Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., a private, nonprofit organization, was founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C., in January 1920. The five founders, or “Pearls, ” as they are more commonly referred to-Pearl Anna Neal, Arizona Cleaver Stemons, Viola Tyler Goings, Myrtle Tyler Faithffil, and Fannie Pettie Watts-strove to charter an organization that focused on the ideals of scholarship, service, sisterly love, and finer womanhood. A founding member of the National Pan Hellenic Council, Inc., Zeta is also the only African American Greek-lettered sorority that is constitutionally bound to a brother organization, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. Sharing the official colors of royal blue and white, both organizations have their national headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Zeta is also proud of its other “first” accomplishments. It was the first black sorority that chartered international chapters in West Africa and Germany, formed both adult and youth auxiliary groups, and employed the first paid staff to administer both its national and international affairs from its central office in Washington, D.C. Like other African American Greek-lettered organizations, Zeta's membership hosts a variety of impressive and accomplished women, including the actresses Janet DuBois and Esther Rolle, the singers Sarah Vaughn and Dionne Warwick, the author Zora Neale Hurston, and Dr. Deborah Wolfe, former educational chief of the House of Representatives.
Zeta, like the other eight major black Greek-lettered organizations, is a life-time membership organization. With official membership criteria tied to post-secondary education, many of its projects provide college and community service at the local, national, and international level. Zeta maintains a list of traditional initiatives such as Stork's Nest, a program that provides goods and services to young mothers. In recent years Zeta also organized relief programs in response to national disasters. In the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, for example, the organization called upon members to send money and other donations to the victims of the storm.
Preparing for the approaching millennium, Zeta has encouraged local chapters to sponsor young people at the NASA Space Camp. Zeta chapters also support voter registration campaigns and efforts of local charities. At the beginning of each new calendar year, Zeta salutes its founders with Salute to Finer Womanhood activities and luncheons. Zeta is supported financially through dues and gifts of members, or “Sorors.”
In the United States, all national initiatives and administrative work are managed by the national headquarters. National policy and program initiatives are dictated by an executive board that oversees state chapters and eight regional divisions: Midwestern, Great Lakes, Atlantic, Eastern, Southeastern, South Central, Southern, and Pacific. Chapters in Germany are supervised by the Atlantic region and those in the Caribbean are directed by the Southeastern region. Information about Zeta's programs is distributed during local chapter meetings, annual regional conferences, and biannual national conferences and through the organizations official publication, The Archon. Local chapters are represented on the local councils of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC). Through its affiliation with the NPHC, Zeta Phi Beta also works with other black Greek-lettered organizations, pooling resources and sponsoring joint service projects and program initiatives to assist African American communities.
Zeta Phi Beta