They were created for us, by us.
Few things are more sacred in Black culture than the Divine Nine. There’s Jesus, that bible your grandmother had on display at her house, Jack and Jill of America, and the Divine Nine. Everyone knows at least one member of a Greek-letter organization and whether you’re a member or not, the culture of the organization is an extension of African-American culture. We’ve all bore witness to a good stroll, been prompted to pledge by a family friend or next-door neighbor, or made sure to not step on one of the sacred plots while walking the yard.
It is a decidedly Black experience, and we are all grateful to the work these organizations have done to foster an inclusive and intentional sisterhood and brotherhood. Benefits of being a member of the Divine Nine are plentiful and if you can make the trek to cross the burning sands, you’re well on your way to a built-in lifetime network of fellow Black Americans that are invested in your success. To help you learn more about the importance of these organizations, here’s everything you need to know about the birth of the Divine Nine, courtesy of Ohio State University.
Six were founded on the campus of Howard University.
“The National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc. (NPHC), also referred to as the Divine Nine, is the umbrella organization housing Black Greek-letter organizations. The NPHC was founded at Howard University in Washington, DC on May 10, 1930, and incorporated under laws in Illinois in 1937.” Although six of the orgs were founded at Howard, Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity was founded at Indiana University, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity was founded at Cornell University, and Iota Phi Theta fraternity, the last organization to make up and complete the Divine Nine, was founded at Morgan State University.
NPHC was founded by Alpha Kappa Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Delta Sigma Theta, and Zeta Phi Beta.
Now it includes all nine Greek-letter organizations. “Its member organizations include Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. Altogether, the council’s membership exceeds 1.5 million individuals around the world. In 1995, the first international chapter was formed in Nassau, Bahamas.”
The National Pan-Hellenic Council was founded because African-Americans were being denied certain rights on college campuses.
“Each of the nine NPHC organizations evolved during a period when African-Americans were being denied essential rights and privileges afforded to others. Racial isolation on predominantly white institution campuses created a need for African-Americans to align themselves with other individuals sharing common goals and ideals.
With the realization of such a need, the African-American Greek-lettered organization movement took on the personae of a haven and outlet, which could foster brotherhood and sisterhood in the pursuit to bring about social change through the development of social programs that would create positive change for Black people and the country. Today the need remains the same.”
The council’s mission is unity among the member organizations and fostering cooperative actions in service of mutual issues.
“The goal of the National Pan-Hellenic Council is to promote unity among its member organizations and address problems of mutual interest to those organizations. In the 1960s, for example, the NPHC became a crucial supporter of the efforts of civil rights organizations such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). While the NPHC recognizes separate priorities of the organizations within the Council, it also encourages all member organizations to support the leading national programs of the other Greek-letter fraternities and sororities.
The purpose of the NPHC shall be to foster cooperative actions of its members in dealing with matters of mutual concern. To this end, the NPHC promotes the well-being of its affiliate fraternities and sororities, facilitates the establishment and development of local councils of the NPHC and provides leadership training for its constituents.”
Long live the Divine Nine.
Here’s everything you need to know about the birth of the Divine 9. Photo Courtesy of Brianna Milord/FSUNews.com.