New Exhibit

The DIVINE NINE An informative art exhibit celebrating their origins.

The exhibit is a collaboration between MEROE Museum and local resident Greek Organizations. Greek organizations in Second Life are composed of people from real life. Residents of Second Life came together to form these organizations so they could make an impact on Second Life and Real Life. All of the Greek orgs in Second Life manage campaigns which provide donations to real world communities and community based organizations.

This exhibit provides an overview of the original Divine Nine, black organizations which inspired the creation of the Second Life Greek organizations. The exhibit also features booths decoration into art installations, to provide an overview of each organization.

Please scroll down for more information about the Divine Nine. If you cannot scroll please, enable MEDIA.

DIvine Nine

Black Greek-letter organizations (BGLOs) emerged during a period that is characterized as a low point in American race relations. These associations were established on the principles of personal excellence, racial uplift, community service, civic action and kinship. Their emergence coincided with significant national developments, including the rise of Jim Crow laws, the popularity of scientific racism, and widespread racial violence and prejudice.

Black students, whether studying at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) or predominantly white institutions, came together to create these organizations, forging familial ties to one another and outreach within the larger Black community. Those kinships and ties endure to this day. BGLOs formed at a time when Greek life at predominantly white institutions excluded Black students. 

The Divine Nine is the nickname of a group of nine historically Black

Greek-letter organizations called the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC). These nine organizations have a significant place in Black American history and culture. Collectively, these organizations comprise nearly 4 million members. These organizations are a source of family and community to many Black students, with some first-generation members and others joining as a legacy.

The Divine Nine organizations have been around since the early 1900s and have contributed greatly to Black American culture. They are committed to public service, scholarship and brother- and sisterhood. These traditions have trickled down through generations of members and even infiltrated pop culture. The Divine Nine’s impact on Black American life and culture is apparent. Today, the nine BGLOs that comprise the National Pan-Hellenic Council

Divine Nine Overview

The History of the Divine Nine

Now known nationally and internationally, the Divine Nine have a long and rich history cultivated over decades of growth.

Sororities and Fraternities for Black Students

Initially, fraternities in the United States, like the institutions of higher learning in which they were founded, were exclusively for white male students. Women created sororities in response to the fraternities’ refusal to admit them. Subsequently, when Black students began to enroll in universities, they faced the same issue. So, they created the first Black Greek-letter organizations in response to the racism Black students experienced on campuses.

After the establishment and popularization of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the United States, Black fraternities and sororities followed. The organizations began out of fellowship and shared principles rather than as a direct response to racist beliefs and practices. Howard University, in particular, was the founding site for five of the Divine Nine. These organizations quickly spread to other universities in the coming decades, including at primarily white institutions (PWIs).

Black Greek Organizations Formed the NPHC

Howard University students founded the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) — not to be confused with the National Panhellenic Conference — in 1930 to spark unity and protect the members’ collective interests.

Though some members of NPHC were at HBCUs, others were not and needed a place to ensure their institutions would treat them fairly. The council’s formation ensured that members would have a say on their respective campuses.

The Divine Nine’s Civil Rights Legacy

Black Greek-letter organizations like the Divine Nine have been historically significant for many reasons, including involvement in the Black Arts movement, the Civil Rights movement, the Black Power movement, and most recently, Black Lives Matter. As organizations committed to serving the Black community, these organizations’ missions easily fell in line with the movements’ missions.

Many members of Divine Nine organizations were pivotal figures in the Civil Rights movement, including but not limited to:

Chapters themselves were also important to the movement, as they formed connections with organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

Impact on Pop Culture

The Divine Nine has also had a deep influence on Black American culture. They are a staple of Black collegiate life, and variations of Black Greek-letter organizations often appear as pop culture references in media. Shows like A Different World and movies like Stomp the Yard ( though not without some controversy) showcase how truly influential these organizations are in pop culture.

Additionally, the overall culture of Black Greek-letter organizations shines through in other pop culture moments, like Beyonce’s historic 2018 Coachella performance in which she stylized her own Black Greek-letter organization, Beta Delta Kappa.

What the Divine Nine Does Today

Today, the Divine Nine is still deeply committed to the Black community. The organizations have not forgotten their history as changemakers and are still dedicated to service, empowerment, and fellowship.

Members of NPHC called for racial justice in 2020, specifically in response to George Floyd’s killing. Individual chapters and members have also demonstrated in support of the message behind the Black Lives Matter movement.

Both collegiate and alum members of the Divine Nine organizations participate in philanthropic efforts — from heart disease awareness to denouncing sexual assault — with the specific cause varying from chapter to chapter. They are all also very involved in voter rights activism.

The Divine Nine at HBCUs

At HBCUs, the Divine Nine are usually intertwined with the history of the schools. They are involved in campus-wide events and are recognized and celebrated by faculty and staff. HBCUs feature Greek life organizations like the Divine Nine at athletic events, professional affairs, and the HBCU homecoming experience — which is much more than just a football game for many HBCUs.

Additionally, members of the Divine Nine understand the powerful network of members, both collegiate and alumni, that come along with joining these organizations. With more people interested in joining HBCUs, those networks become much stronger.

The Divine Nine at PWIs

At PWIs, Divine Nine organizations may be less involved in school-sponsored activities and events, but they are no less committed to their missions. These groups often become hubs for Black and other minority students interested in the principles of Divine Nine organizations.

Additionally, Divine Nine members at PWIs are often leaders of social activism on their campuses. They also tend to be involved with other organizations across campus. Divine Nine fraternities and sororities at PWIs tend to be smaller in number and very tight-knit, with members who are devoted to their new-found families.

All information for this exhibit is from a variety of sources and experiences, however the majority of the content for this article and exhibit are from the below creators. We thank them for their service to our people and culture.

For additional information, please review the original article.

Original Creators of the article:

By Sydney Clark

Edited by Cameren Boatner

Reviewed by Pamela “Safisha Nzingha” Hill, Ph.D.

Published on August 3, 2023

h ttps://

National Museum of African American History and Culture,service%2C%20civic%20engagement%20and%20philanthropy.

Verified by MonsterInsights