TSOCG presents day two of Black History Month 2014: “The Divine Nine”
These are the nine historically Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLOs) that together comprise the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC). The NPHC was created in an era when racial segregation and disenfranchisement plagued African Americans. The establishment of each of these organizations bore witness to the fact that despite hardships African Americans refused to accept a status of inferiority.
The organization’s stated purpose and mission in 1930:
“Unanimity of thought and action as far as possible in the conduct of Greek letter collegiate fraternities and sororities, and to consider problems of mutual interest to its member organizations.”
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.: Founded December 4, 1906 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Its founders are known as the “Seven Jewels” and its principles are “manly deeds, scholarship, and love for all mankind.” Its motto is First of All, Servants of All, We Shall Transcend All.
Alpha Phi Alpha evolved into a primarily service-oriented organization and provided leadership and service during the Great Depression, both World Wars, and during the Civil Rights Movement. The organization addressed (and still addresses) social issues such as apartheid, AIDS, urban housing, and other economic, cultural, and political issues of interest to people of color. The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial and World Policy Council are programs of Alpha Phi Alpha. It also conducts philanthropic programming initiatives with March of Dimes, Head Start, Boy Scouts of America, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
Notable members of Alpha Phi Alpha: Jamaican Prime Minister Norman Manley, Nobel Prize winner Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr., Olympian Jesse Owens, Justice Thurgood Marshall, United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, singer Lionel Richie and Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.:Founded January 15, 1908 at Howard University in Washington, D.C. by a group of twenty students, led by Ethel Hedgeman Lyle. Alpha Kappa Alpha was incorporated on January 29, 1913.
After the organization’s establishment over a century ago, Alpha Kappa Alpha has helped to improve social and economic conditions through community service programs. Members have improved education through independent initiatives, contributed to community-building by creating programs and associations, such as the Mississippi Health Clinic, and influenced federal legislation by Congressional lobbying through the National Non-Partisan Lobby on Civil and Democratic Rights. The sorority works with communities through service initiatives and progressive programs relating to education, family, health, and business.
Notable members of Alpha Kappa Alpha: actress Loretta Devine, actress Phylicia Rashad, author Toni Morrison, and vocalist Cassandra Wilson.
Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.: Founded as Kappa Alpha Nu on the night of January 5, 1911 by ten African-American college students at Indiana University Bloomington.
The motto of the fraternity is, “Achievement in every field of human endeavor”. During this time there were very few African-American students at the majority white campus at Bloomington, Indiana and they were a small minority due to the era of the Jim Crow laws. Many African-American students rarely saw each other on campus and were discouraged or prohibited from attending student functions and extracurricular activities by white college administrators and fellow students. African-American students were denied membership on athletic teams with the exception of track and field. The racial prejudice and discrimination encountered by the founders strengthened their bond of friendship and growing interest in starting a social group.
Some believe the Greek letters Kappa Alpha Nu were chosen as a tribute to Alpha Kappa Nu, but the name became an ethnic slur among racist factions. Founder Elder Watson Diggs, while observing a young initiate compete in a track meet, overheard fans referring to the member as a “kappa alpha nig”, and a campaign to rename the fraternity ensued. The resolution to rename the group was adopted in December 1914, and the fraternity states, “the name acquired a distinctive Greek letter symbol and KAPPA ALPHA PSI thereby became a Greek letter fraternity in every sense of the designation.” Kappa Alpha Psi has been the official name since April 15, 1915.
Notable Members of Kappa Alpha Psi: Gospel musician Byron Cage, comedian Cedric “The Entertainer” Kyles, and Civil Rights leader Ralph D. Abernathy.
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.: Founded on November 17, 1911 by three Howard University juniors, Edgar Amos Love, Oscar James Cooper and Frank Coleman, and their faculty adviser, Dr. Ernest Everett Just. Omega Psi Phi is the first predominantly African-American fraternity to be founded at a historically black university.
Since its founding, Omega Psi Phi’s stated purpose has been to attract and build a strong and effective force of men dedicated to its Cardinal Principles of manhood, scholarship, perseverance, and uplift.
In 1924, at the urging of fraternity member Carter G. Woodson, the fraternity launched Negro History and Literature Week in an effort to publicize the growing body of scholarship on African-American history.Encouraged by public interest, the event was renamed “Negro Achievement Week” in 1925 and given an expanded national presence in 1926 by Woodson’s Association for the Study of Negro Life as “Negro History Week.” Expanded to the full month of February from 1976, this event continues today as Black History Month.
Since 1945, the fraternity has undertaken a National Social Action Program to meet the needs of African Americans in the areas of health, housing, civil rights, and education. Omega Psi Phi has been a patron of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) since 1955, providing an annual gift of $350,000 to the program.
Notable members of Omega Psi Phi: poet Langston Hughes, comedians Rickey Smiley, Steve Harvey, and Bill Cosby.
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority,Inc.:Founded on January 13, 1913, by 22 collegiate women at Howard University. These women wanted to use their collective strength to promote academic excellence and to provide assistance to persons in need. The first public act of Delta Sigma Theta was the Women’s Suffrage March in Washington D.C., March 3, 1913. Delta Sigma Theta was incorporated as a perpetual body in 1930. Today, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority is the largest African-American Greek-lettered organization.
Since its founding, Delta Sigma Theta has been at the forefront of creating programming to improve political, education, and social and economic conditions. Delta Sigma Theta has been pivotal in assisting the African American and International communities through education, lobbying, and economic initiatives, including Delta Days at the State and Nation’s Capitol, Delta Days at the United Nations, Summits and various conferences which focus on pertinent issues of the day. In addition to establishing independent programming, The Sorority consistently collaborates with community and corporate organizations Such as Chase (bank), Habitat for Humanity, Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, Lawry’s, and General Electric to further its programming goals.
Notable members of Delta Sigma Theta: actress Keshia Knight Pulliam, singers Natalie Cole and Roberta Flack, and athlete Wilma Rudolph.
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.: Founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C. on January 9, 1914, by three young African-American male students with nine other Howard students as charter members. The fraternity’s founders (A. Langston Taylor, Leonard F. Morse, and Charles I. Brown) wanted to organize a Greek letter fraternity that would exemplify the ideals of Brotherhood, Scholarship and Service while taking an inclusive perspective to serving the community as opposed to having an exclusive purpose.
The fraternity exceeded the prevailing models of Black Greek-Letter fraternal organizations by being the first to establish alumni chapters, youth mentoring clubs, a federal credit union, chapters in Africa, and a collegiate chapter outside of the United States, and is the only fraternity to hold a constitutional bond with a predominantly African-American sorority, Zeta Phi Beta (ΖΦΒ), which was founded on January 16, 1920, at Howard University in Washington, D.C., through the efforts of members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity.
Notable members of Phi Beta Sigma: George Washington Carver, James Weldon Johnson, Kwame Nkrumah, and activist Hosea Williams.
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.: Founded on January 16, 1920 by five collegiate women (Arizona Cleaver Stemmons, Myrtle Tyler Faithful, Viola Tyler Goings, Fannie Pettie Watts, and Pearl Anna Neal) at Howard University. The organization was founded “on the simple belief that sorority elitism and socializing should not overshadow the real mission for progressive organizations – to address societal mores, ills, prejudices, poverty, and health concerns of the day.”
In 1948, Zeta Phi Beta became the first Greek-letter organization to charter a chapter in Africa (in Monrovia, Liberia).It was also the first organization to establish adult and youth auxiliary groups and centralize its operations in a national headquarters.Today, there are also chapters in U.S. Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Bahamas, Japan, Korea, Barbados, and Haiti.
Zeta Phi Beta is the only NPHC sorority that is constitutionally bound to a fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma. The sorority also maintains connections to several organizations including the NPHC, American Diabetes Association, March of Dimes, American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, National Council of Negro Women, and the United Negro College Fund.
The sorority also holdsZeta Day on the Hill, which provides an opportunity for Zetas to exercise another level of civic responsibility by learning the protocols for interacting with and the knowledge needed to maximize engagement with congressional representatives. As members of a “Community Conscious-Action Oriented” organization, Zetas schedule meetings with their representative or their representative’s designee to discuss, during brief sessions, issues of interest to the local, state and national Zeta membership.
On January 25, 2001, Zeta Phi Beta was granted Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status with the United Nations.
Notable members of Zeta Phi Beta: author Zora Neale Hurston, singer Sarah Vaughan, comedienne Sheryl Underwood, singers Minnie Riperton and Towanda Braxton.
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.: Founded on November 12, 1922 at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana by seven young educators. It was incorporated within the state of Indiana in December 1922 and became a national collegiate sorority on December 30, 1929, when a charter was granted and the Alpha chapter was established.
The sorority is a non-profit whose aim is to enhance the quality of life within the community. Public service, leadership development and the education of youth are the hallmark of the organization’s programs and activities.
Founded in the midst of segregation, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. is the only sorority of the four historically African-American sororities in the NPHC that was established on a predominantly white campus.
Notable members of Sigma Gamma Rho: singer Kelly Price, rapper MC Lyte, and actress Victoria Rowell.
Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc.: Founded on September 19, 1963 at Morgan State University (then Morgan State College) in Baltimore, Maryland.
The fraternity was founded in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement even though there were already four other prominent historically Black fraternities at the time. Influences included organizations such as the Black Panthers, SNCC, and figures such as Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael. The Iota founders were distinguished from their peers as they were all non-traditional students. Being anywhere from three to five years older than their peers, many had served in the military, worked full-time while attending classes full-time, and had families with small children. These elements gave the Founders a different perspective than the typical fraternity member.
A key appeal of Iota Phi Theta is that, as an organization, it refuses to have its members bind themselves to a defined fraternal image but celebrates the individuality of its members.
Notable members of Iota Phi Theta: actor T.C. Carson and athlete Calvin Murphy.
The importance of the “Divine Nine”: During the time in which the first BGLO was established, African Americans across the country were faced with the harsh realities of race-related discrimination. As a result of the various situations that stemmed from these discriminatory practices, various organizations established by the African American community began to surface and some of them were Black Greek Letter Organizations. Since 1906—the founding year of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.—nine fraternities and sororities (affectionately known as the Divine Nine) have had the privilege of developing and establishing chapters throughout the United States and the world. The establishment of these brotherhoods and sisterhoods brought together men and women who were passionate about the goals and ideals of their organization and made a commitment to work together to make a difference in the world in which they lived.
More than this, they gave networking opportunities and all of the other benefits of being a member of a Greek-Letter Organization to people who were barred entry from the historically White Greek-Letter Organizations. The NPHC organizations stand apart from all others in that at their core stand scholarship and service to the community.
I am a proud and active member of an NPHC sorority myself, the lovely, alluring, remarkable, and oh SOOOOOO SWEET Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. I love my organization, and I love my fellow black greeks…the history of all of our organizations shine brightly in all of our missions.
I’m a Deltasig and an SAI sister. If you’re a brother of Phi Mu Alpha, Kappa Kappa Psi, or Delta Sigma Pi, or a sister of Tau Beta Sigma or Sigma Alpha Iota, reblog or like this! I’d love to follow you. :)
The same year that I crossed Alpha, I met a young man who participated in my chapter’s Beautillion and graduated that year. (A Beautillion is the male version of a debutante cotillion - a formal presentation of high school boys into “society.” The boys learn a dance to perform with their escorts and learn to waltz with their mothers. They also earn scholarship money and attend various programs throughout the year focusing on personal advancement and service.)
