Hundreds filled an auditorium at the University of Minnesota on Saturday to watch six historically African-American Greek organizations perform choreographed routines using stomping, clapping and chanting.
Though homecoming has been a tradition for over 100 years at the University of Minnesota, the school’s multicultural fraternities and sororities have wished to hold their own homecoming event for years and finally achieved that through Saturday’s event.
The National Pan-Hellenic Council hosted their first ever Minnesota Stampede Step Competition in Ted Mann Hall on Saturday, a show they hope to include in the official homecoming week agenda in the future.
The show allowed each of the six active NPHC chapters to perform choreographed compilations of steps and strolls in a competition for the life-size Minnesota Stampede trophy, which was taken by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., said Ronald Atkinson, NPHC and interfraternity council advisor.
“This has been the best damn job I’ve ever had,” Atkinson said. “The [University of Minnesota] knows the NPHC is here now.”
Stepping and strolling originated in South Africa and was practiced by African-American slaves, said Joyce Nguenkam, a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. The tradition has since evolved into an art form and was adopted by all NPHC organizations and some Multicultural Greek Council organizations.
Nguenkam said the choreographed pieces communicate a story through sounds and claps.
During the step show, nine judges, all alumni of NPHC chapters, sat in front row seats to rate each chapter's precision, creativity, energy and extent of crowd participation, Atkinson said.
NPHC Chairman Richard Pittman said he and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority President JaLisa Jackson started planning for the Stampede show in December.
“We’re not added to the marketed events of homecoming just yet. We’re kind of separate from them, but we do plan on suggesting to [the Interfraternity Council] and [the Panhellenic Council] to add this,” Pittman said. “We’re making history. … We all finally have a place to come during homecoming to bring us back as NPHC. It’s a great feeling.”
NPHC and MGC organizations typically participate in the parade, community service events and in all the other homecoming festivities with the other councils, but were happy to have an event marketed specifically toward them, Pittman said.
Throughout the rest of homecoming week, NPHC chapters were partnered with chapters from MGC, IFC and PHC to partake in other events, despite a mix-up in communication regarding their pairings and activity participation, Nguenkam said.
Members from chapters of IFC, PHC and MGC attended the show to support the NPHC chapters as well, said Nguenkam, who is also the homecoming and Spring Jam chair for NPHC.
“The energy and the work that gets put into this is incredible,” said University President Eric Kaler, who attended the competition with his wife, Karen Kaler.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated how many judges were part of the competition. There were nine.