Members, chapters and the national offices of the Divine Nine are helping communities every day, and I feel strongly that we need to tell those stories. That is why, in 2014, I began tracking news stories from and about the Divine Nine.
I want these news stories to accomplish three things. First, I hope we recognize that members of the Divine Nine are continuing to serve their communities by honoring the aims and ideals of their fraternities and sororities. Second, it is my wish that those of us within the Divine Nine are motivated to do more through our organizations. Third, I want to motivate high-caliber, high-character students to join Divine Nine organizations and take our servant leadership brand to heights we have never imagined.
That said, take a look at my top 10 Divine Nine news stories of the first quarter of 2015:
10. Delta Sigma Theta and Zeta Phi Beta members recognized for advocacy via social media by New York Daily News
Let’s recognize three important things. This piece came out of the country’s biggest media market, it was a Black History Month feature, and it connects the organizations with an important cause. Leontyne Brown, a Delta, was recognized for starting the die-in movement that engaged Divine Nine members across the country even more in the Black Lives Matter movement. The paper also quoted Maliyka Muhammad, a member of Zeta Phi Beta, who said, “The quietest messages are the loudest, and people are able to absorb that.”
Bravo, Antwan J. Walton of Kappa Alpha Psi’s Murfreesboro Alumni Chapter. As a former public relations director, I always encourage folks to call the news out for crappy coverage. The public need not be misled about what really happened at an event because of negligent reporting. Walton called the Daily News Journal out after disagreeing with the paper’s coverage of the chapter’s “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” Teen Summit. If the Kappas didn’t call them out, who would?
I’m not even going to lie, it is hard to get me to dedicate my “Super Sunday” to anything but the big game. That is why I have nothing but respect and love for Omega Psi Phi’s Lambda Iota chapter in Columbus, Ga. The chapter also offered free haircuts, and this marked their third year doing the project.
Raising money for wells in Africa has become sort of a fundraising cliché but there really is a need. Delta’s Roanoke Alumnae Chapter (Va.) is yet another group to answer the call. Over a seven year period, the chapter showed consistency and persistence in their fundraising efforts through yard sales, raffles, and a “Walk for Water”. The Delta women eventually hit their $14,000 goal to assist Water For Children Africa.
Not only did The Butler Collegian, Butler University’s student newspaper, include Sigma Gamma Rho as part of their series but the writer did a great job of providing perspective about the sorority’s founding. Many of us in Black Greek life take for granted that Sigma Gamma Rho (and Kappa Alpha Psi) were founded in a state that, at the time, was a hotbed of Ku Klux Klan activity. One can’t help but gain a new respect for the sorority’s founding and growth.
Mental health, without a doubt, is the elephant in the room when talking about health in Black America. Any mental health professional will tell you how tough it is to get our people, especially men, to confront mental health. Alpha Kappa Alpha is to be applauded for forming this partnership to engage communities with mental health education, awareness, and support activities on college campuses (where such outreach is sorely needed) and in local communities.
It was a long, hard-fought battle by members of the Divine Nine to protect our collective brand. With a social media strategy spearheaded by author, speaker and Alpha Phi Alpha member Lawrence Ross, Jr., VH1 succumbed to the pressure due to an exodus of sponsors from the time slot held by the infamous reality TV show.
3. Alpha Phi Alpha chapter in Liberia distributes medical supplies and equipment in wake of Ebola outbreak
Alpha Phi Alpha’s Eta Epsilon Lambda chapter pooled their international resources to help their country fight the deadly Ebola disease. As a result, the chapter was able to donate medical supplies and equipment valued over $100,000. The chapter also took part in training 1,775 citizens and volunteers covering 63 communities in an aggressive outreach campaign with materials from UNICEF and Liberia’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
One thing we in the Divine Nine take for granted is the importance of our network. I believe that our organizations make up the most prolific leadership network among people of color in America. The Christian Science Monitor, a respected publication, expressed that very well. Satisfying the curiosity of millions of politically-minded Americans, the publication wrote a great piece about the sisterhood, advocacy, and influence of the women of Delta Sigma Theta when members attended the initial confirmation hearing for then-U.S. attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch.
In presenting “The Black Greek Success Program”, I encourage students to think big when they do community service projects. Iota Phi Theta’s Beta Xi chapter at Kean University did that and then some. These gentlemen consulted with a non-profit that works with homeless families, bought a plot of land, and now they are collecting money via GoFundMe to build the house. They are even up for an award from MTV. By the way, did I mention that this is a college chapter?
Five Honorable Mention Divine Nine News Stories of the Quarter:
- Alpha Phi Alpha’s Mississippi district signs memorandum of understanding with the American Red Cross of Mississippi
- California Alpha Kappa Alpha chapter hosts 25th annual HBCU fair
- Richmond, Va. television station pays homage to Divine Nine and other black fraternal organizations for Black History Month
- New Mexico deputy, Phi Beta Sigma member, does push-ups to raise money for scholarships
- Sigma Beta Club chapter participates in Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service.