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‘Divine 9’ leaders capture spotlight at Greeks’ 69th national conference

Seven hundred-plus leaders of African-American sororities and fraternities are slated to occupy Downtown Memphis at the 69th Biennial National Leadership Conference — a four-day affair (October 17-20) hosted by the National Pan-Hellenic Council of Memphis and the D9 Foundation of Memphis.

The National Pan-Hellenic Council, Incorporated (NPHC) is composed of nine International Greek letter Sororities and Fraternities: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Formed in 1930, the NPHC’s purpose and mission since then has been, “Unanimity of thought and action as far as possible in the conduct of Greek letter collegiate fraternities and sororities, and to consider problems of mutual interest to its member organizations.”

Kicking off what is being called one of the most important meetings in the history of the conference will be the “Black and Political” Panel Discussion (Oct. 17). Local activists will be setting the theme for the conference’s urgent call to political action in the 2020 elections.

“More than ever before, our actions will show that this time around we are not asleep at the wheel. We are definitely woke,” said NPHC Memphis President Darrell Catron.

“We are saying enough is enough. The political discourse and tone do not represent the majority of this country. We are not partisan, but we have determined that Donald Trump must be removed from the White House. Senators who do not represent the majority of the people must be removed. We must take the Senate.”

The conference lineup also features the  “Welcome to Memphis Cocktail Reception.”

“We are proud to welcome delegates to our beautiful city at the opening reception event,” said Catron. “This year, we are especially honored to showcase the elected officials and leaders who have made Memphis so great. These 18 honorees are without question among the most important and influential voices in Memphis and Shelby County.”

Catron cited two major themes embedded in the council’s single purpose in 2020: to significantly impact voter numbers and to make sure the U.S. Census Bureau represents underserved communities.

“We’ve got to get moving on the political front now because we are determined that the narrative in this country is changed,” he said.

“We must be successful in three areas: registration, education, and mobilization. People must be registered to vote. Then we must educate them, and lastly, they must be inspired and mobilized to take action. Their voices must be heard at the polls.”

A series of meetings and strategy sessions will focus on ensuring that next year’s census properly represents communities that have not been adequately counted historically.

“We must make sure our Hispanic brothers and sisters on this side of the border and DACA individuals are counted in the census so communities can receive badly needed services that will improve their quality of life. It is part of changing the narrative,” said Catron.

“And it’s just not people of color being effected. White folk are suffering, too. We are going all over — to Appalachia, the Delta, the Northeast, the Mid-West, all through Texas. We’ve got to flip the state of Texas.”

Conference headquarters is the Downtown Sheraton Hotel, 250 N. Main Street. The cocktail reception and the panel discussion following are both open to the public. RSVP is requested at: D9FoundationMemphis@gmail.com. Light hor’ d’oeuvres will be served with a cash bar. Attire is business casual.

2019 NPHC National Leadership Council Honorees

  • Carol Johnson Dean, Delta Sigma Theta
  • Camille Wright, Sigma Gamma Rho
  • Bev Johnson, Delta Sigma Theta
  • Dr. Tracy Hall, Delta Sigma Theta
  • Dr. Joris Ray, Kappa Alpha Psi
  • Calvin Anderson, Phi Beta Sigma
  • Velma Lois Jones, Alpha Kappa Alpha
  • Martha Perinne Beard, Alpha Kappa Alpha
  • Michael Rallings, Alpha Phi Alpha
  • Mark Stansbury, Omega Psi Phi
  • Stan Bell, Kappa Alpha Psi
  • Mike Evans, Phi Beta Sigma
  • Lois Ryan Lambert, Delta Sigma Theta
  • Teresa Jones, Delta Sigma Theta
  • Deborah Henderson, Delta Sigma Theta
  • Jayne Chandler, Alpha Kappa Alpha
  • Rhynette Hurd, Alpha Kappa Alpha
  • Gina C. Higgins, Alpha Kappa Alpha

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