Off The Yard: Shining Light On Black Sororities & Fraternities [Video]


The history of black greek organizations, also known as the Divine 9, dates back to the early 20th century on the basis of exclusion. This was during a time when segregation and race riots were most prevalent. These organizations were created to give black people a safe haven and a safe space that thrived on principles of service, scholarship, community, and the betterment of African American people.

Alpha Phi Alpha (Alphas) was the first fraternity, founded as a study and support group on Howard's campus in 1906 at Cornell University. Following the Alpha's was Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA), the first female sorority founded on Howard University's campus in 1908. The other seven divine 9 fraternities and sororities eventually followed suit.

In 1911 Omega Psi Phi (Omegas) and Kappa Alpha Psi (Kappas) were founded. In 1913, Delta Sigma Theta (Deltas) was founded. In 1914 Phi Beta Sigma (Sigmas) was founded. In 1920 Zeta Phi Beta (Zetas) was founded, followed by  Sigma Gamma Rho (SgRho) in 1922. Finally, in 1963 Iota Phi Theta (Iotas) was founded. As blacks fought for a place in society and in institutions, sororities and fraternities became a place for black college students to come together in fellowship and service.

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Today, hundreds of scholars have greek letters behind their names continuing the legacy of the distinguished D9. Some include celebrities and civil rights activists such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who served as an Alpha. Actors like Phylicia Rashad and Steve Harvey were also a part of the D9 family, serving as an AKA and Omega. Over the years, the importance of joining a D9 became more than a brotherhood/ sisterhood, community service, or "being on the yard," it became a networking opportunity for young adults into their journies of becoming black professionals.

Baller Alert caught up with D9 members who shared their experiences. 

Why was it important for you to join a fraternity, specifically Kappa Alpha Psi? 

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Tyler (Kappa): "Because of my father. My father is a 1977 Fall pledgee of the Alpha Xi chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi at Florida A&M University. Growing up we would go to homecoming games, my brother and I- we were just emerged in the experience of what an HBCU is, especially during homecoming season. I remember as a kid watching him and being so excited because I got to see him in a way I hadn't seen him before. He's a stern, strict person, but I got to see his caring side and fun side." 

How has your fraternity shaped the HBCU experience?

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Tevin King (Iota): "Being the most recent fraternity within the D9, I think we have shaped the HBCU experience as a whole and in a more advanced way than many other fraternities and sororities being that we are a non-traditional fraternity. Meaning we were made of 12 men who were all non traditional college students at the time, all between the ages of 23 and 30. Some had families and some were already 3 - 4 years in the military. It allowed students to look at us and see something different and expand their creativity."

What opportunities have been opened for you since becoming an AKA?


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Mel Mitchell (AKA): "Every single job that I have ever had out of college, was because of an AKA. My first [internship] was from an AKA, my first real job was from an AKA, when I decided to switch career paths, an AKA helped me with that. Literally every step of the way, AKA is helping me."

How does the Omega's mission and values align with who you are as a person and professional?

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Kyle (Omega): "Our cardinal principles are manhood, scholarship, perseverance and uplift. Teaching me the right tools to walk into every room as a man. Being confident in myself . 2, scholarship. Making sure that even though I'm having fun and enjoying life, education is also important. I was able to graduate in 4 years by knowing how to balance my school life and my academics. Perseverance, persevering through anything. You gotta see things through. Also uplift. My platform is always lifting as I climb. I would be doing myself a disservice if I'm not trying to lift up the next man."

What was your experience like attending an HBCU? 

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Dee Holt (Alpha): "My HBCU experience was literally everything.  I was in SGA, I crossed (Alpha), I was super active on campus. When it comes to an HBCU, you can't beat it. It's a vibe like no other. You gain friendships that last forever. It's a big, fun, party with a bunch of educated people enjoying themselves."

Why is sisterhood/ brotherhood important?

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Dennis Jackson (Sigma): "Brotherhood is very important to me. Just having someone to lean on at a time when things get tough or you just need that brotherly love or that understanding of someone just being by your side. Being on a line of six, having those different individuals that I met and didn't know at all at first but as we went through our process we got very close. That was very important to me."

What are some stereotypes surrounding sororities and fraternities?

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Jessica Brownlee (Zeta): "One of the stereotypes that people assume about fraternities and sororities, that I think is far from the truth is that we're in a cult, in the Illuminati. My theory is that whole idea has to come from what people are used to, which is seeing black people go against each other. Because that's the norm. So then you see this group of people that typically when you see them they're standing together, pulling each other up. Networking is so important, but I know a lot of people who find it baffling that 'I got a job based off this title or this organization that I'm attached to.' It's so easy for them to connect the dots and say this isn't right, when in all reality that's what's right and how black people operate is what's wrong."

The post Off The Yard: Shining Light On Black Sororities & Fraternities [Video] appeared first on Baller Alert.


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