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Today, I want to talk to you about African American Greek Sororities. As asserted by Ross (2000), traditions and sororities are fundamental elements of modern society especially (165). Whether these organizations are used for shows before a large crowd, to conduct projects within cities and other urban settings, to support members within community settings and educational institutions of higher learning or fellowshipping over drinks, black Greek sororities aim at enhancing bonds that extend to more than friendship (Ross 166).
The principles and ideals that these organizations aim for in the development of brotherhood and sisterhood relationships that last a lifetime. This speech will thus focus on African American Greek Sororities in modern society. It will expound on the history, famous names and leaders that have been sorority members, and the impact these organizations have in society.
History of African American Sororities
The National Pan-Hellenic Council is a national organization that comprises nine African American Greek sororities and fraternities. The members of this organization are usually referred to as the ‘Divine 9’ and include:
- Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. (AKA)
- Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. (AΦA)
- Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity (KAΨ)
- Delta Sigma Theta Sorority (ΔΣΘ)
- Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. (ΩΨΦ)
- Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity (ΦBΣ)
- Zeta Phi Beta Sorority (ZΦB)
- Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority (ΣΓΡ)
- Iota Phi Theta Fraternity (ΙΦΘ)
Most of the member organizations were established during the 1900s. They have a strong African American affiliation especially given the fact that they mainly originated from African American colleges and universities that were existent in the 20th century (Giddings 24).
Most of these sororities began their operation as civic movements. At the institutional level, African American Greek Sororities were encouraged due to the role that they played in the academic and political development within these institutions. It is due to this fact that African American Greek Sororities were considered as embodiments for African American students (Whipple 144). As a result, these organizations played a critical role especially with regards to the contributions that they had to the overall growth and development of institutions of higher learning.
Most of the ‘Divine 9’ members are existent up to the present day and age. These organizations have been able to cope with changes that come about with time resulting in their expansion to hundreds of chapters all around the United States. These organizations still have a strong presence in colleges especially during the orientation week of freshmen. Additionally, their presence can be felt during events such as founding anniversaries and homecoming. Given their impact, these organizations play a critical role in shaping the ideology, culture, and values of group members.
Famous Members of the ‘Divine 9’
There are many members of African American Greek Sororities that have ended up being influential individuals within American society. John Lewis, a member of Phi Beta Sigma ended up being a congressman of the 5th district of Georgia. Lewis is a civil rights activist and the only living member of the ‘Big Six’ African-American Civil Rights Movement (Sergent 256). Thus, it is evident that the exposure and influence that he gathered from being a member of the Phi Beta Sigma played a critical role in shaping his career as well as his approach towards life.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is perhaps the most famous civil rights movement figure. He played a significant role in fighting for equality and bringing to an end racial discrimination during the 1950s and 1960s (Sergent 257). At this point, it is critical to mention that Dr. King was a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. Being an active member of the fraternity, Dr. King started to put his leadership skills to play. This was critical and played an important role in making him become a huge figure during the civil rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s.
Jesse Jackson, a fellow human rights activist was also a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. His participation in the human rights movement and the politics of the United States of America has ensured that African Americans enjoy their rights and equal representation before the state and the federal government.
Impact of African American Greek Sororities
Black Greek Sororities play a significant role in American society. These organizations play a critical role in representation to African American students in institutions of higher learning in the United States. It is through these organizations that these students discover themselves, develop their personalities, and build lifelong relationships with fellow members. Additionally, these organizations have also played a critical role in fighting for the rights of African Americans in the United States. Most of the civil rights movements as well as African American political figures have been members of these organizations and have played a critical role in ensuring that the rights of African Americans are respected and that members of the community enjoy equal representation at the state and national level.
African American Greek Sororities have developed to be an integral part of African American society. Starting as a student organization in African American colleges and universities in the 20th century, these organizations have played a significant role in developing the personality and career of many African Americans as well as fighting for their rights. Therefore, their existence should be cherished given the positive impact they have on society. Thank you.
Giddings, Paula. In Search of Sisterhood: Delta Sigma Theta and the Challenge of the Black Sorority Movement, New York: William Morrow and Company, 1988. Print.
Ross, Lawrence. The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities, New York: Kensington Publishing, 2000. Print.
Sergent, Michael. “Volunteer motivations across student organizations: A test of person—environment fit theory.” Journal of College Student Development 31.1 (2000): 255-261. Print.
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Whipple, Edgar. “A comparison of Black and White Greeks at a predominantly White university.” NASPA Journal 28.1 (2001): 140-148. Print.