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Adinkra 9 Conception

Social Greek organizations, known as fraternities, began forming on college campuses across the United States in the early 18th century. Their purpose was to provide a sense of community and unique opportunities for white male students. These organizations were often highly exclusive and barred membership to students of certain genders or races, specifically Black students. The first white fraternity in North America to incorporate most of the elements of modern fraternities was Phi Beta Kappa, founded at the College of William and Mary in 1776.

At the start of the 20th century, with racism and discrimination still overtly prevalent, a small number of Black students came together from mainly Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to form their own sororities and fraternities. These organizations were initially known as the “Elite 8” and are now known collectively as the National Pan-Hellenic Council or the “Divine Nine.” Each of these organizations were established with unique core values but shared a common goal: to educate and uplift the Black community from racial inequities.
• Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Founded 1906, Cornell University
• Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Founded 1908, Howard University
• Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Founded 1911, Indiana University
• Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Founded 1911, Howard University
• Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Founded 1913, Howard University
• Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Founded 1914, Howard University
• Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Founded 1920, Howard University
• Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Founded 1922, Butler University
• Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Founded 1963, Morgan State University
Black fraternities and sororities predominantly recruit Black college students and provide a network that includes both undergraduate and alumni members. These organizations were typically founded by Black American undergraduate students and faculty at various institutions or Black leaders in their communities.

For the past century, Black Greek organizations have created safe spaces for young Black adults to excel in college, help unite Black communities across the country with service and have laid the foundation for Black people to connect with each other for professional opportunities. These organizations deserve to be honored.

Dr. Abdalla Rashad Tau has been a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. since the spring of 1999. He was drawn to the organization’s mission, motto, and illustrious history. However, over time through enlightenment, education, and conviction, he became opposed to the organizations relation with Greek culture.

Historically, Black people have felt the need to assimilate into white spaces to gain white acceptance, make white people feel comfortable, and to achieve the unattainable “American Dream.” Assimilation includes but is not limited to bestowing their children with European names for the purpose of looking more favorable on a resume; code switching; sending their children to white private schools; attending predominately white institutions over historically Black colleges and universities; and once gaining a perceived level of success, moving their Black families to predominately white communities. It’s past time for Black people to recognize their greatness and stop looking to their white counterparts as a gauge for success.

Rejecting Greek letters and embracing West African Adinkra symbols to outwardly express the greatness of Black fraternities and sororities is an application of Independent Thinking and a perpetual protest in the face of centuries of oppression, racism, and the disenfranchisement of Black people. Adinkra symbols are symbols of the Akan people of present day Ghana that represent various pearls of wisdom

Adinkra 9 is the BLACK EVOLUTION of Greek (white) influenced organizations (fraternities and sororities) that are historically Black. This progressive ideology is not meant to be divisive or contentious. It will simply enhance the greatness that precedes it. The essence of all 9 Black fraternities and sororities, encompassing great achievement, overcoming great adversity, high levels of scholarship, and extraordinary ingenuity, is unapologetically Black. However, the aforementioned organizations promote and present themselves as Greek. Adinkra 9 allows these organizations to view themselves through their aboriginal Black lens versus an indoctrinated European white lens.