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The Divine 9 and beyond: black fraternities and social groups

Updated on January 21, 2015

Black Fraternity Experience

The beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold."- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Fraternity membership is an integral part of the collegiate experience. It provides the member with an enriched social experience that will carry on past the college years and benefit them for the rest of their lives. It is no coincidence that the great men in history have been members of collegiate social groups because they are an important part of the American social fabric where we identify our most talented and develop them into greatness.

Every ethnic community has developed these groups and the African American community is no exception. These collegiate social groups are some of the most accomplished organizations in the African American community. More recently though there has been some question about their relevance.

African American Fraternities and Sororities: The Legacy and the Vision

African American Fraternities and Sororities: The Legacy and the Vision
African American Fraternities and Sororities: The Legacy and the Vision

"The honorable and courageous history of the black Greek-letter organizations has often been overlooked and obscured by social jealousy and faulty information. And maybe even faulty expectations. Yet these 'divine nine' have shaped not only the history of African Americans but the history of America. The brothers and sisters who have pledged their best to each other and to their times have always risen to the occasion. Their good names, their fortunes, and their lives have been risked to uplift the downtrodden and gentle the arrogant. African American Fraternities and Sororities: The Legacy and the Vision is an important look at the glorious contributions they have made." --Nikki Giovanni, (Delta Sigma Theta Sorority), University Distinguished Professor and Professor of English, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Alpha Phi Alpha

Alpha Phi Alpha
Alpha Phi Alpha

Alpha Phi Alpha

Alpha Phi Alpha

Founded December 4 1907 at Cornell University

Founders: Henry A. Callis, Charles Henry Chapman, Eugene K. Jones, George Biddle Kelley, Nathaniel Allison Murray, Robert H. Ogle, Vertner Woodson Tandy

Motto: First of all, servants of all, we shall transcend all

Colors: Black and Old Gold

Famous Members: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Paul Robeson, Justice Thurgood Marshall, Dr. W.E.B Du Bois, Countee Cullen, Kelly Miller, Dr. John Hope Franklin, Dr. Cornel West, Duke Ellington


Kappa Alpha Psi

Kappa Alpha Psi
Kappa Alpha Psi

Kappa Alpha Psi

Kappa Alpha Psi

Founded January 5 1911 Indiana University Bloomington

Founders: Elder Watson Diggs Dr. Ezra D. Alexander, Dr. Byron Kenneth Armstrong, Atty. Henry Tourner Asher, Dr. Marcus Peter Blakemore, Paul Waymond Caine, George Wesley Edmonds, Dr. Guy Levis Grant, Edward Giles Irvin, Sgt. John Milton Lee

Motto: Achievement in every field of Human Endeavor

Colors: Crimson and Cream

Famous Members: Cedric The Entertainer, Tavis Smiley, Robert L. Johnson, Reginald Lewis, Vernon Jones, John Conyers, William Clay Jr., Johnnie Cochran, Dr. Calvin O. Butts, Bishop Eddie Long, Bernard A.Harris Jr., Samuel P. Massie, J. Ernest Wilkins Jr., Wilt Chamberlain, Colin Kaepernick, Mike Tomlin, Arthur Ashe


Omega Psi Phi

Omega Psi Phi
Omega Psi Phi

Omega Psi Phi

Omega Psi Phi

Founded: November 17 1911 Howard University

Founders: Dr. Ernest E. Just, Professor Frank Coleman, Dr. Oscar J. Cooper, Bishop Edgar Love

Motto: Friendship is essential to the soul

Colors: Royal purple and old Gold

Famous Members: Bill Cosby, Steve Harvey, Terrance J, Tom Joyner, Rickey Smiley, Ronald Mcnair, Jesse Jackson, Vernon Jordan, Charles Drew, Percy Julian, Vince Carter, Steve McNair, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O`Neal, Alono Mourning, Ernest Everett Just, David Satcher


Phi Beta Sigma

Phi Beta Sigma
Phi Beta Sigma

Phi Beta Sigma

Phi Beta Sigma

Founded: January 9 1914 Howard University

Founders: A. Langston Taylor, Leonard F. Morse, Charles I. Brown

Motto: Culture for service service for humanity

Colors: Royal blue and Pure white

Famous members: Dr. George Washington Carver, James Weldon Johnson, Alain Leroy Locke, Kwame Nkrumah, William Tolbert, Bill Clinton, Joe Dudley, Harry Belafonte, Jerry Rice, Ryan Howard, Charlie Strong, Lou Brock, Richard Sherman


Wine Psi Phi

Wine Psi Phi
Wine Psi Phi

Wine Psi Phi

Wine Psi Phi

Founded: March 2 1959 Howard University

Founders: Roy Brown, John Mason and Allen Cherry

Motto: We initiate new experiences

Colors: Burgundy and White

Famous Members: Robert Etheridge, Richard A Gowins,


Groove Phi Groove

Groove Phi Groove
Groove Phi Groove

Groove Phi Groove

Groove Phi Groove

Founded: October 12 1962 Morgan State University

Founders: Glen Brown, Raymond Clark, John Conquest, Walter Goodwin, Barry Hampton, James Hill, Charlie Johnson, Nathaniel Monroe, David Nesbit, Nathaniel Parham, Harry Payne, Barry Simms, Robert Simpson, Woodrow Williams

Motto: Through loyalty and integrity we shall achieve greatness

Colors: black and white

Famous Members: G.K. Butterfield, Donnie Shell, Richard Huntley, Earl the pearl Monroe, Sylvester Junkyard Dog Ritter, Chet Grimsley, John Canada Terrell


Iota Phi Theta

Iota Phi Theta

Founded: September 19, 1963 Morgan State University

Founders: Albert Hicks, Lonnie Spruill, Jr., Charles Briscoe, Frank Coakley, John Slade, Barron Willis, Webster Lewis, Charles Brown, Louis Hudnell, Charles Gregory, Elias Dorsey, Jr. and Michael Williams

Motto: Building a tradition not resting upon one

Colors: Charcoal brown and gilded gold

Famous Members: Bobby Rush, Tommie Frazier, Terrance Carson, Spencer Christian, Desi Arnez Hines ll



Which historically black fraternity/social group would you join or are you a member of?

See results

National Pan-Hellenic Council Divine 9

Groove Phi Groove

The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities

The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities
The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities

Ross notes the substantial variation on the specific circumstances behind the formation of black fraternities and sororities. The underlying theme in all cases was camaraderie with a special emphasis on providing support to minorities in hostile environments, whether on campus or the broader racial environment of the U.S. Ross profiles several members of black fraternities and sororities, many of them prominent, and notes the contributions the groups have made to black leadership in the U.S. Vernon Ford



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    • dashingscorpio profile image


      3 years ago

      I understand Bill Clinton is a (Honorary Member) in Phi Beta Sigma.

      FYI- The Divine 9 does not consider (Wine Psi Phi and Groove Phi Groove) to be on their same level.

      They're not part of the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

      I pledged Kappa Alpha Psi at the Alpha Chapter in Bloomington, IN during the late 70s. The Divine 9 used to make fun of the other black fraternities and sororities that weren't in the "Divine 9" :)

      Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Founded 1906, Cornell University

      •Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Founded 1908, Howard University

      •Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Founded 1911, Indiana University

      •Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Founded 1911, Howard University

      •Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Founded 1913, Howard University

      •Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Founded 1914, Howard University

      •Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Founded 1920, Howard University

      •Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Founded 1922, Butler University

      •Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Founded 1963, Morgan State University


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