HOUSTON - Black Greek letter organizations have been deeply rooted in African-American history since the 19th century.
The first organization was founded at Cornell University in 1906.
Since then, the nine historically black Greek letter organizations that comprise the National Pan-Hellenic Council, have formed lifelong bonds on college campuses across the country.
University of Houston's Marlon Smith says, "The reason they`re called the divine nine is because ar a very particular place there was something that we called that was divine, that was inspirational, that sparked the development of these organizations. From 1906 to basically 1963, the current black greek letter organizations have been around basically as forms of service, scholarship, outreach, particularly for African-Americans as they matriculate through colleges and universities. The founders of the organization knew the privilege status or the relative status that they had being on a college campus. and so they recognized that with that relative privilege comes a type of responsibility. They sought to figure out how to organize and so we sometimes thing about these organizations as stepping, stepping being the most popular of that but in reality, it's really about sticking to a tradition that links us to the African continent."