The Importance of Music Fraternities/Sororities on HBCU Campuses

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    Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs), all over the nation are familiar with the culturally innovative, “Divine 9/D9” Black Greek Organizations. However, when “Fab4,” is mentioned there's few who are familiar and many who aren't. Fab 4 consists of four of seven National Interfraternity Music Council Organizations; Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America, Inc. (1898, my beloved fraternity; Fall ‘17)., Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity (1903), Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity, Inc. (1919), and Tau Beta Sigma National Honorary Band Sorority, Inc. (1946). These organizations all stand in similarity due to their passion for music and how we individually seek to use music as a platform to generate positivity within the world. Presently, these beloved organizations are active at several HBCUs and fulfilling their individual missions/goals.  

    This is when the “BUT” comes in, HBCUs and more notably D9 aren’t as acknowledging to us in most cases. Fab4 has to fight the hardest to gain recognition being overshadowed by the popularity of D9. In HBCU culture, “the yard” is used as slang for the campus, and Divine 9 organizations all fight to claim they run it. As Greeks and even higher of a standard as music greeks, we deserve our respect. There is nothing that makes D9 greater or Fab4 less than.

    There are even individuals who have the pleasure of being both. We all pay our dues to achieve greekdom. We, music greeks at HBCUs, are what make the campuses’ choirs, bands, and all other events that exhibit musicality lively. Our talents and true passion for music are present within ourselves, but extremely vivid in our fraternities and sorority, collectively. Without our presence in general, there would be a missing element of flair.

    Yes, you would have the choir and the band, but would it be what it is today? Would the sounds that you hear generated from your HBCUs choir and band be clean and professional? Fab4 organizations take great pride in musicianship and perfection is what we always strive for. When you see us, don't think that we aren't important. Our organizations weren’t founded by African Americans, but someone saw fit for us to be chartered at HBCUs.  We are the representation for African Americans, thus making us a part of the culture. In comparison, PWIs (Predominantly White Institutions) having D9 at their schools is also due to the fact there was a vision and ultimate reason for them being to be chartered.

    In part of our representation, we’ve adopted themes from our culture to bring forth into the music world of greekdom, such as probates and strolls/steps. While adopting, we also have our own style and that is when our art of music comes into play. We use the basis that our organizations stand on and implement our extensive roots gained while attending an HBCU to effectively display to our peers. Historically, our organizations have planted seeds to get where we are from a black perspective. Howard University holds the first black chapters of Phi Mu Alpha (Zeta Iota, 1952) and Sigma Alpha Iota (Delta Nu,1956). Texas Southern University holds the first black chapter of Tau Beta Sigma (Beta Omicron,1958). Due to chapters chartering simultaneously in 1957, Kappa Kappa Psi credits two black chapters; Langston University (Delta Alpha) and Texas Southern University (Gamma Omega).

    At the end of the day, we have a mission, object, purpose(s) to fulfill and uphold the same as D9. Fab4 has so much to offer, not only to HBCUs but to the world in general. Music is our essence and without it we wouldn't be here and would bring forth the impact that we possess.

To learn more about the Fab4 organizations mentioned in this article, check out their websites:


Steven T. Thomas, Jr.  20, Junior, Mass Communications, Virginia State University

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