Juneteenth is a national holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger led the Union Soldiers to Galveston, TX to announce the end of the Civil War and the freedom of all enslaved African Americans. The unique name Juneteenth pays homage to that date by combining the words “June” and “nineteenth.”

Juneteenth paved the way for African Americans to start attending colleges in much greater numbers in the early 1900s, and thus establishing their own fraternities and sororities. The Divine Nine, also formally known as the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), is a council consisting of nine historically Black sororities and fraternities. They include:

  • Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity
  • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority
  • Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity
  • Omega Psi Phi Fraternity
  • Delta Sigma Theta Sorority
  • Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity
  • Zeta Phi Beta Sorority
  • Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority
  • Iota Phi Theta Fraternity

Each of these fraternities and sororities is steeped in tradition and history. In honor of Juneteenth, GreekYearbook has put together a quick snapshot of each Divine Nine organization below. We’re proud that six of the nine were founded right here in GreekYearbook’s home state of Maryland, at Howard State University and Morgan State University, two Historically black colleges. Read on to learn more about this important chapter in the history of Greek life.

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity

  • First ever African-American intercollegiate fraternity
  • Founded in 1906 at Cornell University in New York
  • Notable Members: Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Lionel Richie

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

  • First ever African-American intercollegiate sorority
  • Founded in 1908 at Howard University in Maryland
  • Notable Members: Kamala Harris, Maya Angelou, Alicia Keys, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Jada Pinkett-Smith

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity

  • Founded in 1911 at Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Over 700 chapters nationwide
  • Notable Members: Colin Kaepernick, Cedric The Entertainer, Montell Jordan

Omega Psi Phi Fraternity

  • Founded in 1911 at Howard University in Maryland
  • First fraternity founded at an HBCU
  • Notable Members: Rev. Jesse Jackson, Michael Jordan, Langston Hughes, Steve Harvey, Shaquille O’Neal

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority

  • Founded in 1913 at Howard University in Maryland
  • Over 900 chapters with 350,000+ members, which makes it the largest African-American Greek-letter sorority in the world
  • Notable Members: Aretha Franklin, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Betty Shabazz, Cicely Tyson

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity

  • Founded in 1914 at Howard University in Maryland
  • Over 700 chapters
  • Notable Members: George Washington Carver, Elijah Cummings, Rep. John Lewis

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority

  • Founded in 1920 at Howard University
  • First Greek-letter organization to charter a chapter in Africa in 1948
  • Notable Members: Vivica A. Fox, Chaka Khan, Dionne Warwick

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority

  • Founded in 1922 at Butler University in Indiana
  • Over 700 chapters
  • Notable Members: MC Lyte, Kelly Price

Iota Phi Theta Fraternity

  • Founded in 1963 at Morgan State University in Maryland
  • Over 300 chapters
  • The youngest of the Divine Nine, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year
  • Notable Members: Spencer Christian, Webster Lewis, Drew Fraser