Thousands of Greek delegates, Greek members, their guests and community supporters will converge on the city this week to celebrate the “one-ness” and the unity of African-American collegiate fraternities and sororities.
“‘The Divine Nine’ is what we’re called, historically black fraternities and sororities,” said Charles Williams, social chair of the National Pan-Hellenic Council Memphis (NPHCM).
“We celebrate each year with an annual Greek Week, filled with forums and meetings, mixers and parties, steppers and stompers. Despite our light-hearted rivalries, we are unified in our commitment to serving our communities. But we’re always going to exhibit our pride in the organizations we represent. But we really aren’t rivals at all.”
Festivities kick off with a service project on Tuesday, July 24, when Divine Nine organizations host “Purses with a Purpose.” The service project will benefit the Corinthian Hope House (CHH). NPHCM members round up toiletries and personal supplies. Corinthian Hope House, located at 766 Highland Avenue, is a refuge and safe haven for women and children affected by domestic violence.
“The supplies donated by these organizations mean so much to these women and their families,” said Gwen Turner, director of CHH.
“The donations go a long way as we work to help our clients put the pieces of their lives back together. The generosity of these fraternities and sororities is such a great blessing to us each year. So many precious lives are touched, and we are just so thankful.”
Williams said everyone is invited to enjoy all the festivities, “even if you aren’t Greek.”
“Everyone should come out and enjoy our mixers and step events, but especially, we’re asking all of Memphis to join in this worthy service project with Corinthian Hope House. We are rounding up such items as soap, small towels, toothbrushes, toothpaste, feminine products, lotion, hand sanitizers, deodorant, diapers, baby wipes, baby shampoo, gift cards and any other products that would be useful to these families. We want this year to be the biggest supply drive yet.”
Greek Week will then sponsor the Greek Mixer, Wednesday, July 25, at the Memphis Sounds Lounge, 280 Island Drive, 6 p.m. The invitation is to come mix it up with the Divine 9. Dancing, cocktails, food, and lots of fun will be had.
Friday, July 27, the fun continues with a step show, swag and brag, at the LeMoyne-Owen College Gymnasium, 807 Walker Ave. Vendors will be on site.
Saturday, July 28, is the Greek Week Picnic at MLK Park South Pavilion on West Mallory Ave. Lots of food, music and fun is on the menu.
On Sunday, Greek Week will culminate with a Founders’ Day Program at Mt. Pisgah CME Church, 2490 Park Ave., at 3 p.m. The program showcases each of the Divine 9 organizations and their contributions to the community.
Darrell S. Catron, NPHCM president, said the council is expecting thousands to participate across the week, with well over a million dollars impacting the business community.
“There are more than 25,000 Divine 9 members in the Greater Memphis community,” he said. Their families, friends and community supporters will add welcome numbers to Greek Week participation. We look forward to great fellowship and fun with each other and with our community.”
The National Pan-Hellenic Council was founded in 1930, during the time of racial segregation. Black fraternities and sororities were not allowed membership in the National Pan-Hellenic Council. Founding Greek organizations were: Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta and Zeta Phi Beta. The other four Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLO) joined shortly after, including: Alpha Phi Alpha (1931), Phi Beta Sigma (1931), Sigma Gamma Rho (1937) and Iota Phi Theta (1996).
The NPHC Memphis Chapter has celebrated Greek Week since 1946. This year is its 72nd celebration.