sigma has recently raised their GPA from 2.3 to 2.5, and the Delta's increased theirs from a 2.5 to a 3.0. To be on the safe side a 2.5 GPA is recommended. Membership requirements also vary on college campuses. Some colleges mandate a GPA level for Greeks on there campus. Like at Tuskegee University students need to have a 2.8 cumulative GPA in order to pledge.
3rd: Letters of Recommendation! Depending on the organization you'll need anywhere from 1 to 3. These letters of recommendation must be from a member of the fraternity or sorority who is "financial". Financial: is defined as a member whose financial obligations, like dues and fees, are paid. Generally, the financial obligation is on both, the local and national level. Also your letters must come from someone who knows you personally.
4th: Community service hours. Several fraternities and sororities require prospective members to have provided some type of public service within the community in which they live. The Top Public Service Groups include: Habitat for Humanity, Voter Registrar, Peer-Mentor (Big Brother/Big Sister Program), The American Red Cross, or The Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts of America.
*Please note* Just because you meet all 4 requirements doesn't solidify your right to make line. For after the informational, the interview, each financial member of the chapter votes on who makes line and who doesn't.
2. What is the meaning regarding being "real" or "paper"?
A: Paper is a term used to identify a Greek fraternity or sorority member who didn't pledge. This person became a member through either an intake process, or by joining a graduate/alumni chapter. Real is a term used to identify those persons who underwent the pledge process. During the pledge period they learn rituals, secrets, history, and tests of brotherhood & sisterhood through the teachings of the dean of pledging. *Please note: "paper" is also a term of disrespect and warrants trouble when thrusted upon the identity of someone who considers themselves "real". Additionally, in all states and institutions of higher learning, pledging is illegal in that you and others run the risk of university expulsion/suspension and possible criminal prosecution.
Q: Which is better?
- A: That is ultimately up for you to decide. Understand that just because one chooses to be "Paper" doesn't mean they love their organization any less than someone who pledged or is considered "Real". If you feel in your heart that taking wood is an expression of how serious your intent is regarding pledging, then we suggest you reconsider the reason why you are pledging. The issue is not "paper" or "real" but education and process. There are both positives and negative benefits to pledging.
- POSITIVE BENEFITS:
- *establishes a brotherly/sisterly bond amongst line pledges.
- *initiates learn history of the fraternity or sorority from a perspective other than books & a written test.
- *pledge lines work together as one entity instead of on an individual basis.
- NEGATIVE BENEFITS:
- *the obvious destruction of your cumulative grade point average.
- *being on call at all hours of the night(24/7).
3. What is an underground line?
A: Back in the 80's before pledging was banned, when you were on line, everyone knew who was pledging. Now it's more or less a secret. An underground line can exist for example, when a chapter is suspended, but they pick up a line off the record. An underground line usually warrants trouble and confusion. The process is null & void in the eyes of nationals and you run the risk that your paperwork will not be processed. The National Office considers that you don't exist if you were on an underground pledge line.
4. What is meant by the term, "black balled"?
- A: "Black balled" & "balled" are terms used to describe situations when a person doesn't make line for certain reasons or is not voted in by a majority vote by current members.
- TOP 5 REASONS WHY YOU MIGHT GET BLACK BALLED:
- a. Caught throwing up the hand signal or doing the call in public, before it was time to!
- b. Purchasing paraphernalia, before you make line. (Which is usually a sign of bad luck)
- c. Expecting to make line because you meet all the requirements or you're a legacy.
- d. You were on an underground line and the line was revealed.
- e. You went to another organizations informational and submitted.
5. What can I do about pledging if the chapter at my school is suspended?
A: 1st option: To our knowledge there's nothing you can do about pledging, if the chapter at your school is under suspension. The only thing remotely possible is to transfer to another university or college. But if you take this option then we believe that your real focus for being in college might need to be re-evaluated seriously. Then if you transfer there's no definite guarantee that you'll be selected on an upcoming line. Transfer students typically have to be a student at the university for two quarters or one semester after transferring, before one can pledge. Be warned that if you do manage to accomplish this mission and you decide to transfer back to your previous school, in the eyes of that chapter and others, you might not be well received.
2nd option: Cross pledging at another university. But I've only heard of this happening when the college or university you attend doesn't have a chartered chapter of it's own. Not if the chapter is suspended.
3rd option: Sometimes it's best to go "GRAD". We understand there's some of you out there that don't want to wait that long.
4th option: The last option is to wait out the suspension and bust your ass during the time the chapter is gone making sure that your total package (community service hours, GPA, recommendations, etc...) is air tight. Also through a considerable amount of prayer, pray that you make that first line once a chapter has been reactivated. Typically national headquarters or a graduate chapter oversees the line, and it's usually large to increase membership, and typically easier than other lines for they wouldn't want to jeopardize further complications within the organization.
6. In relationship to Phi Beta Sigma & Zeta Phi Beta, what is meant by "true family"?
A: "True Family" is a term used by members of Phi Beta Sigma & Zeta Phi Beta, for they were the first constitutionally bonded Greek fraternity/sorority, brother/sister organization, sharing the several of the same cardinal principles within each respective organization. Sigma & Zeta both share the same colors, creed, symbols from their shields, and the name sake of the PHI BETA. They are true originators of the terms "frat" & "soror".
