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Phi Beta Sigma (ΦΒΣ) is a predominantly African-American fraternity which was founded at Howard Universitymarker in Washington, D.C.marker on January 9, 1914. by three young African-American male students. The founders A. Langston Taylor, Leonard F. Morse, and Charles I. Brown, wanted to organize a Greek letter fraternity that would exemplify the ideals of brotherhood, scholarship, and service. The fraternity is the only one of its kind to aid in the creation and hold a constitutional bond with a predominantly African-American sorority, Zeta Phi Beta (ΖΦΒ). The fraternity was incorporated on January 31, 1920 in Washington D.C.

The fraternity expanded when second and third chapters were chartered at Wiley Collegemarker and Morgan State Collegemarker in 1915. Today, the fraternity serves through a membership of more than 150,000 men in over 650 chapters in the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean. Although Phi Beta Sigma is considered a predominantly African-American Fraternity, membership also consists of College-educated men of African, Caucasian, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian descent. Men may join through collegiate chapters at a college or university, or through a graduate chapter with at least 2 years undergraduate.

Since the fraternity's establishment over ninety five years ago, Phi Beta Sigma has helped to improve the general welfare of African Americans, and provided leadership and service during the Great Depression, World Wars I & II, the Civil Rights Movements, and created service initiatives relating to Business, Economic Empowerment, Education, Political Awareness, and Health.Phi Beta Sigma is a member of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC). The current International President is Jimmy Hammock, and the fraternity's headquarters are located at 145 Kennedy Street, NW Washington, D.C.


Genesis and founding (1910-1916)

The birthplace of SIGMA: the 12th Street YMCA in Washington, D.C.
In the summer of 1910, after a conversation with a recent Howard University graduate, Abram Langston Taylor formed the idea to establish a fraternity and soon after, enrolled into Howard University in Washington D.C. Once there, Taylor began to set his vision of a brotherhood into action. In October 1913, Taylor and Leonard F. Morse had their initial conversation about starting a fraternity. As a result, Charles I. Brown was named as the third member of the founding group. By November 1913, a committee was established to begin to lay the foundation of what was to become Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. Soon after the first committee meeting, Taylor, Morse, and Brown chose 9 associates to assist them with the creation of the fraternity. Those men were the first charter members of the organization.

On January 9, 1914, the permanent organization of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity was established in the Bowen Room of the 12th Street Y.M.C.A Buildingmarker in Washington D.C. On April 15, 1914, the board of Deans at Howard University officially recognized Phi Beta Sigma and the following week The University Reporter, Howard University's Student Publication, made known the news.

The first two years of the fraternity's existence would see them organize and maintain a Sunday school program, led by A.H. Brown, open a library and art gallery to the public, the foundation of the Benjamin Banneker Research Society, and also the Washington Art Club. In addition to their impact to the Washington D.C. Community, the members of sigma were also impacting the campus of Howard University. Abraham M. Walker was elected associate editor of the Howard University Journal. The following year, Walker and Founder A. Langston Taylor, were elected Editor-in-chief and circulation manager respectively. Other members were also taking leadership positions as W.F. Vincent, William H. Foster, John Berry, Earl Lawson among others were presidents of the debating society, the college YMCA, the political science club, and the athletic association respectively. On the athletic field, captain John Camper and J. House Franklin were standout football players.

In the spring of 1915, the fraternity was seeking to further its intellectual pool. As a result, several affluent African American scholars Dr. Edward P. Davis, Dr. Thomas W. Turner, T.M. Gregory, and Dr. Alain Leroy Locke, were inducted into the fraternity. On march 5, 1915, Herbert L. Stevens was initiated in turn making him the first Graduate member of Phi Beta Sigma.

Founding photo of Alpha Chapter, Howard University, circa 1914
A year after the establishment of Phi Beta Sigma, the fraternity saw that the scope of sigma needed to be expanded beyond just Washington DC and Howard University. On November 13, 1915, Beta Chapter was chartered at Wiley College in Marshall, Texasmarker by graduate member Herbert Stevens. Beta chapter became the first chapter of any African-American Greek lettered organization to be chartered south of Richmond, Virginiamarker. As Phi Beta Sigma continued its expansion in the Eastern and Southern United States, other national fraternities were beginning to take notice. In accordance with Sigma History, on December 11, 1915, the fraternity received a letter from Elder W. Diggs, founder and Grand Polemarch of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity., The letter proposed a strategic merger of the two organizations as Kappa Alpha Psi's core membership were primarily in the Midwest, and Phi Beta Sigma's membership was mainly in the south and eastern regions. On December 18, A. Langston Taylor sent a reply letter respectfully declining the offer to merge. these has yet to be confirmation this letter, from Kappa Alpha Psi keeper of records, thus leaving this referal undocumented.

