Are you a brother or sister of a black Greek organization, or thinking about joining one at your HBCU? There are a number of black Greek societies that all have their own missions. Here is an overview of HBCU Greek societies that might help shed some light on who they are and what they represent.
There is a total of nine BGLOs, or Black Greek-Letter Organizations. These have been nicknamed the "Divine Nine," and have been formally incorporated as perpetual bodies chartered under The National Pan-Hellenic Council. In 1930, The National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) formed on Howard University's campus. NPHC holds forums, meetings, and other initiatives to both aid organization interaction and gather information. Of the nine, five were established at Howard, and five are fraternities.
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated
Omega Psi Phi was founded November 17th, 1911 at Howard University. Three years later, it was incorporated. Omega was the first international fraternal organization founded on a black campus. "Friendship is essential to the soul" is their motto, and their cardinal principles are "Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance, and Uplift." Their official colors are purple and gold, and their official flower is the African Violet. Notable members are Langston Hughes, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, and Charles Drew.
Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated
Kappa Alpha Psi was originally begun as Kappa Alpha Nu in 1911 at Indiana University, but founders ultimately decided to make the switch to Psi after acronym confusion and racial slurs. Incorporated in 1911, Kappa is focused on promoting "the spiritual, social, intellectual, and moral welfare of members." Their official colors are crimson and cream, and their official symbol is the Kappa Diamond. A few noteworthy Kappa Alpha Psi brothers are Colin Kaepernick, Johnnie Cochran, and Kwame Jackson.
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated
Founded in December of 1906 at Cornell University, Alpha Phi Alpha exists as the first black intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity. This black Greek organization strives to "stimulate the ambition of its members; to prepare them for the greatest usefulness in the cause of humanity, freedom, and dignity of the individual." Alpha ultimately works to "encourage the highest and noblest form of manhood." Their official colors are black and old gold, and the sphinx is their official symbol. W.E.B. DuBois, Duke Ellington, Barry Jenkins, and Frank Gatson, Jr. are only a few of Alpha's great members.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated
Alpha Kappa Alpha was founded in 1908 ay Howard University, making it the first Greek-letter organization established by black women. The organization was incorporated in 1913. Alpha Kappa Alpha's creed is "To be supreme in service to all mankind." Their official colors are salmon pink and apple green, and the ivy leaf is their official symbol. There are many AKAs, some of which are Maya Angelou, Ella Fitzgerald, Star Jones, and Jada Pinkett-Smith.
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated
In 1913, Delta Sigma Theta became the newest sorority on Howard's campus. This black Greek organization wasn't incorporated until 1930! Delta Sigma Theta is "Committed to the constructive development of its member and to public service with a primary focus on the Black community." Crimson and cream (or red and white) act as their official colors, and, like Omega Psi Psi, they too have the African Violet as their official flower. Powerful women have been members of this organization, like Tina Allen, Selma Burke, Alexa Canady and Brigadier General Hazel Johnson Brown.
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated
Phi Beta Sigma began at Howard in 1914, and it too wasn't incorporated until 1930. Phi Beta Sigma's principles are "Brotherhood, Scholarship [and] Service." Their motto is "Culture for Service, and Service for Humanity." The dove is Phi Beta Sigma's symbol, and royal blue and pure white are their official colors. If you joined this black Greek society, you'd be in a brotherhood with the likes of James Weldon Johnson, Huey P. Newton, Emmitt Smith and Hines Ward.
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated
Founded at Howard in 1920, Zeta Phi Beta is the sister of Phi Beta Sigma. It became incorporated in 1923. Zeta Phi Beta "foster[s] ideas of scholarship, service, sisterhood, and finer womanhood." Their official colors are royal blue and pure white, and their symbol is a dove. Zora Neale Hurston, Gwendolyn Brooks and Towanda Braxton are all members of this sisterhood.
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated
Butler University was where this organization got its start in 1922. Sigma Gamma Rho was incorporated in 1929. Their motto is "Greater Service, Greater Progress," and their hallmarks are public service, leadership development, and education of youth. Royal blue and gold are their official colors, and the Yellow Tea Rose acts as their official flower. Kelly Price, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Jedda Jones, and Robin L. Kelly are among the vast number of Sigma Gamma Rho sisters.
Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Incorporated
Iota Phi Theta is the young gun of the "Divine Nine," having come about in 1963 at Morgan State University. The brothers of this fraternity focus on "the development and perpetuation of Scholarship, Leadership, Citizenship, and Brotherhood among Men." Iota Phi Theta's mission since the beginning has been this— "Building a Tradition, Not Resting Upon One!" They sport charcoal brown and gilded gold as their official colors. A centaur is Iota's symbol. Men such as Terrance C. Carson and Kendrick Jevon Dean are brothers of this organization.