The National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc. (NPHC) is the collaborative effort of nine historically African American Greek-lettered fraternities and sororities, also known as the Divine 9. The Council was founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C., on May 10, 1930, and chartered by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., founded 1908 at Howard, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., founded 1913 at Howard, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., founded 1920 at Howard, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., founded 1911 at Indiana University, and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., founded 1911 at Howard. In 1931, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the first African American fraternity established in 1906 at Cornell University, joined along with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., which was founded at Howard in 1914. In 1931 when the NPHC was incorporated under the laws of the State of Illinois, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., founded in 1922 at Indianapolis’ Butler University, became a member.
Sixty years later, in 1996, Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc., created on the campus of Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, was welcomed as NPHC’s ninth affiliate member. The NPHC is composed of an elected president of each member fraternity or sorority. Alternatively, an authorized representative designated by the president of the respective fraternity or sorority can represent the fraternity or sorority in the absence of the president. The Council promotes a lifetime commitment to Black cultural awareness and unity. It exposes its members to the “service for life” philosophy. It also instills leadership skills and development and promotes academic excellence.
These Divine Nine components were established because Blacks were only admitted to Greek letter organizations at Bowdoin College in Maine. Blacks were not admitted to other similar organizations at Predominant White Institutions (PWIs) during the Jim Crow era. Despite being established for Blacks, the Divine Nine has always been student-friendly and open to all, regardless of ethnicity.
Today, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc.’s collective membership is more than 1.5 million undergraduates and college and university graduates globally. There are currently chapters in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, the Bahamas, Germany, and South Korea. NPHC members include or have included a diverse array of individuals, including United States Vice President Kamala Harris, Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston, Georgia Congressman John Lewis, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., writer Toni Morrison, Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois, Dr. Cornel West, former Jamaican Prime Minister Norman Manley, public intellectual and television personality Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, actress Loretta Devine, Congressman Elijah Cummings, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Black Panther Party founder Huey P. Newton, Meteorologist Spencer Christian, tennis star Althea Gibson, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, Sr., and scientist Dr. George Washington Carver.