On February 15, 2023, the Center for Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Bush School of Government & Public Service, in partnership with the Texas A&M University Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, hosted a Salute to the Divine Legacy of Black Sororities and Fraternities. The event was held in the Stark Gallery at the Memorial Student Center (MSC) on the main campus of Texas A&M.
Across the room, nine quilts with the emblems of the nine historically African American fraternities and sororities were proudly displayed. Members of the various organizations donned jackets with their Black Greek organization’s letters. Currently, Texas A&M has six of the nine National Pan-Hellenic Council’s fraternities and sororities.
Dr. Kenneth Taylor began the event by welcoming the audience and giving a shout-out to his own Greek Organization, Omega Psi Phi fraternity. He explained how Black Greek organizations function as public service organizations focused on, “keeping fellow members in school and doing well.”
Black Greek organizations were founded beginning in 1906 as a response to blatant discrimination with African American students not being allowed to join organizations with their white peers. Eight of the nine Black Greek organizations were formed at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) which were also founded as a response to discrimination and segregation at higher education institutions.
Brigadier General Joe Ramirez, Vice President for Student Affairs at Texas A&M, spoke about A&M’s commitment to promoting Black fraternities and sororities and what they do for the community. He reflected on his own life and the impact of Black Greek organizations had on his military career, seeing Black officers with deep connections who were committed to mentoring others.
Following General Ramirez, the night’s guest speaker, Rasheed Ali Cromwell, described the history of Black Greek organizations and what the future could look like. Cromwell emphasized the importance of service was critical to early Black Greek organizations because services were denied to African Americans, so they turned to each other for support. After noting that currently 19% of all African-American students are first-generation college students, he emphasized the important role Black Greek organizations can play for students. Cromwell is currently the President of the Harbor Institute in Washington, D.C.
Cromwell concluded his speech discussing the future of Black Greek organizations, especially at Texas A&M. He emphasized the necessity for greater recognition of the impact Black Greek organizations make both on and off campus, as well as the need to increase recruitment to these organizations.
“This is a wonderful event that will continue to be an annual tradition for the Center for Nonprofits and Philanthropy and the A&M Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life,” Dr. Taylor said. “We will continue to celebrate the Divine Nine and its members.”
For more information on Black Greek life visit the Texas A&M National Pan-Hellenic Council website.