On December 28, 1916, Phi Beta Sigma hosted the fraternity's first conclave in Washington D.C. 200 members representing three collegiate chapters, Alpha, Beta and Gamma (established at Morgan State College were in attendance. As a result of the 1916 conclave, an official publication for the fraternity was authorized and member W.F. Vincent as elected as the National Editor.

World War I & the Sigma call to arms (1917-1919)

African-American soldiers marching in France During World War I.
Phi Beta Sigma responded to a "call to arms" in 1917 as the United States entered the First World War. The chapters of Sigma were so depleted that only the Alpha Chapter showed any signs of activity and the National Office ceased to function. The General Board was forced to re-organize as a result of death and other dislocations brought on by the war.. President I. L. Scruggs would ask founder A. L. Taylor to contact the Brothers as soon as they re-appeared in civilian clothes . Taylor called on the National Board to fill the vacancies created by the "Call to Arms and on May 4, 1919, Taylor wrote letters to the Beta and Delta Chapters (established at Kansas State Collegemarker) in an attempt to track down the membership. By June 1919, all chapters were reactivated with the exception of Beta Chapter, where the National Office experienced great difficulty locating Sigma men. It was through the efforts of Taylor that the fraternity was able to continue and proceed to operate financially as numerous Sigma men served on the European battle front.

Incorporation and the founding of Zeta Phi Beta (1920-1933)

In December 1919, Phi Beta Sigma hosted the fraternity's first conclave after the war. The conference was held in Washington D.C. It was at this particular conference that founder A Langston Taylor was given approval from the General Board to assist in the organization of what was to become the sister sorority to Phi Beta Sigma.

The creation of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority was organized at Howard University, in Washington, D.C., on January 16, 1920. The founders and charter members of the Sorority consisted of Arizona Cleaver, Viola Tyler, Myrtle Tyler, Pearl Neal, and Fannie Pettie. (Significantly enough, a sister relationship — a consanguineous one — already existed between Viola Tyler and Myrtle Tyler.) It is indeed interesting to note further that there were two men of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Charles R. Taylor and A. Langston Taylor, who assisted the “Five Pearls” in organizing the sisterhood. In fact, the interest manifested by the Taylors and the enthusiasm, energy, and ability exhibited by Arizona Cleaver provided the cornerstone for the building of the Sorority.

Phi Beta Sigma member Charles R. Taylor, who was instrumental in assisting with the founding of Zeta Phi Beta, made the following comments in the 1959 Fall Crescent Magazine.

"Arizona Cleaver was the chief builder and she asked fourteen others to join her. I shall never forget the first meetings held in dormitory rooms of Miner Hall. Miss Hardwick, the matron, never knew I was about until I was escorted out by Arizona, who was her assistant. I was Miss Hardwick’s favorite boy."

"As National Executive Secretary of Phi Beta Sigma, I wrote to the officers of every Sigma Chapter requesting the establishment of a sister organization. There was quick response — so, in addition to the Alpha Chapter, at Howard; Beta, Morris Brown University; Gamma, Morgan College (Gamma was a second Chapter, so named because they wished to carry the same name as the Sigma Chapter on Morgan’s Campus); Delta, Kansas City State College; and Epsilon, New York City, were started by ardent brothers who saw the good in my meditations and in the work done by those first faithful sisters: Arizona Cleaver, Myrtle Tyler, Viola Tyler, Fannie Pattie and Pearl Neal. Following a formal introduction given by Brother A. Langston Taylor and me at the Whitelaw Hotel, they were also welcomed on the campus by the Alpha Kappa Alpha and the Delta Sigma Theta Sororities. Our first joint formal, Feb. 21, 1921, at the White-law Hotel, was a gala affair."

One of the more recent views about the connection between Phi Beta Sigma and Zeta Phi Beta was summed up in poetic piece by Ahab El'Askeni one of the writers of the Temple of Blue in the following way.

"Those within or outside of the blue & white family always seem to get hung up one issue in particular when it comes to Sigma and Zeta. That is, "How does the bond shared between Phi Beta Sigma and Zeta Phi Beta stands out from any the bonds that are claimed by other Black Greek Lettered Organizations?" Well, we do have a reason to love and respect our sorors as we LOVE and respect our brothers. We have a common history, which must be at least recognized and acknowledged before one can truly be called Sigma or Zeta. The Zeta Phi Beta Sigma bond gives me, a brother of Sigma, the ability to love my sorors as I love myself and all of mine."

