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The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities Paperback – January 1, 2001

4.1 out of 5 stars 105 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This history of black fraternities and sororities confirms the underlying purpose of these institutions: to provide a supportive educational environment for their members during college and social and business networks beyond college. Ross notes the substantial variation on the specific circumstances behind the formation of black fraternities and sororities. For example, Alpha Phi Alpha was formed at Cornell University just after the turn of the last century to counterbalance extreme racial hostilities aimed at the few black students. Shortly thereafter, in the more protective environment of predominantly black Howard University, Omega Psi Phi was formed. More recently (1963), older commuter students at Morgan State formed Iota Phi Theta. The underlying theme in all cases was camaraderie with a special emphasis on providing support to minorities in hostile environments, whether on campus or the broader racial environment of the U.S. Ross profiles several members of black fraternities and sororities, many of them prominent, and notes the contributions the groups have made to black leadership in the U.S. Vernon Ford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Never before has information about African American fraternities and sororities been published for the general public, until now...

America's black fraternities and sororities are a unique and vital part of 20th century African American history, providing young black achievers with opportunities to support each other while they serve their communities and the nation.

From pioneering work in the suffragette movement to extraordinary strides during the Civil Rights era to life-changing inner-city mentoring programs in the 1990s, members of these organizations share a proud tradition of brotherhood, sisterhood, and service.

Today, America's nine black fraternities and sororities are two and one-half million members strong with chapters at major universities and colleges, including Stanford University, Howard University, and University of Chicago.

This extensive yet very accessible book celebrates the spirit of excellence shared by African American fraternity and sorority members, both past and present, and is sure to be treasured for generations to come.

INCLUDES INTERVIEWS WITH FAMOUS MEMBERS OF THE DIVINE NINE --

From John H. Johnson and Dr. Gwendolyn Goldsby-Grant to Star Jones and Shaquille O'Neal

PLUS INSPIRING PROFILES OF OTHER FAMOUS MEMBERS --

From Langston Hughes and Ella Fitzgerald to Toni Morrison and Colin Powell

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington; Reissue edition (January 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0758202709
  • ISBN-13: 978-0758202703
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

LAWRENCE C. ROSS, JR., an important writer of African American literature, has written six books, including The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities; The Ways of Black Folks: A Year in the Life of a People; Money Shot: The Wild Nights and Lonely Days in the Black Porn Industry; Friends With Benefits; Skin Game; and his newest book, Blackballed: The Black and White Politics of Race on America's Campuses.

The Divine Nine is a multiple Los Angeles Times, Essence, and Blackboard bestseller. In both hard cover and trade paper, The Divine Nine is in its seventh printing with over 50,000 copies sold to date. It also remains on the Amazon.com African American studies bestsellers list, and for the past year has been the #1 best selling book among African American college students. His novels Friends With Benefits and Skin Game were Blackboard best sellers.

Blackballed is an explosive and controversial book that rips the veil off America's hidden secret: America's colleges have fostered a racist environment that makes them a hostile space for African American students. Blackballed exposes the white fraternity and sorority system, with traditions of racist parties, songs, and assaults on black students; and the universities themselves, who name campus buildings after racist men and women. It also takes a deep dive into anti-affirmative action policies, and how they effectively segregate predominately white universities, providing ample room for white privilege. A bold mix of history and the current climate, Blackballed is a call to action for universities to make radical changes to their policies and standards to foster a better legacy for all students.

Educated at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at Los Angeles, Ross received a Bachelor of Arts in History from UCLA. Ross also received a Master of Fine Arts from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

Ross has lectured at over 500 colleges and universities, as he is universally recognized as an expert in the field of African American fraternities and sororities. He has appeared on National Public Radio, Good Morning Atlanta, and is regularly interviewed by Ebony, Essence, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, The Root.com, The Grio.com, the BBC and National Public Radio, among others.

Ross began his writing career in the mid 90s as the managing editor of Rap Sheet magazine, the West Coast's first hip hop publication. After two years of writing about hip hop and interviewing the top stars in music, Ross moved to the Los Angeles Independent Newspapers, where he covered local politics in Westwood, Culver City, Hollywood and West Hollywood, for three years.

