We’re nearing the end of Black History Month, a time to not only recognize black history on a national scale but also how it pertains to our own university.
The University of Minnesota has its own rich black history, including the Morrill Hall takeover in 1969 and the establishment of the African-American studies department. These events mark the beginning of a strong black student culture that still exists today in student groups, Afrocentric departments and courses, and black greek organizations.
At the University, students project their school pride in sororities and fraternities. Frat row is a mainstay with numerous houses along University Avenue. But many may not know that there is also a rich, developing black greek presence on campus as well.
These black greek letter organizations, or the “Divine Nine,” began between 1906 and 1963 and make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council.
This month, black greek leadership on campus has pushed to register the National Pan-Hellenic Council with its national office as an official student group. Establishing the greek council will be another step for the University in building an institutionalized black student culture. A school-level council requires only two member organizations, and the University has seven: fraternities Omega Psi Phi, Kappa Alpha Psi and Phi Beta Sigma and sororities Zeta Phi Beta, Delta Sigma Theta and Alpha Kappa Alpha.
Each organization has its own social culture, attitude, values and history. In addition to chapter colors and letters, BGLOs also have unique dance styles, or “strolling” routines, of stepping and the vocal signaling of call and response.
Like many student groups, black greek letter organizations often hold public events and step shows where students can learn and appreciate what these organizations represent.
Though these organizations may not be the most visible of the University’s greek groups, they are an important part of our campus history. This month, and throughout the year, students should learn about crucial and developing black greek organizations.