African American Fraternities and Sororities: The Legacy and the Vision

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The first African American fraternities and sororities were established at the turn of the twentieth century to encourage leadership, racial pride, and academic excellence among black college students confronting the legacy of slavery and the indignities of Jim Crow segregation. Black Greek letter organizations were also created to foster a sense of community among African American students on college campuses, and among their ranks are legendary artists, politicians, theologians, inventors, intellectuals, educators, civil rights leaders, and athletes. Nikki Giovanni, Cornell West, Martin Luther King Jr., Shaquille O'Neal, Toni Morrison, Bill Cosby, and W.E.B. DuBois were all members of black fraternities and sororities, and these groups continue to have a strong presence on campuses today. Offering a comprehensive overview of the historical, cultural, political, and social circumstances that propelled the creation of these groups, this collection of original essays references the profound contributions that black Greek letter organizations and their members have made to American history. The contributors also examine current black Greek life and culture, addressing issues such as hazing and branding that are, perhaps unfairly, often at the forefront of discussions about these organizations. African American Fraternities and Sororities is the authoritative history of these influential and sometimes controversial organizations.