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The Divine 9 and beyond: black sororities and social groups

Updated on January 28, 2015


“I don’t believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work” –Maya Angelou

Alpha Delta Pi the very first sorority was founded May 15 1851 at Wesleyan College. Due to slavery and segregation It would be years before African American women would be allowed to participate in these organizations. Even with today’s more liberal views on race African American women make up a very small part of the traditional white sorority.

Increased collegiate ambitions of African American women in the 20th century lead to the development of the first sororities for African American women. The first of these organizations was Alpha Kappa Alpha on January 15 1908 at Howard University. Other organizations soon followed. In 1930 the young group of African American fraternities and sororities banded together to found the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

African American women’s collegiate social groups are known for their dedication to service and their activity in the community. Some the greatest names in black history count themselves among members. These organizations are a catalyst for excellence among black women.

Alpha Kappa Alpha
Alpha Kappa Alpha

Alpha Kappa Alpha

Alpha Kappa Alpha

Founded January 15 1908 at Howard University

Founders: Anna Easter Brown, Beulah Elizabeth Burke, Lillie Burke, Marjorie Hill, Margaret Flagg Holmes, Ethel Hedgeman-Lyle, Lavinia Norman, Lucy Diggs Slowe, Marie Woolfolk-Taylor, Norma Boyd, Ethel Jones Mowbray, Alice Murray, Sarah Meriweather Nutter, Joanna Berry Shields, Carrie Snowden and Harriet Terry

Motto: By merit and by culture

Colors: Salmon pink and apple green

Famous members: Toni Morrison, Star Jones, Wanda Sykes, Bernice King, Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, Cathy Hughes, Mae Jemison, Constance Baker Motley, Leah Ward Sears, Eleanor Roosevelt, Hazel O`Leary, Azie Taylor Morton, Alma Adams, Eva M Clayton, Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Althea Gibson, Phylicia Rashad, Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Ella Fitzgerald


Delta Sigma Theta
Delta Sigma Theta

Delta Sigma Theta

Delta Sigma Theta

Founded January 13 1913

Founders: Winona Cargile Alexander, Madree Penn White, Wertie Blackwell Weaver,
Vashti Turley Murphy, Ethel Cuff Black, Frederica Chase Dodd, Osceola Macarthy Adams, Pauline Oberdorfer Minor, Edna Brown Coleman, Edith Motte Young, Marguerite Young Alexander, Naomi Sewell Richardson, Eliza P. Shippen, Zephyr Chisom Carter, Myra Davis Hemmings, Mamie Reddy Rose, Bertha Pitts Campbell,
Florence Letcher Toms, Olive Jones, Jessie McGuire Dent, Jimmie Bugg Middleton, Ethel Carr Watson

Motto: Intelligence is the torch of wisdom

Colors: crimson and cream

Famous Members: Dorthy Irene Height, Keisha Knight Pulliam, Kym Whitley, Gwendolyn Bennett, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Nikki Giovanni, Shirely Ceaser, Aretha Franklin, K. Michelle, Lena Horne, Fannie Lou Hamer, Mary McLeoud Bethune, Betty Shabazz, Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, Mary Church Terrell, Johnetta Cole, Gloria Randle Scott, Alexis Herman, Lisa P jackson, Shirley Chisolm,


Zeta Phi Beta
Zeta Phi Beta

Zeta Phi Beta

Zeta Phi Beta

Founded January 16 1920 at Howard University

Founders: Arizona Cleaver Stemons, Pearl Anna Neal, Myrtle Tyler Faithful, Viola Tyler Goings, Fannie Pettie Watts

Motto: A community-conscious, action-oriented organization

Colors: Royal blue and white

Famous Members: Zora Neale Hurston, Autherince Lucy Foster, Evelyn J. Fields, Lillian E. Fishburne, Sheryl Underwood, Minnie Riperton, Esther Rolle, Lillie Leatherwood, Wendy Palmer, Janet Du Bois, Towanda Braxton


Sigma Gamma Rho
Sigma Gamma Rho

Sigma Gamma Rho

Sigma Gamma Rho

Founded November 12 1922

Founders: Mary Lou Allison Gardner Little, Dorthy Hanley Whiteside, Vivian Irene White Marbury, Nannie Mae Gahn Johnson, Hattie Mae Dulin Redford, Bessie Mae Downey Rhoades Martin, Cubena McClure

Motto: Greater service greater progress

Colors: Royal blue and gold

Founding Members: Hattie Mcdaniel, MC Lyte, Kelly Price, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Alice Childress, Keisha Coleman


Swing Phi Swing
Swing Phi Swing

Swing Phi Swing

Swing Phi Swing

Founded April 4 1969 Winston-Salem State University

Founders: Finesa Dunovant Walker, Beverly Dorn-Steele, Brenda Travers Satterfield, Jeanette Butler, Ellen Tomilinson Carter, Patricia Story Edwards, Jane Harris Madison, Talma Woods, Lorraine Watkins Phillips, Rosalyn Marshall Tandy, Marlyn Reid Hill, Anita Chase Watson

Motto: Perseverance by virtue

Colors: Black and white


National Pan-Hellenic Council

The National Pan-Hellenic Council or the Divine 9 is a collective of 9 Black fraternities and sororities. The council was established in 1930 with the Mission:

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

Of the social groups mentioned above Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta, and Sigma Gamma Rho are members. The Nation Leadership Conference, St. Jude Hospital, Congressional Black Caucus, and the United Negro College Fund are some of the Organizations The National Pan-Hellenic Council have partnered with.

National Council of Negro Women

The National Council of Negro Women was founded in 1935 by Mary McLeod Bethune with the goal of being the voice of African American women. Each of the social organizations listed above are affiliates of the National Council of Negro Women. The organization has many well known programs including the National Black Family Reunion an event that highlights traditional African American values and highlights the fathers place in it and the Uncommon Height Award an award named after former president of the organization Dr. Dorthy Irene Height and is given to a person who exemplifies the spirit of service and tradition.

Which of these organizations are you a member of or do you wish to join?

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