Phi Beta Sigma's contributions to the Harlem Renaissance

The 1920s also witnessed the birth of the Harlem Renaissance- a flowering of African-American cultural and intellectual life which began to be absorbed into mainstream American culture. Phi Beta Sigma fraternity brother Alain LeRoy Locke is unofficially credited as the "Father of the Harlem Renaissance." His philosophy served as a strong motivating force in keeping the energy and passion of the Movement at the forefront. In addition to Locke, sigma brothers James Weldon Johnson and A. Phillip Randolph were participants in this creative emergence led primarily by the African-American community based in the neighborhood of Harlemmarker in New York Citymarker.

On January 31, 1920, Phi Beta Sigma was incorporated in the district of Washington D.C. And became known as Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated.

In November 1921, the first volume of the Phi Beta Sigma Journal was published. The journal was the official organ of the fraternity and Eugene T. Alexander was named its first editor. The following month, the fraternity held its 1921 Conclave at Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgiamarker. This conference saw the first ever inter-fraternity conference between Phi Beta Sigma and Omega Psi Phi. This would lead to the first inter-fraternity council meeting between the two organizations the following spring in Washington, D.C.

In 1922, Founder Taylor called for the assembly of the Black Greek Lettered Organizations of Howard University to discuss the formation of a governing council. Although, the efforts of Taylor failed on that particular day, they would sow the seeds for what was to become the National Pan-Hellenic Council eight years later.

1924 saw the adoption of Phi Beta Sigma's first national program; The Clean Speech Movement. The program was started by members of the Mu Chapter at Lincoln Universitymarker in Pennsylvania. In March of the same year, the name of the fraternity's official publication, The Phi Beta Sigma Journal, was changed to The Crescent Magazine. The magazine's name change was suggested by members of the Mu Chapter to reference the symbolic meaning of the crescent moon to the fraternity and to honor the pledges, who was seen as the future of the fraternity. At the 1924 conclave, the concept of the Bigger and Better Negro Business was introduced by way of an exhibit devoted to the topic. This would lead to the establishment of Bigger and Better Business as a national program at the 1925 conclave. At the 1928 Conclave, held in Louisville, Kentuckymarker, the tradition of branding the skin with a hot iron, as a part of the initiation process was officially frown upon

Sigma and the Great Depression

At the 1929 Conclave, held in New York Citymarker, Dr. Carter G. Woodson was invited as a guest speaker and saw the creation of The Distinguished Service Chapter The fall of 1929, saw the crash of the nation's Stock Market. Like many others during this period, Phi Beta Sigma also suffered a common fate. With brothers faced with financial worries, some members were forced to leave their respective institutions and chapters became inactive. The Fraternity saw its income drastically shrink to the point of nearly disappearing completely. As a result of the bank closures, the remaining funds of the Fraternity were frozen.

As the nation came to terms with the Great Depression, Phi Beta Sigma, and its members, continued to implement programs to support the black community. The fraternity went forward with its plans to implement the bigger and better business program and aid as many financially strapped chapters as possible through scholarships for brothers. In February 1930, the General Board met in New York City appointed, then vice president of the Eastern Region, Dr. T. H. Wright as head of the new Bigger and Better Business program. Phi Beta Sigma's first objective of the program was to call upon colleges to provide business courses for its students

Later that year, at the 1930 Conclave, held in Tuskegee, Alabamamarker, northern region vice president C.L. Roberts suggested that instead of a yearly meeting, the annual conclaves should be held once every two years. It was also at this conclave that brother George Washington Carver delivered and impassioned and emotional speech to the brothers in attendance.

Social action and international expansion (1934-1949)

Fraternity brother A. Phillip Randolph, who organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters played a role in the amendments to the Railway Labor Act in 1934. As a result, railway porters were granted rights under federal law. This victory and the continuing work of Randolph and the BSCP lead to the Pullman Company contracting with the union and winning $2 million in pay increases for employees, a shorter workweek, and overtime pay. 1934 also marked the birth of Social Action as a national program and the return of founder A. Langston Taylor to the forefront of Sigma. Brother Emmett May was elected as the first director of the social action initiative.

The 1935 Atlanta Conclave saw yet another meeting between Sigma and Omega Psi Phi fraternities. Omega founders Edgar Amos Love and Oscar James Cooper brought greeting to the brothers in attendance of the conference on behalf of the members of Omega Psi Phi. The following year, the general board approved the fraternity's affiliation with the already established National Pan-Hellenic Council. in continuation of Sigma's Social Action initiative, brothers of Sigma were actively involved the Chicago meeting of the National Negro Congress.