7. So the Alpha's & AKA's, Delta's & Omega's, & Kappa's & SG Rho's aren't brother/sister organizations?
A: Formally the Greek organizations above aren't brother/sister or frat/soror. But each hold a mutual alliance to each other. "Phi-Skee"& "Skee-Phi" are terms used by the Alpha's and AKA's to represent their bond of being the first Black Greek Fraternity & Sorority respectively, but they aren't necessarily frat or soror, but in many cases they do respect each organization as frat or soror. But The Alpha's and AKA's are known as the first family of Black Greeks. On some campuses the AKA's & Kappa's call each other frat or soror. United under the cause that "pretty boys like pretty girls, cause pretty girls like pretty boys." There's also the terms "Phi-Oop" & "Oop-Phi" is which the Alpha's & Delta's use to acknowledge each other. The Delta's & Omega's share a bond that can be traced back to the early years of their organizations. Although they aren't constitutionally bonded like Zeta & Sigma, they do indeed consider each other frat & soror. One of Delta's founders Edna Coleman was the wife of Omega founder Frank Coleman. Several Delta's dated Omega men early on within the early establishment of each. Kappa Alpha Psi & Sigma Gamma Rho hold the distinction of both being founded at universities in the state of Indiana. Which are about 50 miles away from each other.
8. What's the distinction between an "Omega Man" and a "Que Dog"?
A: An "Omega Man" is the name sake term bestowed upon members of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. once it's members cross the burning sands. A "Que-Dog" is a mythical term used to identify pledges while on line during the final stage of the pledge process. It's important to understand that "Que Dogs", canine calls, and camouflage paraphernalia doesn't directly reflect the entire outlook of the organization as set in the guideline by the Grand Chapter. *Please note* Never address or call a member of Omega a "Que-Dog" for it is rather disrespectful. In essence "MEMBERSHIP HAS ITS PRIVILEGES!"
9. Why the DOG image?
A: Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc does not have, nor has it ever endorsed a mascot of any type to be representative of the organization. So why do so many Omega Men like the "dog" image? ".We are not DOGS even though those who misunderstand us would view us otherwise because we possess a dog-matic determination to make changes and the tenacity to see them through, the loyalty of man's best friend and the guardianship to protect the ones we truly love." This analogy was written by the chapter members of Fayetteville State.
10. Was Alpha Phi Alpha the first Black Greek Organization?
A: Although credit is given to Alpha Phi Alpha as being the first and oldest Black Greek Lettered Organization. It must be known that Alpha Phi Alpha is the first to organize successfully and expand into new chapters. But before Alpha, there was Sigma Pi Phi, which was founded under the direction of Henry M. Minton in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This organization was founded for Negro's within the professional ranks of society. So in light Alpha Phi Alpha is the first to successfully grow, and is the oldest to date. But Sigma Pi Phi was the first and is still active today.
11. Why do Black Greek organizations put each other down and not strive for unity?
A: Unity amongst Black Greek letter organizations was first implemented in 1930 at Howard University. In this year The National Pan Hellenic Council was formed as a governing body to aid organizations in a bond of common causes. Although some Greek persons do take Greek life too seriously. It is important to note that these persons have missed the entire purpose of their founders and the organizations goals for the "upliftment of the black race". Each organization does employ chants, steps that out right in a Non-Greek persons eyes would be disrespectful. But it's merely a competition or a rivalry to keep each other on their toes. But each fraternity and sorority has a mutual understanding and respect for the others, it's just most of the time Non-Greeks don't see that.
12. Why are organizations labeled with misconceptions?
A: Well we are sure we've heard all the misconceptions of each particular organization. It is important to realize no matter which particular organization you choose to go into, you will have an image to uphold. Organizations have long been misconceived for various reasons. It's up to the members of these Greek organizations to convince the public that the misconception are of false attributes. But if a Non Greek person views one person doing something, then they attribute that image or act to the entire organization. You shouldn't judge or dictate an entire frat or sorority on the basis of one member. Look beyond the misconceptions and see what they're truly about. Are they about business and community service. Or are they about looking cute, acting an ass in public, and wearing para. If so, then that should be an organization you shouldn't want to join. You learn your ways from traditions that have been handed down during the pledge process.
13. Why do Black Fraternities & Sororities employ Greek letters, instead of an African based alphabet?
A: The origin of Greek letters can be traced back to the first fraternity Phi Beta Kappa. It is important to understand that the Greek writing system and philosophies has connections to Africa, particularly Egypt. The Greeks went to Africa and studied the writings, philosophies, and lifestyles of the Egyptians. Although each organization does employ Greek letters in the creation of its name, the objective of the fraternity was founded with a degree of secrecy in the use of Greek letters. So in keeping with tradition these are the reasons Black Fraternities and Sororities use Greek letter. However, each particular organization employs some type of reference to Africa within the organization. Alphas incorporate the Sphinx, Kappa's incorporate the Scrolls, Sigma's incorporate the Crescent and so forth with the remainder organizations. To become Greek you should know the history that not only did the Greeks study in Egypt, but Jesus & Moses did as well. Also understand the concept of Phonetics and it's creators the Phoenicians. To be a Black Greek, you are expected to exemplify higher standards of living.
14. Are fraternities & sororities high classed gangs?
A: There are many arguments as to whether or not fraternities & sororities are gangs. This basically goes in reference to the said similarities of the Black Greek pledge process and the gang initiation process. This statement is totally false. Fraternities and sororities are NOT gangs in any way, shape, or form.
- Burden of Proof: (1) Fraternities & sororities provide a service to the public vs. gangs are a threat to the public. (2) There are apparent leadership roles within fraternity & sorority members. vs. gangs have no vision or leadership roles in the community. (3) In order to join a Black Greek fraternity or sorority must be pursuing a college degree. vs. typical gang member not pursuing a college degree. *please note* that some gang symbols and hand signs coincide with some Black Greek fraternity or sorority symbols or hand signs.