A beginner’s guide to the NPHC ‘Divine Nine’

A beginner’s guide to the NPHC ‘Divine Nine’

A look at the "divine nine" historically Black Greek letter organizations that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council and who they are in the Triangle.

Above, members of “Divine Nine” National Pan-Hellenic Council Greek organizations pose together on the campus of N.C. State University. (Photo courtesy of the NPHC page on the N.C. State website.)

The National Pan-Hellenic Council is a collaborative organization of nine historically black Greek lettered organizations headquartered in Decatur, Georgia.

The stated purpose of and mission of the NPHC when it was first founded in 1930 was: “Unanimity of thought and action as far as possible in the conduct of Greek letter collegiate fraternities and sororities, and to consider problems of mutual interest to its member organizations.”

The nickname “Divine Nine” to describe the member organizations was first used by author and Alpha Phi Alpha brother Lawrence Ross in his 1997 book, “The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities,” though the council itself has not officially adopted the term.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (AKA)

Founded: January 15, 1908 at Howard University
Colors: Salmon pink and apple green
Symbol:
Ivy leaf
Motto:
By Culture and By Merit
Nickname:
AKAs
College Town undergraduate chapters:
Alpha Chi (NCCU), Iota Mu (Duke), Kappa Omicron (N.C. State), Theta Pi (UNC)
Fun fact: Alpha Kappa Alpha was the first Greek-lettered sorority established and incorporated by African-American college women. A pairing of an AKA and a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha (the first fraternal equivalent) is nicknamed “Phirst Pham.”

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (ΑΦΑ)

Founded: December 4, 1906 at Howard University
Colors: Old gold and black
Symbol:
Great Sphinx of Giza
Motto:
First of All, Servants of All, We Shall Transcend All
Nicknames:
Apes, Ice Cold Brothas, Men of Distinction
College Town undergraduate chapters:
Eta Omicron (N.C. State), Gamma Beta (NCCU), Kappa Omicron (Duke), Mu Zeta (UNC)
Fun fact: Notable members of Alpha Phi Alpha include civil rights legend Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the first black U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and the late ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott (from UNC’s own Mu Zeta chapter).

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (ΔΣΘ)

Founded: January 13, 1913 at Howard University
Colors: Crimson and cream
Symbol:
Fortitude
Motto:
Intelligence is the Torch of Wisdom
Nickname:
Deltas, Redz
College Town undergraduate chapters:
Alpha Lambda (NCCU), Kappa Omicron (UNC), Lambda Omega (Duke), Mu Omicron (N.C. State)
Fun fact: The first white member of Delta Sigma Theta was Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, who attended Duke University for a year before participating in the 1961 Freedom Rides and later becoming the first white student to enroll in Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi.

Chamon McCray (left) and Marquise Grizzle of Shaw University’s Gamma Tau chapter pose on the Alpha Epsilon chapter of Iota Phi Theta’s plot at NCCU. Photo by Kaylee Sciacca.

Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. (ΙΦΘ)

Founded: September 19, 1963 at Morgan State University
Colors: Charcoal brown and gilded gold
Symbol:
Centaur
Motto:
Building A Tradition, Not Resting Upon One!
Nickname:
Iotas, Centaurs, Outlaws, Thetamen
College Town undergraduate chapters:
Alpha Epsilon (NCCU), Gamma Xi (N.C. State)
Fun fact: Iota Phi Theta is the only Divine Nine organization to have an official “sweetheart.” “Eternal Sweetheart” Audrey Brooks was a Morgan State staff member who was integral to the creation and promotion of Iota Phi Theta in its beginning years.

Alpha Kappa brother Garreth Carpenter sits with his “Kappa kane,” which has his line name “Gizmo” on one side and his line position, “Deuce,” (second) on the other. Photo by Kaylee Sciacca.

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. (ΚΑΨ)

Founded: January 5, 1911 at Indiana University Bloomington
Colors: Crimson and cream
Symbol:
Diamond
Motto:
Achievement in Every Field of Human Endeavor
Nickname:
Kappas, Nupes
College Town undergraduate chapters:
Alpha Kappa (NCCU), Iota Xi (Duke), Kappa Xi (N.C. State), Theta Omicron (UNC)
Fun fact: The founder of NCCU, Dr. James E. Shepard, was a brother of Kappa Alpha Psi, joining the fraternity’s Durham alumni chapter in 1923.

