African American Sororities and Fraternities

Mackenzie Wallace


Out of the first nine African-American Greek letter organizations founded, there are six here at Kent State University. These six help make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council, commonly referred to as the “Divine Nine.”

The National Pan-Hellenic Council consists of the African-American Greek letter organizations that have a combined total of 5,500 chapters worldwide. These Greek organizations on campus, Alpha Phi Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Iota Phi Theta, Phi Beta Sigma, Sigma Gamma Rho and Zeta Phi Beta, have many accomplished, nationally recognized members with contributions to politics, the arts, education, sports, business and philanthropy.

Alpha Phi Alpha

Seven undergraduate students at Cornell University organized Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate fraternity among African men, on Dec. 4, 1906, according to the national website, Alpha Phi Alpha dedicated itself to defend the rights and to promote the responsibilities of blacks. The founders sought to combine social purposes with social action. Alpha Phi Alpha has also promoted knowledge and achievement.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha.

Members and alumni do community programs, mentoring, partnerships with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boy Scouts of America and the March of Dimes. They also participate in community activist programs focused on education, community outreach and development, leadership development and educating the community on its voting rights.

Kent’s Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha was chartered Jan. 22, 1958.

Delta Sigma Theta

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was founded Jan. 13, 1912 at Howard University by 22 collegiate women. These women set the foundation for what is now one of the largest black women’s organizations in the world, according to the sorority’s chapter website, These women promoted academic excellence and provided assistance for people in need. They participated in the Women’s Suffrage March in Washington D.C. as their first public act.

Nine women chartered the Kent State Epsilon Mu chapter of Delta Sigma Theta on May 13, 1963.

The three principles of the organization are scholarship, service and sisterhood. Members focus on educational development, economic development, physical and mental health, political awareness and involvement, and international awareness and involvement.

Zeta Phi Beta

Five women founded the Zeta Phi Beta sorority on Jan. 16, 1920 at Howard University. The sorority’s four principles include scholarship, service, sisterly love and finer womanhood. Zeta Phi Beta is the only sorority to be constitutionally bound to a fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma.

Fifteen women chartered Zeta Phi Beta at Kent State on June 5, 1971. After being inactive for four years, the sorority was brought back to campus by eight women in the fall of 2011.

Phi Beta Sigma

Three black male students founded Phi Beta Sigma at Howard University on Jan. 9, 1914. The organization was created to exist as a part of an even greater brotherhood, according to, the fraternity’s national website. The founders believed members should be judged by their own merits and not by family background, race, nationality, skin tone or hair texture. This organization works to deliver services to the community.

Kent’s Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma was chartered Nov. 12, 1971.

Iota Phi Theta

Twelve students at Morgan State College founded Iota Phi Theta on Sept. 19, 1963. It is now the nation’s fifth largest predominately black social service fraternity, according to

At Kent State, this fraternity goes by the Kent State colony of Iota Phi Theta or Kent State chapter of Iota Phi Theta, but they have no letters yet.

The charter line brothers came in May 3, 2010, and they will be getting their chapter letters soon, Lorenza Stevens Jr., senior communications studies major and President of Iota Phi Theta wrote in an email.

Sigma Gamma Rho

Seven educators at Butler University established Sigma Gamma on Nov. 12, 1922. This sorority has become an international service organization comprised of women from every profession. According to, these women are dedicated to helping each other as well as serving the community.

Sigma Gamma Rho was chartered at Kent State May 19, 1973.

Contact Mackenzie Wallace at [email protected].