Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Which Frat Will Win The Presidential Membership Sweepstakes?

One of the questions asked within the African-American family during the primary and the general election campaign about the Obamas was which 'Divine Nine' frat or sorority would they become a member of.

The 'Divine Nine' is the collective name coined by author Lawrence Ross for the four African-American sororities, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta and Sigma Gamma Rho and the five African-American fraternities Alpha Phi Alpha, Omega Psi Phi, Kappa Alpha Psi, Phi Beta Sigma and Iota Phi Theta.

The 'Divine Nine sororities and fraternities have been a historically integral part of African American life, and the membership rolls include people across the Diaspora and non-Blacks as well. Chances are that if you are a high achieving African descended person in a wide range of fields, you're a member of their ranks.

Since neither the president nor the First Lady were members or pledged when they matriculated in college, the competition was keen to get both of them ensconced as members of their organizations.

On the sorority side, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that the First Lady would probably end up an AKA (and did). Corporate headquarters for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc (skee-wee) is in Chicago, there are strong alumni groups there and in Washington DC where the sorority was founded 101 years ago last month, and they were wooing her during the AKA's centennial year as well.

As for the prez, the battle is still up in the air between the frats for presidential bragging rights.

Will it be Alpha Phi Alpha, which has the distinction of not only being the first African-American Greek letter fraternal organization, but boasts of having Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in their ranks in addition to congressmembers Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Al Green (D-TX) to make the A Phi A case?

Will it be Phi Beta Sigma, who not only was founded in Washington DC, counts Harold Washington (the first African-American mayor of Chicago), Black Panther founder Dr. Huey P. Newton, Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah, scientist George Washington Carver and several members of congress in their ranks such as civil rights warrior Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and Edolphus Towns (D-NY)?

Kappa Alpha Psi can counter with current DC mayor Adrian Fenty, civil rights warrior Ralph Abernathy, astronaut Bernard Harris and congressmembers such as John Conyers (D-MI) and Bennie Thompson (D-MS) that are well placed to lobby 'Brother Prez'.

Will it be Omega Psi Phi, who also has Washington DC roots, fly jock Tom Joyner as a member along with Challenger astronaut Ron McNair, Bill Cosby and congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr (D-IL), but so is Jesse Jackson, Sr?

Or will it be the new kids on the block, Iota Phi Theta? It was founded in 1963 and has grown to 35,000 members including former GMA weatherman Spencer Christian and actor Terrence 'TC' Carson from Living Single. However, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) is a member, and he beat the prez badly during their 2000 congressional race.

Stay tuned peeps. You'll know who wins this sweepstakes because it will be trumpeted all over the Greekosphere and beyond by the winning frat.

No comments: