Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) begin the new school year in a few short weeks and many students will have questions about sororities and fraternities on campus at a black college—like, are black sororities and fraternities high classed gangs, which sorority or fraternity suits you best and the length of your commitment. But here are some facts you’ll need to know before you join a Black Greek letter organization.
1. Blacks were not welcomed in other established Greek letter sororities and fraternities.
So, Black Greek letter organizations were created to provide access to its members to sisterhood and brotherhood while attending college. There are nine Black Greek letter organizations that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council.
2. The length of your commitment is a lifetime.
When you join a black sorority or fraternity, your commitment is forever. You don’t have to wear your letters every day, but you are expected to honor and uphold the principles which these founding members of Black Greek letter organizations set.
3. Many of the “Divine Nine” members were founded during the early 20th century and many were established at black colleges.
The benefits are identical for all of them, but each one is unique and has its own identity and history.
Alpha Phi Alpha is the oldest black fraternity in the country and was founded at Cornell University in 1906.
Alpha Kappa Alpha is the oldest black sorority in the country and was founded at Howard University in 1908.
Kappa Alpha Psi was originally chartered and incorporated as Kappa Alpha Nu in 1911 at Indiana University. Later the name was changed to Kappa Alpha Psi in 1915.
Omega Psi Phi is the unofficial brother organization of Delta Sigma Theta and was founded in 1911 at Howard University.
Delta Sigma Theta is the largest black sorority in the world and was founded at Howard University in 1913.
Phi Beta Sigma is the first Black Greek letter organization to set-up alumni chapters for its members and was founded at Howard University in 1914.
Zeta Phi Beta is the official sister organization of Phi Beta Sigma and was founded at Howard University in 1920.
Sigma Gamma Rho was founded in 1922 at Butler University by seven school teachers.
Iota Phi Theta is the youngest NPHC member and the fifth largest black social service fraternity in the country. Iota was founded in 1963 on the campus of Morgan State College now known as Morgan State University.
4. You will be looked up to as a “role model.”
This is important. Members of black sororities and fraternities are role models on campus who uphold high ethical and, or moral values: Don’t forget it.
5. What you get out of it.
Joining a black sorority or fraternity on campus at an HBCU, you will experience a bond with your sisters and brothers that no other organization can offer. You become part of something larger than yourself, you will become part of a rich history of traditions and activities.
Correction: Many of the “Divine Nine” members were founded during the early 20th century and MOST (5 of 9) were established at HOWARD UNIVERSITY.
Point one is a lie, not all Greek organization kept blacks from joining. Phi Mu Alpha admitted man of color and even was the first to charter on a Black campus – Zeta Iota at Howard university in 1952 – befor the height of the civil rights movement and ten years befor King have his I have a dream speech. So don’t lump all of us in the same race bubble.
Any discussion of BGLOs should pay homage to early attempts to establish lasting unity and improve conditions for black collegians. They include Alpha Kappa Nu (Indiana University, 1903), Pi Gamma Omicron (Ohio State University, 1905), and Gamma Phi (Wilberforce University, 1905). These organizations died out shortly after they were established because their leaders were too short-sighted and didn’t develop plans for succession and sustainability. What today’s BGLOs have in common is a corporate structure, including by-laws, officers, an electoral process, and codes of conduct. They also have distinct identities with unifying symbols, secrets, honors, and traditions that supplement the corporate structure to ensure their long term viability.
As you consider joining one of these organizations, please take note of the sacrifices and humility required to get their organizations to the point they are today. I am a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi, and I’ll be the first to admit that our achievements pale in comparison to our potential. We continuously need and seek good people to execute our objectives. But don’t be fooled! If I, or any of my fellow black Greeks, sense that your interest in membership might undermine the accomplishments of those who came before me, your application will be DENIED.
Membership in any BGLO is a privilege, not a right; and it’s not for everyone. It behooves you to take the time to understand what is required of you BEFORE you set out on this life-long journey. If, and only if, every tenet of the organization is aligned with your interests, talents, and ambitions should you seek to move forward. Good luck & Godspeed. I wish you well.
You fail to mention that most chapters of black fraternities engage in harsh hazing practices, including stressful sessions that take place every night for months and brutal paddlings. There are always a number of multiple-million dollar lawsuits pending against the fraternities and their members.
Check out Eric W. Davis: The Idolatry Behind Secret Societies at https://youtu.be/UxgULhrngzc
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