So this week is homecoming. We are also celebrating National Pan-Hellenic Council Week. In honor of that I would like to share with my readers, particularly those that may not have spent time learning Fraternity & Sorority Life history, a short history of NPHC and its members.
NPHC was established in 1930 at Howard University, 28 years after the National Panhellenic Conference (1902) who all campus Panhellenic Sororities are connected under, and 21 years after the North-American Interfraternity Conference (1909) who works to benefit IFC groups on college campuses. Founding members included Alpha Kappa Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Delta Sigma Theta, and Zeta Phi Beta. Alpha Phi Alpha and Phi Beta Sigma would join in 1931 and Sigma Gamma Rho in 1937. The youngest member of NPHC would join 60 years later in 1997 when Iota Phi Theta was officially recognized as a member. These organizations are at times referred to as the “Divine Nine” and have roots as African-American fraternities and sororities.
The oldest collegiate fraternity for Black individuals is Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity which was founded in 1906 at Cornell University. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority came next, founded at Howard University in 1908. Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity was founded in 1911 at Indiana University Bloomington. Omega Psi Phi Fraternity was founded in 1911 at Howard University. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority was then founded at Howard University in 1913. Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity was founded at Howard University in 1914. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority was founded in 1920 at Howard University. Phi Beta Sigma and Zeta Phi Beta are the only two of these organizations that are constitutionally bound to one another. In 1922, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority was founded at Butler University. The youngest member of NPHC, Iota Phi Theta, was founded in 1963 at Morgan State University.
There are a few reasons these organizations are important. In the scope of the nation, consider the leaders these organizations count among their membership. When viewing this from a community engagement of service perspective, these groups support national programs that have fought discrimination, have helped in areas such as education, and so much more. If you prefer to view their contributions to the Fraternity and Sorority Life community, most modern things that IFC fraternities and NPC Sororities engage in, including things like wearing letters, handsigns, and even shifting away from a pledging process like Sigma Alpha Epsilon have done were all pioneered by NPHC.
Now I am not by any means an expert, just an honored participant in advising this group of amazing students with such a storied history.