Omega Psi Phi, Inc. (ΩΨΦ)

Founded: November 17, 1911 at Howard University
Colors: Royal purple and old gold
Symbol:
Lamp
Motto:
Friendship is Essential to the Soul
Nickname:
Que Dawgs, Ques, Omega Men, Bruhs
College Town undergraduate chapters:
Kappa Lambda (N.C. State), Omega Zeta (Duke), Psi Delta (UNC), Tau Psi (NCCU)
Fun fact: During the application and screening process, the applicant’s background will be checked for any criminal record, and the applicant may be subject to a polygraph test.

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. (ΦΒΣ)

Founded: January 9, 1914 at Howard University
Colors: Royal blue and pure white
Symbol:
Dove
Motto:
Culture For Service and Service For Humanity
Nickname:
Sigmas
College Town undergraduate chapters:
Alpha Alpha Chi (Duke), Gamma Gamma (NCCU), Xi Gamma (UNC), Xi Zeta (N.C. State)
Fun fact: Phi Beta Sigma and Zeta Phi Beta are the only constitutionally bound NPHC organizations. The shared Phi Beta letters “seal and signify the relationship between the two organizations,” according to the NPHC.

Sierra Hicks says that being in Sigma Gamma Rho “has taught me how to go hard for what I love no matter what.” Photo by Kaylee Sciacca.

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. (ΣΓΡ)

Founded: November 12, 1922 at Butler University
Colors: Royal blue and gold
Symbol:
Poodle
Motto:
Greater Service, Greater Progress
Nickname:
SGRhos, Lady Sigmas, Sigma Women, Sigmas
College Town undergraduate chapters:
Beta Omicron (NCCU), Kappa Omega (N.C. State), Lambda Psi (UNC), Omicron Nu (Duke)
Fun fact: Sigma Gamma Rho is the only NPHC sorority not founded at Howard University.

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. (ΖΦΒ)

Founded: January 16, 1920 at Howard University
Colors: Royal blue and white
Symbol:
Dove
Motto:
A community-conscious, action-oriented organization
Nickname:
Zetas
College Town undergraduate chapters:
Gamma Gamma (NCCU), Mu Xi (N.C. State), Nu Omicron (Duke), Omega Iota (UNC)
Fun fact: The five women who founded Zeta Phi Beta — Arizona Cleaver, Pearl Neal, Myrtle Tyler, Viola Tyler and Fannie Pettie — are known as “The Five Pearls.”

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Kaylee Sciacca
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9 Comments

  • Linda
    February 13, 2017, 9:42 am

    Please double check your founding dates.

    REPLY
    • Kaylee Sciacca (ksciacca)@Linda
      February 13, 2017, 10:59 am

      Hi Linda,

      Thank you for catching my mistake – downside of using a template for each organization. The founding dates will be updated.

      REPLY
    • Pressley Baird@Linda
      February 13, 2017, 11:33 am

      Linda, thank you for your note! We’ve made those changes.

      REPLY
  • Joy
    April 18, 2017, 7:46 pm

    Hi, Tougaloo is in Jackson, Mississippi. Not Jackson, Georgia.

    REPLY
    • Pressley Baird@Joy
      April 19, 2017, 9:06 am

      Thank you, Joy! We have made that change.

      REPLY
  • My Homepage
    August 27, 2017, 2:20 am

    … [Trackback]

    […] Read More here: collegetownnc.com/whos-who-in-the-nphc-divine-nine/ […]

    REPLY
  • Dana
    October 4, 2017, 12:31 pm

    Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated was founded at Cornell University, not Howard University…

    REPLY
  • Phillip Watkins
    December 6, 2017, 1:47 pm

    Hello,

    The actual founding location of Alpha Phi Alpha is Cornell University.

    REPLY
    • Phillip Watkins@Phillip Watkins
      December 6, 2017, 1:49 pm

      Also, if there founders day was Monday, then the founding date on here needs to be corrected

      REPLY

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