Since 1930, the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) has served as a premier organization for African-American fraternities and sororities. The NPHC was founded at Howard University to support black college students who were searching for a voice, community, and shared identity as they pursued their education. This organization played a vital role in uniting black collegiates as they fought for equal rights and fair treatment under the law, and today the NPHC continues to bring young men and women together as they honor the history, traditions, and values of their Greek organizations. The NPHC currently has nine members and these Greek organizations are commonly referred to as “The Divine Nine”.
The Divine 9 Black Greek Letter Organizations:
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. (AKA)
Alpha Kappa Alpha was founded in 1908 at Howard University to encourage its members to aspire to the highest levels of scholastic achievement, service, and friendship. As the oldest of the original NPHC Greek organizations, AKA has 105,000 chapters and 290,000 sorority members. The sixteen women who started AKA in Washington D.C. could never have imagined that their organization would become a vital part of college life in Japan, Germany, the Virgin Islands, and thousands of campuses across the United States.
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. (AΦA)
Alpha Phi Alpha was founded in 1906 at Cornell University in New York. AΦA is more than a Divine Nine member: it is the first black intercollegiate Greek fraternity in the nation. Its members have fought for civil rights and social justice through segregation, apartheid, the AIDS crisis, and multiple wars, and civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and W.E.B. Du Bois were proud members of the fraternity. AΦA now has 730 chapters and 290,000 members across the world, and the Greek organization continues to support charitable initiatives like Head Start, Project Alpha, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity (KAΨ)
Kappa Alpha Psi was founded in 1911 at Indiana University, and in 1930 the fraternity joined NPHC as a member organization. Although KAΨ was founded as a predominantly African-American Greek organization, it has always been an inclusive fraternity that invites members of all races and nationalities. KAΨ’s motto is “achievement in every field of human endeavor”, and its members continue to live up to their creed by supporting organizations like Habitat for Humanity and the United Negro College Fund. KAΨ is also known for its step shows: the “Kappa Kane” and “cane stepping” have been some of the fraternity’s most popular traditions since the 1950s.
From Our Sponsors – Get 15% off all Fraternity & Sorority merch from the GreekGear superstore. Use code GRk15.
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority (ΔΣΘ)
Delta Sigma Theta was founded in 1913 at Howard University, and since its inception the sorority has been actively involved in civil rights and women’s suffrage campaigns. ΔΣΘ participated in the Women’s Suffrage March on March 3, 1913, and it is currently a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW). ΔΣΘ is also involved in several charitable initiatives, including the Go Red For Women Campaign and World Aids Day. Notable ΔΣΘ members include Shirley Chisholm and Loretta Lynch.
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. (ΩΨΦ)
Omega Psi Phi was founded in 1911 at Howard University, and manhood, scholarship, perseverance, and uplift are the cardinal principles that have guided its members for over a century. ΩΨΦ is the first black fraternity to be founded at a HBCU, and its members have become famous for their involvement in business, politics, civil rights, the arts, sports, and education. Bill Cosby, Michael Jordan, and Rev. Jesse Jackson were all members of ΩΨΦ, and today the fraternity has over 750 undergraduate and graduate chapters around the world.
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity (ΦBΣ)
Phi Beta Sigma was founded in 1914 at Howard University to encourage “brotherhood, scholarship, and service” among young African-American men. ΦBΣ is known for starting many Greek traditions, including alumni chapters, youth mentoring clubs, and fraternity credit unions. ΦBΣ members are committed to their education and their communities, which is why ΦBΣ is actively involved in programs like Project S.W.W.A.C. (Sigmas Waging War Against Cancer) and the Bigger and Better Business. ΦBΣ has an international reach: the fraternity has more than 200,000 members throughout the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Asia.
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority (ZΦB)
Zeta Phi Beta was founded in 1920 at Howard University as a sister organization to Phi Beta Sigma. ZΦB has always been involved in social causes, including the National Educational Foundation and Z-H.O.P.E. (Zetas Helping Other People Excell). In 1948, ZΦB was the first Greek organization to charter a chapter in Africa, and today the sorority has more than 800 chapters in North America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. Famous ZΦB members include Minnie Riperton, Anita Hill, and Zora Neale Hurston.
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority (ΣΓΡ)
Sigma Gamma Rho was founded in 1922 at Butler University, and its members are actively involved in social causes that impact their communities. ΣΓΡ is involved in a wide range of programs, including ACT Against Aids, Buckle Up America, and the National Marrow Donor Program. Notable members include Deshauna Barber (Miss USA 2016) and Joyce Carol Thomas.
Iota Phi Theta Fraternity (ΙΦΘ)
Iota Phi Theta was founded in 1963 at Morgan State University during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. The twelve men that started ΙΦΘ were non-traditional students who were influenced by civil rights leaders like Malcom X and the Black Panthers. ΙΦΘ became heavily involved in social causes, activism, and service, including the boycott of a segregated shopping mall in Baltimore, MD. Congressman Bobby Rush and Terrence T.C. Carson were both members of ΙΦΘ, and today more than 30,000 college students are a part of the fraternity’s chapters.
There are many more organizations that you can join in college in addition to the Divine 9, and each one has its own identity and history. It is the responsibility of the student to research what a particular organization stands for, and the requirements membership entails. Most fraternities and sororities recruit members that have leadership potential, good moral character, and excellent academic track record.