Black Greek-letter sororities and fraternities have been a pivotal part of African American history and culture since the early 20th century. Launched on the campuses of historically black colleges, these organizations have been a central resource for support and service in the educational advancement and strengthening of social bonds among black students, entrepreneurs and professionals, especially when the organizations expanded to majority white institutions of higher learning. Also, they were a way to combat racism, as many campus organization memberships were exclusionary to students and professionals of color.
The pioneer Black Greek-letter organizations have become known as the Divine Nine, and among their ranks have been some of the most influential leaders of color in healthcare, fashion, business, global affairs, politics and more.
The National Pan-Hellenic Council Inc. (NPHC), formed on the campus of Howard University on May 10, 1930, is a collective of the nine pioneering black Greek-letter organizations: Alpha Phi Alpha is the oldest fraternity, founded in 1906, followed by Kappa Alpha Psi and Omega Psi Phi in 1911, Phi Beta Sigma in 1914 and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity in 1963. Alpha Kappa Alpha is the oldest sorority, founded in 1908, followed by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority in 1913, Zeta Phi Beta in 1920 and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. in 1922.
Since these nine were started and incorporated, membership has spread globally, with chapters in Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. Their impact is also widespread professionally and financially, as they have contributed millions to uplift communities, send students to college via scholarships and support professionals in both corporate America and entrepreneurship via mentorship and sponsorship.
Cotton Blocks proudly features several members of the Divnie 9 who have made immeasurable contributions to the proud legacy of Black Americans.