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Black History: The Divine Nine

Black Greek life, sororities, and fraternities have been a significant part of African American history.

These historic organizations first started at HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities.

These organizations have been an essential tool for support and service in the educational progression and establishing social bonds among black students, businesspeople, and professionals, significantly when the organizations extended to majority-white schools of higher learning. They also held a way to fight racism, as many campus organization memberships were exclusionary to students and professionals of color.

The pioneer black Greek organizations have become known as the Divine Nine. Among their likes have been some of the most prominent leaders of color in healthcare, style, business, global affairs, politics, and more.

Among the ranks of black organizations are W.E.B. DuBois, Martin Luther King Jr., Hill Harper, Robert Johnson, and hundreds of thousands more. And the sororities hold an impressive roster of sorors, from First Lady Michelle Obama, Shirley Chisholm, and Loretta Lynch to Nikki Giovanni, Soledad O'BrienO'Brien, to MC Lyte.

The National Pan-Hellenic Council Inc. (NPHC), formed on the campus of the prestigious Howard University on May 10, 1930, is a collection of the nine pioneering black Greek-letter organizations: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, ., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority., Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.

Alpha Phi Alpha is the oldest fraternity, organized in 1906, supported by Kappa Alpha Psi and Omega Psi Phi in 1911, Phi Beta Sigma in 1914, and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity in 1963. Among the sororities, Alpha Kappa Alpha was the oldest organization, established in 1908, followed by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority in 1913. Zeta Phi Beta in 1920 Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. in 1922.

Since the Divine Nine have been established and united, other black Greek-letter organizations have followed. Though the newer organizations are not officially part of the Pan-Hellenic Council, they have been vital in promoting service, knowledge, and fellowship among students and professionals of color worldwide.