Briana Simmons, The Black Bear
The validity of Greek Life has come into question in recent years. More specifically, the validity of the National PanHellenic Council which is comprised of nine predominantly fraternities and sororities. Many scholars think this dialogue foreshadows the end of Greek Life as we know it.
As a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., I affirm that every organization within NPHC belongs on every campus.
From the founding of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. in 1906 to the final addition to the Divine Nine by Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc. in 1963, black Greek letter organizations (BGLOs) have played a undeniably vital role in the development of the black community.
Perhaps to grasp a better understanding of the impact BGLOs have had on our community we should ask ourselves “What would the black community look like without the Divine Nine?” Let’s take a minute to acknowledge some accomplishments of NPHC.
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (1906) Project Alpha provides education, motivation, and skill-building on issues of relationships, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases for young males ages 12-15 years.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (1908) Think HBCU and AKA 1908 Playground Project or
Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. (1911) Diamonds in the Rough promotes the academic, social and service based achievements of young men of color to counteract stereotypes and prepares the young men for the next phases of their lives with college preparatory and scholarship access programs.
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. (1911) Talent Hunt gives exposure, encouragement and financial assistance to talented young people participating in performing arts.
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (1913) Dr. Betty Shabazz Delta Academy works to develop young ladies ages 11-14 in academic scholarship in public schools and Delta GEMS is a continuation of the Academy for girls ages 14-18.
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. (1914) Living Well- Brother to Brother is a men’s health initiative to educate and inform the community about key health issues facing men of color.
Zeta Phi Beta Fraternity, Inc. (1920) Stork’s Nest is a partnership with March of Dimes to provide prenatal, health promotion program for low-income pregnant women.
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. (1922) Operation BigBookBag provides schools and other facilities with book bags and school supplies. Some chapters may offer tutoring and mentoring to young women and men in the community.
Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. (1963) Iota Minority Political Mobilization seeking to make minorities aware of their role within the political process.
That list is merely a fragment of a multitude of accomplishments by BGLOs and their respective members. Think about Dorothy Irene Height, Huey P. Newton, Scott Stuart, and Carter G. Woodson, who all have a couple things in common: Their resumes overflow with achievements positively impacting the black community and they did so as a representation of a BGLO.
But, as if that wasn’t enough to solidify the greatness of our organizations, perhaps we could also ask ourselves “What would Greek Life look like without the Divine Nine?” Many other councils such as PHA, IFC, and NMGC have tried to adopt cultural traditions from BGLO such as strolling, stepping, and line jackets. Over the course of 100+ years, we’ve molded Greek Life as we know it.
The Divine Nine influences the culture and climate of the black experience at a college institution.
The validity attack on BGLOs calls to question what has the Divine Nine done to positively impact the black community or heighten the cultural climate of the black experience at a college institution recently? This does not go without saying that our organizations are facing problems, but let’s not be so quick to omit them. I think we should embrace the challenge. Embrace the challenge to better ourselves as respective members of our organizations, challenge our organizations to unapologetically return to the purposes of their founding as our situations have not changed drastically, and reestablish the values upon which we were founded.