Come October 2019, the city of Memphis will be draped in a sea of colors, from pink and green to red and white to purple and gold and various colors in between, thanks to Memphis being selected as the host of the 2019 National Pan-Hellenic Council Leadership Conference.
“Leaders from the Divine 9 Black Greek organizations and thought leaders from all over the country will be here,” said Darrell Catron, president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council of Memphis (NPHCM). “Our leaders are being called to the table, and we’re going to take care of some family business, namely, the upcoming 2020 election.”
This 2019 Memphis destination has been brewing since 2015 when Catron and other Greeks traveled to Mobile, Ala., for the biannual leadership confab. Dallas had secured the 2017 convention.
“I left Mobile determined to launch a serious and intentional effort to get that meeting here in 2019. Kermit Madison of the Convention and Visitors Bureau bought into the idea right away. … We knew we had a shot, but we were going up against Baltimore. And that’s one of the largest convention cities in the nation,” Catron said.
“We invited the committee to our suite, and we showed them all the wonderful things in our city. They got great gift bags with ‘All Things Memphis.’ And that was it… We are grateful to Mayor (Jim) Strickland and his administration for the support we received in this endeavor.”
The five-day meeting is projected to attract 1,500 delegates and pump several million dollars into the local economy. After an opening social event and, possibly, a golf tournament, the rest of the time will be devoted to “the business at hand – devising strategies on making the 2020 election successful,” Catron said.
“We have invited other thought leaders to join us at the table – presidents of historically black colleges and universities as well as leaders from the NAACP and the Urban League. We are going to be the change that we want to see.”
Lloyd M. Stallings, national conference planning chairman on the NPHC executive board, said the presence of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital made Memphis a clear choice.
“We have spearheaded service projects over the years to benefit St. Jude. And we thought it would be great to have Memphis host the 2019 gathering.
“We’re planning to take care of the Greek members’ development and parliamentary issues. Then after that, we will be about the business of galvanizing our troops for the 2020 election. Issues like how to obtain vans for transporting people to the polls, strategies to take back on conducting voter registration drives.”
Stallings said work also is underway with NOBLE, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement, to “come up with ways to bring back the old community policing when we get back home.”
There are more than 25,000 Divine 9 members in Greater Memphis.
(The National Pan-Hellenic Council was founded in 1930, during the time of racial segregation. Founding Greek organizations were: Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, and Zeta Phi Beta. The other Divine 9 members are: Alpha Phi Alpha (1931), Phi Beta Sigma (1931), Sigma Gamma Rho (1937) and Iota Phi Theta (1996).