As Phi Beta Sigma prepared for the Silver (25th) Anniversary, a special search was made for lost founder Charles I Brown. The search would yield no results as to the fate or location of Founder Brown. The 1939 conclave marked the 25th anniversary of the fraternity which were held on the campus of Howard University.

At the 1941 Conclave - held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - the fraternity became a permanent member of the National Negro Business League. also Brother A. Phillip Randolph proposed a march on Washington DC to protest racial discrimination in defense work and the armed forces. This proposed march would lead then president of The United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt to create the Committee on Fair Employment Practice and issuance of Executive Order 8502 which bars discrimination in defense industry hiring.

Due to the outbreak of the Second World War, no Conclaves were held, although some brothers in various regions were able to assemble independently of the General the fraternity's first spring conclave in 1944, the fraternity voted to support of United Negro College Fund. 1949 would mark the reunion of two of the founders of Sigma; A. Langston Taylor and Leonard F. Morse.

The 1940s and 1950s would show the continued expansion of Phi Beta Sigma. In 1949, the fraternity became an international organization with the chartering of the Beta Upsilon Sigma graduate chapter and the Gamma Nu Sigma graduate chapter in Monrovia, Liberiamarker. The fraternity would extend its international chapters into Geneva, Switzerlandmarker with the chartering of the Gamma Nu Sigma graduate chapter in 1955.

Sigma and the Civil Rights Movement (1950-1969)

Co-founder of the Black Panther Party, Huey P.
Newton - Alameda County Court House Jail, Oakland, September 26, 1968
Alabama police attack Selma-to-Montgomery Marchers, 1965.
Federal Bureau of Investigation photograph

As the struggle for the civil rights of African Americans renewed in the 1950s, Sigma men held positions of leadership among various civil rights groups, organized protests, and proposed the famous March on Washington of 1963. In Atlanta, A. Phillip Randolph helped with the establishment of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957. Randolph and fraternity brother John Lewis would later be involved with the March on Washington. Randolph as a key organizer, and Lewis as a speaker, representing the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

In 1961, Phi Beta Sigma brother James Forman joined and became the executive secretary of the then newly formed Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. From 1961 to 1965 Forman, a decade older and more experienced than most of the other members of SNCC, became responsible for providing organizational support to the young, loosely affiliated activists by paying bills, radically expanding the institutional staff and planning the logistics for programs. Under the leadership of Forman and others, SNCC became an important political player at the height of the Civil Rights Movement.

During the Selma to Montgomery marches, Brothers Hosea Williams and John Lewis led a 54 mile protest march from Selma to the capital of Alabama; Montgomery. Lewis became known nationally for his prominent role in the marches. As a result of police attacks on the peaceful demonstration, Lewis was beaten mercilessly thus leaving head wounds that are still visible today.

Phi Beta Sigma brother Huey P. Newton helped establish the Black Panther Party. Originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, their goal was the protection of African-American neighborhoods from police brutality in the interest of African-American justice. The Black Power Movement is considered to be one of the most significant social, political and cultural movements in U.S. history. "The movement [had] provocative rhetoric, militant posture, and cultural and political flourishes permanently altered the contours of American Identity."

History (1970-2000)

Members of The Million Man March Planning Committee and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity in front of Phi Beta Sigma Headquarters; 1995.
As the new millennium approached, Phi Beta Sigma brothers continued to make an impact on the world around them. In 1970, brother Dr. Melvin H. Evans was elected the first governor of the United States Virgin Islandsmarker. In 1979, Phi Beta Sigma celebrated their 65th anniversary conclave in Washington D.C. In 1983, sigma brother Harold Washington became the first African-American mayor of the city of Chicagomarker, Illinoismarker. In 1986, the fraternity opened the Phi Beta Sigma Federal Credit Union which is open to members of the fraternity, members of the sister sorority, Zeta Phi Beta, their families in addition to the national Fraternity and Sorority, and their respective Regions and Chapters. With the establishment of the credit union, Phi Beta Sigma became the first NPHC organization of offer such a entity to its members.

In 1989, the fraternity celebrated its Diamond Jubilee in Washington, D.C. Also in that year, brother Edison O. Jackson became the president of Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New Yorkmarker.