The young man and I struck up a friendship and remained in touch over the years. When he was in college, my first novel Lazarus came out and he was an immediate fan.
For various reasons, he never became an Alpha as an undergraduate. He is now a very successful 30-something year old corporate executive. We talk maybe twice a year and each time I tease him about when he’s finally going to become an Alpha.
This time was a little different. There was something about his reluctance to commit that rubbed me the wrong way, so I delved deeper. I knew he had attended informational meetings but did not submit an application. This time around, he did not submit because “work got crazy.”
Granted, I have only ever worked in the nonprofit sector, which can be rather flexible when you need it to be. And even if it’s not, I am just the kind of person who will make things flexible even when they aren’t. Ask for forgiveness, not permission, as they say.
So when he said “work got crazy,” I told him that it was time to piss or get off the pot. He was already past the age where I think the wonder of being a young initiate creates an indelible mark on your psychological development. He is now nearing that “bucket list” age where people just become members because they say they always wanted to.
I told him they are going to ask him why he waited so long and he’s going to need a good reason, since he “always wanted to” but somehow never did.
(There is more but it’s not as germane to the story.)
He then says the real reason that he didn’t apply the last time was because he went to the informational meeting and sized up the other prospective members. He said that they did not match him intellectually, professionally, by income, or any other measure. He said he didn’t have anything in common with them and wasn’t moved to pursue with them.
I very politely and professionally kirked out, as DC folk say.
I told him he needed to re-read Lazarus and try to return to the root of why he wanted to be an Alpha in the first place, because based on what he just told me, my only response is truly “Alpha is not for you after all.”
I have probably about ten very good friends in Alpha. Maybe closer to five. They are all in different areas of the country.
One is a bureaucrat in a Southern state, pushing papers in a job that doesn’t have strong personal meaning for him. He was bypassed as an undergraduate when he pursued a historic single-letter chapter.
One is an overweight flight attendant with a start-up company that nobody really understands or is very supportive of.
One is over 30, lives at home with his mother, and works on a juvenile psych ward. I don’t know what his job title is, but he seems like an orderly to me.
One flunked out of grad school and has been unemployed for years. He’s essentially a stay-at-home father and suffers from clinical depression.
If these guys showed up at an informational, how would you perceive them? The reject? The flight attendant? The orderly? The loser?
The difference is why Alpha may not be for you.
Alpha is people. Alpha is not titles and income and resumes. Alpha–and any fraternity or sorority–is made up of people. These four men–the reject, the flight attendant, the orderly, and the loser–are my BEST friends and I do not know what I would have done at the lowest points of my life without them. They have lifted me up. They have checked on me when I thought nobody cared.
And they have been there for me to celebrate my victories. They bought and read my books. They care about me. The ones who are gay tell me I inspire them. The ones who are straight tell me I have changed their lives and their worldviews.
What would I do without them? Thank God for Alpha because I don’t even have to fathom such a question.
if Alpha is about how it can personally enhance you, don’t do it. It won’t.
You have got to look at that same room of men–that you deemed unworthy of being associated with you–and see their humanity. If you can’t see it, don’t join.
We can’t all be Martin Luther King. Most of us just want to be ourselves.
As for the reject? He is now the National Executive Director of an association.
The flight attendant with the wacky business idea? Business is booming.
The orderly? He raised his cousin as his own son–and has served on two national committees.
And the loser? He’s a mental health advocate and the best father and husband I know.
I do not know what my friend’s next steps will be, but I think I won’t ask him about his pursuit of Alpha anymore. Instead, I will tell my four Alpha friends how much I love them and how grateful I am that they chose Alpha.
I am honored to sit with them. And anybody who accepts us for who we are can sit with us, too.
We lost a young, ambitious, intelligent brother last night…Life is so incredibly short people…My prayers go out to the family of Neo Jayquon Tillman of the Delta Nu Chapter..he was killed last night at the tender age of 18 while enjoying himself with friends at a party..He only enjoyed the bond for 1 month before his life was taken…You are in a much better place brother…Your family, friends, and brothers will miss you tremendously…words of Pauly Diamonds
YPSILANTI, MI - An 18-year-old Eastern Michigan University student was shot and killed early Saturday, May 6 in Ohio.