Ross currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife April and their son Langston..

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Let me first state that this book is an excellent reference for those intersted in African-American fraternities. However, it does have a few shortcomings. The book is primarily a summary of the history of each of the nine NPHC organziations. This is fine but where is the historical analysis? Without this, all we get is a "basic" history which tells us little about the evolving context that continuously shapes these organizations. Second, this book does not do justice to the huge "shake-up" that has occured surrounding the monumental changes in how NPHC organizations create new members. This issue is at the very core of "fraternal idenity" and what it means to be a member of an African-American fraternity/sorority in today's society. So how come it isn't discussed more? This is akin to ignoring the presence of an elephant that is sitting in your living room!
Lastly, despite being a history book, Mr. Ross falls slightly short in his examination of the early years of surrounding the history of black "Greeks." First, how does Mr. Ross justify including on his list of famous Alpha men a person (Frederick Douglass) who was dead more than ten years before Alpha Phi Alpha was founded? Second (and more importantly), how can you even BEGIN to talk about African-American greek-letter organziations without mentioning (or discussing) the role that Prince Hall freemasonry played in shaping the African-American fraternal movement of the early twentieth century?
All in all this is a good book but a truly thorough analysis of these 9 organizations has yet to be written...
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Format: Paperback
Got this book with The Elite 8: The Unauthorized Collective History of African American Fraternities and Sororities and both books were informative. I like the secret collectible thing's The Elite 8 Collective History of African American Fraternities and Sororities better becuase it is more along the lines of stuff I had to learn. It goes into the founders and their background, traditions, and info on what all the greek language andjargan they speak. I like both books but highly recommend The Elite 8: The Unauthorized Collective History of African American Fraternities and Sororities
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Format: Hardcover
I gifted myself with a copy of The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities by Lawrence C. Ross, Jr. It is a must have book that all Black Greeks and African Americans in general should display on their bookshelves!
The author is a 15 year member of Alpha Phi Alpha, married to a soror of Delta Sigma Theta and is a journalist who has written for many newpapers. He realized that the history of our organizations is an important part of the history of our people in this country in this century and should be told. The time and effort that he put into compiling the information in the book must have been mammoth.
The book is divided into sections profiling each sorority and fraternity. Each section contains a historical overview, interviews with an undergraduate and a graduate chapter, profiles and lists of prominent members, messages from the national president/basileus/polemarch and pictures dating back to the early years. This is followed by a section entitled Achievers Talk which consists of interviews with members such as Spencer Christian, Nikki Giovanni, Gwendolyn Goldsby Grant, Cynthia Horner, John H. Johnson, Julian Malveaux, Shaquille O'Neal, Tavis Smiley, Faye Wattleton, just to name a few. They each speak about what membership means to them and impart an important message that they feel fraters and sorors should hear. The author follows this section with information from the National Pan Hellenic Council and procedures for those who are seeking membership.
Our organizations could not have done a better public relations job. There are no secrets revealed, just great accomplishments. The recurring theme is our achievements as organizations and those of individual members.
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Format: Hardcover
I was very disappointed in the book. I felt that the book was written for the benefit of people interested in Black Greek Life or men interested in Alpha. For all of the hoopla surrounding this book, it's written more like several long drawn out magazine articles than it is a book(I am still trying to figure out the point of including an interview section). I found that it did not read as smoothly as a "real" novel would. I found it interesting that he spent double the amount of pages talking about his organization, Alpha Phi Alpha than any other(40 vs. 20). I found him to be biased in his view of some of the fraternities in regards to what he included. Also, some of the "history" that he included about those fraternities is questionable. And finally, I found that the interview section of supposed prominent greeks to be uninteresting. Had he spent more time on research and actually learning about the other organizations as opposed to taking things out of their history books, I would have enjoyed the book. So, basically, I would recommend the book to someone trying to get an insight onto Black Greek Life but not to a fellow Black Greek(It's just not worth the $30).
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