Black Greek 101: The Culture, Customs, and Challenges of Black Fraternities and Sororities

Black Greek 101: The Culture, Customs, and Challenges of Black Fraternities and Sororities

Black Greek 101: The Culture, Customs, and Challenges of Black Fraternities and Sororities

Black Greek 101: The Culture, Customs, and Challenges of Black Fraternities and Sororities


"Black Greek 101 is the first book to provide a complete analysis of the culture of historically Black fraternities and sororities. Based on over ten years of research, Black Greek 101 presents a detailed history of Black fraternalism as a whole. As a unique culture within the college environment, these organizations are fascinating examples of the ways students form groups with their own artifacts, rites, customs, stories, and rituals that help them to adapt to the larger college environment. When members of Black fraternal organizations and non-members alike finish Black Greek 101, they will have a foundation for understanding some of the most interesting organizations that have influenced not only campus culture, but American culture as a whole." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


In the Fall of 1985, I was preparing to venture off to the University of Georgia as a freshman. Of course, much of my thoughts were on the challenges I expected academically. However, having been an involved high school student, including student body president, I knew that I would continue to seek opportunities for development outside of the classroom.

I clearly remember a conversation with my father before I left. He reiterated that my major goal at Georgia was to do well academically. Of course, that was a given for me. He did offer his “advice” on joining a fraternity. “If you decide to join a fraternity, you'd better join the right one,” he indicated. “Otherwise, you will become a work-study student.”

The rebel in me was not to be intimidated by his threats, and so I entered school that fall ready to take on the challenges of college life. Part of the challenge was navigating the Greek life scene. I was determined to have an open mind when it came to fraternities as far as possible, so I convinced myself that I would explore my options. Since I attended an overwhelmingly Black high school, the thought of joining a White fraternity never seriously entered my mind. Any Black freshman at UGA abruptly learned that segregation and racism still existed in the mid-1980s. In fact, my naivete quickly ended during an intramural game of football as my residence hall floor team beat a White team, and one of the losers (in retrospect, in more ways than one) called us “niggers.” I had never been called that to my face, and fully expected that we were about to come to blows. But a levelheaded sophomore told us that he just wanted to call us that, and we left.

So, my realistic options for fraternalism were found in historically Black Greek-lettered organizations. Only three groups were active my freshman year, and I thought there were two I might consider joining. I attended each of their smokers, trying to learn more about the organizations and the men who made up their chapters. In fact, after attending the first smoker, that of my father's fraternity, some of the brothers actually encouraged me to view another smoker so that I could be sure I knew which organization was the best fit for me.

In my eighteen-year-old mind, there was only one choice for me, and that spring of 1986, I pledged Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. With all the challenges of pledging, I actually enjoyed the process and the experiences. Having two parents who are Greek, my father also an Alpha, and my . . .

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