In a statement, the university said sophomore Jayquon Tillman of Cleveland died at a large party at a home in Franklin Township, near Kent State University in Akron.
A 20-year-old Columbus woman was shot and wounded at the party, according to EMU.
“It is with the deepest of sympathy that we mourn the death of Jayquon Tillman,” said EMU President James Smith in a statement. “Our heartfelt thoughts go out to his family and friends at this time of grief and sorrow. We stand by to offer whatever support the University can provide to all of those who cared for him and loved him.”
Tillman was a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, the Kings of Color Student organization, and the Washtenaw County My Brothers Keeper Young Brother’s Leadership Council.
EMU Counseling and Psychological Services is offering counseling to students seeking support.
Students can receive after-hours phone support in the evenings and weekends at 734-487-1118, and students can make an appointment to talk to a counselor during business hours at 734-487-1118.
The Portage County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident.
Anyone with information should call the Portage County Sheriff’s Office at 330-296-5100.
EMU mourns loss of student shot at party in Portage County, Ohio YPSILANTI – Jayquon Tillman, an 18-year-old sophomore at Eastern Michigan University, was shot and killed at a large party early Saturday morning in Portage County, Ohio, according to Portage County Sheriff’s reports.
Tillman, who is from Cleveland, belonged to the Delta Nu Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and the Kings of Color Student organization at Eastern. He also was involved in Washtenaw County My Brothers Keeper as a member of its Young Brother’s Leadership Council.
“It is with the deepest of sympathy that we mourn the death of Jayquon Tillman,” said Eastern Michigan University President James Smith. “Our heartfelt thoughts go out to his family and friends at this time of grief and sorrow. We stand by to offer whatever support the University can provide to all of those who cared for him and loved him.”
The Portage County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident, and is handling details of the case. The shooting occurred at a home in Franklin Township, which is located near Kent State University.
A woman, Kalin Cheyenne Lee, age 20, from Columbus, Ohio was also shot and wounded at the party, but was treated and released from a hospital, sheriff’s deputies said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Portage County Sheriff’s Office at 330-296-5100, ext: 0.
EMU Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is prepared to offer counseling to students seeking support. Students can access CAPS’ after-hours phone support in the evenings and weekends by calling 734-487-1118. On weekdays, students can make an appointment to talk to a counselor by calling 734-487-1118 during business hours.
So, as some of you know, the re-chartering process is not cheap. We have to raise $1550 as an installation fee (that covers the cost of ritual equipment, songbooks, and other chapter supplies), plus pay for the visit of the Province Officer and the NVP-E. That’s about 2 grand, and not everyone had a great job over the summer like me and can afford their initiation fee, so we want to have money so that every girl who has worked so very hard for this can be initiated.
We’ve held several fundraisers, but we’re still fairly short of this goal.
If everyone who follows me donated 5 bucks, we’d have almost twice of what we need to get installed. So please, if you can spare it, donate. I have been working for this since October of 2014 and I love this organization to bits, so all I want is to get rechartered this semester, but it can’t happen without this money.
Thank you all for reading this post, love y'all so much!
Vita Brevis, Ars Longa
We got a preview of our engagement photos and they came out better than I ever dreamed! Because our fraternity (Kappa Alpha Psi) and sorority (Sigma Gamma Rho) have a relationship known as Indiana Love, we decided to use that as the theme for our engagement photos, and we shot on Northrup Mall at my alma mater, University of Minnesota.
I am so overjoyed that I’m marrying the love of my life. I love this man so much, he’s my friend, my partner, my protector, my confidant, my cheerleader, my sounding board, and everything else. He’s my heart, my soul, my better half & I’m so excited to become his wife :-)