Last month we talked about three of the five fraternities that are a part of the Divine 9 in our introductory post to our new campaign #KnowYourHeritage. You can read it here. This week we want to continue the conversation about Black Fraternities and their importance in the African American community with a little background history of the final two fraternities in the Divine 9, Phi Beta Sigma and Iota Phi Theta.
Phi Beta Sigma
Also known as, “A brotherhood of conscious men actively serving our communities,” was established in 1914 at Howard University by A. Langston Taylor, Leonard F. Morse, and Charles I. Brown. The three men came together to create a group that exemplifies the ideals of brotherhood, scholarship, and service. Unlike many other Greek organizations at the time, Phi Beta Sigma founders strived for the organization to view itself as “part of” the general community rather than “apart from.” With over 185,000 members initiated since 1914, the international organization has awarded $2.5 million in scholarships to students. Through its four main programs: Bigger and Better Business, Education, Social Action, and Sigma Beta Clubs, members of the fraternity commit to 123,000 service hours annually and mentor 1,500 young men every year.
A few famous Phi Beta Sigma members:
Iota Phi Theta
On September 19, 1963, the youngest of the five fraternities a part of the Divine 9 was founded by 12 students at Morgan State University: Albert Hicks, Lonnie Spruill, Jr., Charles Briscoe, Frank Coakley, John Slade, Barron Willis, Webster Lewis, Charles Brown, Louis Hudnell, Charles Gregory, Elias Dorsey, Jr., and Michael Williams. The twelve founders established the fraternity’s purpose, “The development and perpetuation of scholarship, leadership, citizenship, fidelity, and brotherhood among men,” during one of the most turbulent times in African-American History, the Civil Rights Movement. Just one month before its foundation, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic, “I Have a Dream” speech. To date, Iota Phi Theta has 263 chapters around the world and has initiated over 30,000 members. It’s national service initiatives include The National Iota Foundation, The I.O.T.A. Youth Alliance, and The INROADS Partnership. Through its many other partnerships in the community, the organization continues to “build a tradition, not rest upon one.”
A few famous Iota Phi Theta members:
Terrance C. Carson
Kendrick Jevon Dean
Desi Arnez Hines II
We started the #KnowYourHeritage campaign highlighting the fraternities of the Divine 9 because there aren’t enough outlets showcasing positive, African-American male organizations. Unfortunately, many people solely associate African-American frats with partying and stepping, ignoring their reputation for service. At Fresh Heritage, we agree with those who believe that black fraternities aid as a training ground for many of the world's top African-American leaders. During our research, we found many different opinions on the necessity of black fraternities and the good they do. But as we addressed in last month’s post, Black Fraternities: It’s More Than Just Stepping, unless you know your heritage it is easy to fall victim to false information about your own people. As we continue our campaign to highlight our heritage, we invite you to share your beliefs and feedback on the topics we discuss.
Speaking of heritage and history, did you know Fresh Heritage was created after two brothers took a life-changing trip to North Africa? Fresh Heritage has been helping men look and feel better by creating products that are inspired by the ancient traditions of our ancestors.
Read more about our story here (pics and videos included)!