In Defense of the "Divine 9" Fraternities & Sororities

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The Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. – founded in 1906 on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. ΑΦA’s colors: black and old gold. ΑΦA’s motto: “First of all, servants to all, we shall transcend all.” The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. – founded in 1908 on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. AKA’s colors: salmon pink and apple green. AKA’s motto: “By merit and by culture.” The Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. – founded in 1911 on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. KAΨ’s colors: crimson and cream. KAΨ’s motto: “Achievement in every field of human endeavor.” The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. – founded in 1911 on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. ΩΨΦ’s colors: royal purple and old gold. ΩΨΦ’s motto: “Friendship is essential to the soul.” The Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. – founded in 1913 on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. ΔΣΘ’s colors: crimson and cream. ΔΣΘ’s motto: “Intelligence is the torch of wisdom.” The Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. – founded in 1914 on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. ΦBΣ’s colors: royal blue and pure white. ΦBΣ’s motto: “Culture for service, service for humanity.” The Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. – founded in 1920 on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. ZΦΒ’s colors: royal blue and white. ZΦΒ’s motto: “A community-conscious, action-oriented organization.” The Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. – founded in 1922 on the campus of Butler University in Indianapolis, IN. ΣΓΡ’s colors: royal blue and gold. ΣΓΡ’s motto: “Greater service, greater progress.” The Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. – founded in 1963 on the campus of Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. IΦΘ’s colors: charcoal gold and gilded brown. IΦΘ’s motto: “Building a tradition, not resting upon one.” These are the fraternities and sororities which makeup the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) – composed of the predominately African-American Greek-letter sororities and fraternities that promote interaction through forums, meetings, and other media for the exchange of information. They are collectively and affectionately known as the “Divine 9.”

The National Pan-Hellenic Council fraternities and sororities claim members of all ages, both genders, all socioeconomic levels, systems of faith, national origin, more political affiliations than you think, and every ethnicity you could imagine. This is as it should be – because the NPHC’s strength comes primarily from its great diversity.

For almost 30 years, I have been a proud member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. I’m happy to state that I have many friends, family members, and colleagues in every one of the Divine 9 member organizations. We’re in your workplaces, your houses of worship, and in your sphere of influence.

The Divine 9 fraternities and sororities maintain chapters all over the world. Our members work in fields from architecture to aviation, marketing to medicine, logistics to legal, and education to entrepreneurship. Whether they serve in collegiate or alumni chapters, those are who Greek-affiliated commit themselves to engaging in the issues our of cities and towns: youth mentoring, voters’ rights awareness, teenage pregnancy, conflict resolution, illiteracy, economic empowerment, racial injustice, avoidance from drugs and alcohol, stressing the importance of a quality education, health & wellness initiatives, and more by way of community service.

In case you were wondering, there are many, many Divine 9 fraternity men and sorority women in our armed forces, police departments, fire departments, and every level of our government: local, state, and national. They risk life and limb every single to protect our precious freedoms. They negotiate and legislate for the greatest good of every American citizen. They do our nation – and themselves – an invaluable service.

No human being is perfect. No organization – no matter how well-organized or well-intentioned – will always be able to maintain a high standard of excellence. Over the past few months, you’ve seen media reports about non-NPHC fraternity and sorority members behaving badly. From time to time, there is hazing. There is underage drinking. There is misogynistic behavior, sophomoric pranks, and immature behavior of various sorts. Whenever you hear of these things happening throughout the US, it’s very easy to assume that every member of every Greek-letter organization is guilty. It’s probably tempting to paint all these organizations with the same paintbrush of judgment. The actions of a few can easily make us all look bad. There’s no debating that point.

Incidentally, Divine 9 pledgees don’t learn racially inflammatory chants/songs. Ever.

The 1978 comedic movie “Animal House” is one of my all-time favorite movies, but it bears no resemblance to the members of the Black-Greek letter organizations. I’ve long viewed pledging a fraternity or sorority as an enhancement event. In other words, if a young man who pledges a fraternity was a jerk, he’ll likely be an even bigger jerk after he crosses those burning sands. However, if a young lady who pledges a sorority was community service-minded before, she will probably become more much so after she crosses.

On Saturday, local members of the Divine 9 fraternities and sororities gathered together at Cherokee Lake in Southwest Georgia in fellowship, friendship, and stewardship. It was the convergence of many Pan-Hellenic organizations on one accord sharing one unified spirit. It was a beautiful, powerful thing.

In conclusion, Divine 9 members aren’t troublemakers, we’re trailblazers. They are my brothers and sisters. They are your brothers and sisters, as well – and as such, they need no defense. To my Greek family – IΦΘ, ZΦB, ΦBΣ, ΣΓΡ, KAΨ, ΔΣΘ, ΩΨΦ, AKA, and ΑΦA – I salute you. A-Phi! Long live the Divine 9.


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