By: Kym Grinnage
As part of Black History month, I wanted to pay tribute to historically African American fraternities, sororities, and service organizations that have been a part of African American culture since the 1800's.
Members of organizations like the Masons, the Elks, the Kappas, the Omegas, the Boule, the AKAs, the Deltas, the Links, the Girlfriends and Jack & Jill, just to name a few, have played an essential role in civil rights, education, community service and professional development in the African American community for decades.
Historical figures like Martin Luther King, Jr., W. E. B. Dubois, and Dorothy Height were all members of one or more of these organizations.
There is much debate about some unsuccessful fraternities that did not receive incorporation, but there are three organizations that I would like to highlight. The oldest incorporated African American Greek letter fraternity, Sigma Pi Phi, also known as the Boule, was established in 1904, and Alpha Phi Alpha was the first incorporated collegiate black fraternity established in 1906. And the first African American sorority was Alpha Kappa Alpha established in 1908.
All of these professional organizations are active today with hundreds of chapters across the United States. If you would like to learn more about these organizations and their history, here are two books that I recommend:
'African American Fraternities & Sororities', Edited by Tamara L. Brown
'Our Kind of People', by Lawrence Otis Graham