The Divine Nine: A celebration of empowerment by Black fraternities and sororities

The Divine Nine: A celebration of empowerment by Black fraternities and sororities
Courtesy NPHC

For 94 years, The National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) – a collaborative committee composed of nine historically African American fraternities and sororities, commonly called the Divine Nine – has fostered cooperative actions through innovative programs, community service, and activism.

These pioneering brothers and sisters have influenced many changes throughout the years, ensuring people of color are represented and have a voice. The organizations include Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity,  Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity. 

“Baby, the Divine Nine is part of the Mecca of our urban legacy,” said Cassie J. an active member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority.

Lady Estell, a professor at San Francisco State University and proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, said that African American fraternities and sororities began to emerge during a period when social progress and economic prosperity were being threatened. 

This story is from a special collaboration between SCAD and Rough Draft Atlanta. To read more stories from SCAD students, visit our SCAD x Rough Draft hub.

Beginning in the early 1900s, The Divine Nine began to respond with a special force that broke down barriers for generations to follow. According to an article on KETV 7, the nine members of the Black fraternities and sororities fought through racial discrimination when people of color were fighting for equal rights and opportunities throughout the country. 

The Divine Nine have developed leaders by establishing brotherhood, sisterhood, and academic excellence while providing service and advocacy for the African American community. They have cultivated and encouraged high ethical standards and academic achievement among people of color by forming connections with organizations like the National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP),  the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Black Lives Matter movement.  

The leading legacy of Black fraternities and sororities is centered around their responsibility to move their prospective communities forward. As a result of Black students seeking change, they formed these social groups. Each organization has its meaningful symbols, colors, unique dances, and call signs that you may witness during their engagements as part of their cultural influences. Their efforts have been coordinated through the NPHC to support academic achievement, volunteering, advocacy, and activism.

“It has been a privilege and honor to serve with all members of the NPHC council,” said Dr. Damion Robinson, a graduate of Howard University and a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. “As a way to continue our mission to innovate and advance our communities—we are the culture.”

The combined force of scholarship, and service has ignited international and political awareness, and public service to develop high cultural, intellectual, and moral standards amongst their members and throughout their communities.

Enhancing and promoting justice, equal rights, and service to their communities, The NPHC is a dynamic group of community service-driven organizations that focuses on high scholastic achievement, philanthropy, and objectives that address and aim to correct the racial inequality, reparations, unemployment rates, and health care issues that plague the African American communities. The NPHC strives to enhance the quality of life and social action for the African American communities. 

The purpose of the NPHC is to foster cooperative actions of its members in dealing with matters of mutual concern within urban communities all across the world. Members of the Divine Nine look forward to another century of excellence.

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