Historically African American greek chapters focus on service, leadership

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At the turn of the 20th century, many young African American men and women, just one generation removed from the years of slavery in the United States, began to attend universities across the nation in a monumental advancement for American minorities.

However, as these individuals worked towards academic and social excellence, the need for unity outside the classroom had increased and organizations began to colonize in attempt to foster the environment necessary for their visions. Now known as the Divine Nine, these organizations are nationally and internationally established greek chapters. All nine chapters are now present at K-State. They strive to promote scholarship, leadership and service within the collegiate African American community.

The Kappa Pi chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority

The women of AKA devote their time and resources to the basic principles of human rights through initiatives, or “platforms,” that change every four years. Jazmin Richmond, AKA president and senior in nutritional sciences, said one of her favorite causes the organization supports is breast cancer awareness.

“We do a basketball tournament to raise money, and we also do ‘Pie the AKAs,’ where people donate money in jars and whoever has the most [money in their jar] gets pied in front of everyone,” Richmond said.

Richmond described the AKAs as hard working women who still like to have a good time at programs and events and emphasized the organization’s dedication to service.

“I just want people to know that it’s more than just your looks or what you wear,” she said. “It’s about serving your community. The events you put on are important, the service you do is important, and all the little things matter. It’s not how you look from the outside, but what you’re actually putting into the sisterhood on the inside.”

The Delta chapter of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity
In 1917, one of the fraternity’s original founders, Charles Brown, moved to Kansas and founded the Delta chapter of Phi Beta Sigma at K-State. The Delta chapter at K-State promotes breast cancer education and awareness during the month of October, participate in the polar plunge to raise funds for the Kansas Special Olympics and they host an annual event called “Sleep Out for the Homeless” to bring awareness to local, state and federal homelessness and poverty. The Delta chapter is also award winners for their different steps and strolls.

The Nu Beta chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority
SGRho’s aim is to enhance the quality of life within the community, and public service, leadership development and education of youth are the hallmarks of the organization’s programs and activities. Nationally, the sorority strives to give leadership, service and resources toward removing barriers and inequalities so that all people of America may develop their potential.

Examples of SGRho’s programming includes their “Program for Africa” where the sorority partners with Africare, and assists in alleviating the often dangerous labor African women endure. This program also addresses needs through HIV/AIDS awareness, education and treatment. The organization also supports “Project Reassurance” to provide health education for teen mothers and “Operation Big Book Bag” to collect and donate school supplies for student in need across the country.

The Theta Eta chapter of Iota Phi Theta fraternity
The Iotas purpose is “the development and perpetuation of scholarship, leadership, citizenship, fidelity and brotherhood among men.” Through this statement, its members work to embody its motto, “Building A Tradition, Not Resting Upon One.” The Iotas national service initiatives serve to address a variety of issues, including the needs of African American youth in the community, health-related issues faced by African Americans and persons of African decent and education about the impact that the African American culture has had on society.

The Eta Gamma chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority

DST works to promote its main principles of academic excellence, scholarship and service, and its 12 active members at K-State strive to embody these values through their motto, “intelligence is the torch of wisdom.”

Jasmine Taylor, president of DST and senior in animal science, said the organization’s philanthropic events work to foster that wisdom, not only in its own members, but throughout the entire K-State campus.

“Right now, we’re doing our ‘Sober in October’ event to promote mindfulness about alcohol and other harmful substances,” Taylor said. “We don’t necessarily ask that people stop consuming alcohol all together, but we want them to be more aware of what they’re consuming.”

Taylor said for her, the best part of being involved in DST is that no matter where she goes, she always has a sister to fall back on.

“I’ve never met a group of ladies that wants to learn more and more every day and keep moving forward as much as them,” Taylor said.

The Delta Delta chapter of Omega Psi Phi fraternity
Omega Psi Phi has more than 700 chapters internationally, including the local chapter, and has produced notable leaders in the arts, sciences, academics, civil rights, education and government at the local, national and international levels. The fraternity’s international programs emphasize achievement, scholarship and health initiatives to help better the community through the organization.

The Beta Psi chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity
Across the nation, Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity participates in a number of “Kappa Programs,” such as a youth development program called “Guide Right,” and “Diamonds in the Rough,” a campaign to promote the academic, social and service-based achievements of young men of color.

In May of 2013, the Kappas received the 2012-2013 Midwest Provincial Chapter of the Year Award, which is the highest honor the fraternity gives to a chapter in its Midwest province.

The Epsilon Mu chapter of Zeta Phi Beta sorority
The Zetas promote the values of scholarship, service, sisterhood and finer womanhood. Nationally, it supports several philanthropic events and partnerships, such as an elder care initiative to provide awareness about preparing for one’s senior years, “Adopt-a-School,” which allows chapters to identify low-performing schools and provide assistance to enhance students’ educational experiences and their “International Women of Color” program, which includes support for those with AIDS or those caring for AIDS victims and literacy programs in Ghana, Africa.

The Kappa Tau chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity
Vuna Adams, special programs chair for the Alphas and senior in marketing, shed light on one of his favorite chapter sponsored events, the Miss Black & Gold Pageant. This year will be the 15th annual scholarship pageant, which serves to showcase the talent and excellence of women of color at K-State.

“The whole point of the pageant is to portray African American women in the most positive light possible,” Adams said. “We love working with the girls, helping them with their public speaking skills and working on their poise and how to command an audience.”

The annual Miss Black & Gold Pageant often fills up Forum Hall with about 600 audience members, making it one of the fraternity’s largest events. Winners of the pageant receive scholarships to help with their academic endeavors, but Adams maintained that there’s more to be won than money.

“If nothing else, the girls leave with a lot of intangibles,” Adams said. “We take them to church service with the chapter and encourage them to participate in dining etiquette classes and things like that. Typically, the girls who go through the pageant stay really close-knit. That’s something we just love about it.”

As far as his personal achievements, Adams said that he feels Alpha has been incredibly influential in helping him transform into the person he is now.

“For myself, the best part of being involved in the organization has been my own development,” Adams said. “It really feels good, because I saw my own development, and now I’m able to help others coming into college by helping them transition. It’s taught me that leadership is selfless.”

No matter what historically African American chapter people are willing to chose, they all offer their own benefits and negatives. For all of these chapters, they encourage interested students to do research and make sure they understand how each chapter works and what programs they host – find out which one will best fit each interested student.

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