Black Greek-letter organizations (BGLOs) are fraternities and sororities that were founded by African American students on college campuses in the United States. These organizations were created to provide a sense of community and support for Black students, who faced discrimination and segregation in many aspects of campus life.
The first Black Greek-letter organization, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, was founded on December 4, 1906, at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Its founders, known as the “Seven Jewels,” wanted to create an organization that would promote scholarship, leadership, and service to the community. The fraternity went on to establish chapters at other universities across the country and played a significant role in the civil rights movement.
In 1908, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority was founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C. by a group of Black women who wanted to promote academic excellence, political awareness, and community service. It was the first sorority founded by Black women and became a model for other Black sororities.
Other BGLOs followed, including Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, founded in 1911, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, founded in 1911, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, founded in 1913, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, founded in 1914, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, founded in 1920, and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, founded in 1922. These organizations also focused on promoting scholarship, leadership, and community service, and many of them were involved in civil rights activism.
Today, BGLOs continue to be an important part of the Black community and have expanded their focus beyond college campuses to include community service, social justice activism, and mentorship programs for young people. They have also inspired the creation of other multicultural and diversity-based organizations on college campuses.