The Divine Nine
Unlike most predominantly white fraternities and sororities who typically only remain active members during college, black fraternities & sororities also known as the Divine Nine tend to remain members for a lifetime either actively or simply through association.
The Divine 9 is a name used to refer to the 9 Black Greek Letter Organizations that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council (N.P.H.C.) founded on May 10, 1930 on the campus of Howard University. This council consists of 5 fraternity organizations and 4 sorority organizations being:
- Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated. Founded on December 4, 1906 on the campus of Cornell University.
- Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Founded on January 15, 1908 on the campus of Howard University.
- Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. Founded on January 5, 1911 on the campus of Indiana University.
- Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated. Founded on November 17, 1911 on the campus of Howard University.
- Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. Founded on January 13, 1913 on the campus of Howard University.
- Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated. Founded on January 9, 1914 on the campus of Howard University.
- Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. Founded on January 16, 1920 on the campus of Howard University.
- Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated. Founded on November 12, 1922 on the campus of Butler University.
- Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Incorporated. Founded on September 19, 1963 on the campus of Morgan State University.
Fraternity & Sorority Clothing
In the early 19th century, social Greek organizations, known as sororities and fraternities, began forming on college campuses across the United States to provide a sense of community and unique opportunities for students. These organizations were often highly exclusive and barred membership to students of certain genders or races, specifically Black students.
Black Greek Organizations
At the start of the 20th century, a small number of Black students came together from mainly Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to form their own sororities and fraternities. These organizations are known collectively as the National Pan-Hellenic Council or the “Divine Nine”. Each of these organizations were established with unique core values but shared a common goal: to educate and uplift the Black community from racial inequities.
- Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Founded 1906, Cornell University
- Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Founded 1908, Howard University
- Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Founded 1911, Indiana University
- Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Founded 1911, Howard University
- Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Founded 1913, Howard University
- Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Founded 1914, Howard University
- Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Founded 1920, Howard University
- Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Founded 1922, Butler University
- Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Founded 1963, Morgan State University
Contributions to American History
Members of these sororities and fraternities were also heavily involved in several social justice movements such as the Women’s Suffrage, Civil Rights Movement and Black Lives Matter. These organizations have made significant strides to help unite Black communities across the US and continue to collectively organize to serve various social causes.
Famous Fraternity & Sorority Members
Alpha Phi Alpha
- Barry Jenkins – Won the Best Picture Oscar for directing Moonlight.
- Rafael Warnock – First African American to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate.
Alpha Kappa Alpha
- Kamala Harris – First African American elected to the U.S. Vice Presidency.
- Phylicia Rashad – Emmy-nominated and Tony-award winning actress.
Kappa Alpha Psi
- Marquise Goodwin - American football wide receiver and Track and Field Olympian.
- Bernard A. Harris Jr. - First African American to walk in space.
Omega Psi Phi
- Charles Bolden Jr. - Former 12th Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
- Michael Jordan – American businessman and six-time NBA Championship winner.
Delta Sigma Theta
- Shirley Chisholm – First Black woman elected to the United States Congress; First Black candidate for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States.
- Marcia Fudge – Former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and nominee for US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
Phi Beta Sigma
- Kwame Nkrumah – First Prime Minister and President of Ghana.
- Richard Sherman – Five-time Pro Bowl NFL cornerback and philanthropist.
Zeta Phi Beta
- Zora Neale Hurston – Acclaimed author, anthropologist, and filmmaker frequently cited as one of the pre-eminent writers of 20th century African American literature.
- Dionne Warwick – Six-time Grammy Award-winning singer and actress. One of the most charted female vocalists of all time.
Sigma Gamma Rho
- Hattie McDaniel – First African American to win an Oscar for her role in Gone with the Wind.
- MC Lyte – Hip Hop pioneer and the first solo female rapper to release a full album.
Iota Phi Theta
- Terrence Connor Carson – Jazz vocalist and actor best known for his portrayal on hit sitcom Living Single.
For the past century, Black Greek organizations have created safe spaces for young Black adults to excel in college, help unite Black communities across the country with service and have laid the foundation for Black people to connect with each other for professional opportunities. These organizations deserve to be honored this Black History Month for their legacy of excellence.