The 1990s proved to be a decade in which the fraternity would play a part in writing both local and national history in the United States. In 1990, two sigma brothers made significant firsts in their respective fields as Brothers Charles E. Freeman and Morris Overstreet were elected the first district judge of the Illinois Supreme Court and first African-American elected by popular vote to a statewide office in the state of Texasmarker respectively. In 1995, the fraternity was the only NPHC organization involved with the planning and support of the Million Man March as brother Benjamin Chavis Muhammad served as national coordinator of the March.

21st century

Sigma Brother John Lewis speaks during the final day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.
In 2001, Sigma brother Dr. Rod Page became the first African American Secretary of Education. At the 2003 conclave, in Memphis, Tennesseemarker, the fraternity added Projects S.W.A.A.C & S.A.T.A.P as national programs in attempts to combat cancer and teenage pregnancy. In addition to those projects, the fraternity added Project Vote and the Phi Beta Sigma Capital Hill Summit under the social action umbrella. At the 2007 conclave in Charlotte, North Carolinamarker the fraternity introduced the Sigma Wellness initiatives as the latest national programs.

As the 2008 Presidential Election was to begin, sigma brother John Lewis withdrew his support from candidate Hillary Clinton in support for Clinton's opponent Barack Obama as the Democratic Party nominee.

Purpose of the fraternity

Members of Sigma in front of the International Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
The founders deeply wished to create an organization that viewed itself as "a part of" the general community rather than "apart from" the general community. They believed that each potential member should be judged by his own merits rather than his family background or affluence... without regard of race, nationality, skin tone or texture of hair. They wished and wanted their fraternity to exist as part of even a greater brotherhood which would be devoted to the "inclusive we" rather than the "exclusive we".

From its inception, the Founders also conceived Phi Beta Sigma as a mechanism to deliver services to the general community. Rather than gaining skills to be utilized exclusively for themselves and their immediate families, the founders of Phi Beta Sigma held a deep conviction that they should return their newly acquired skills to the communities from which they had come. This deep conviction was mirrored in the Fraternity's motto, "Culture For Service and Service For Humanity".

Today, Phi Beta Sigma has blossomed into an international organization of leaders. The fraternity has experienced unprecedented growth and continues to be a leader among issues of social justice as well as proponent of the African American community. No longer a single entity, the Fraternity has now established the Phi Beta Sigma Educational Foundation, the Phi Beta Sigma Housing Foundation, the Phi Beta Sigma Federal Credit Union, a notable youth auxiliary program, "The Sigma Beta Club", and the Phi Beta Sigma Charitable Outreach Foundation.

Fraternity mission statement

The brothers of Phi Beta Sigma are the Fraternity's most valuable resource and strength. They are the primary means by which Phi Beta Sigma objectives will be achieved. In Order to accomplish the Fraternity's objectives, it is essential that systems are instituted that effectively embody "Culture For Service and Service For Humanity" and promote Brotherhood Scholarship, and Service.

To optimize Phi Beta Sigma's effectiveness, the Fraternity will:

  • Strengthen and serve proactively, the Brotherhood. as a supportive resource that positively impacts the Fraternity's growth and financial solvency.

  • Reaffirm and maintain a strong commitment to Brotherhood. Scholarship and Service.

  • Ensure that the Fraternity programs are focused and committed to serving humanity.

  • Create an environment that respects the dignity and worth of each brother.

  • Exhibit integrity and ethical behavior in conducting the Fraternity's business. Serving as a model for all Greek-letter organizations,

  • Maintain and improve the Fraternity's technological literacy in order to better service its members and the community at large.

  • Foster and nurture our constitutional bond with Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

  • Encourage a closer and mutually beneficial working relationship with fellow Greek-letter organizations, other community service organizations, business and government.

  • Select leaders who are committed and have demonstrated the ability to "lead".

The philosophy of the fraternity is further crystallized in the following statement from Sigma Light.

"Finally, the great end of Sigma is service, service not only for the Fraternity, but for the general welfare of the society in which we live... symbols have no real meaning or function until they are put into everyday practice.... Symbols do not make the man, but are meaningful only when the interpretation of these become dynamic factors in determining everyday behavior." .


Phi Beta Sigma's membership is predominantly African American in composition with brothers in over 650 college and graduate chapters in the United States, District of Columbia, Germany, Switzerland, The Bahamas, South Korea, Japan and Africa. Since its founding in 1914, more than 150,000 men have joined the membership of Phi Beta Sigma.

The term frat, derived from the Latin word frāter for "brother", is used between members of the fraternity. Membership of the Directorate includes the General Board. A chapter name ending in "Sigma" denotes a graduate chapter. No chapter of Phi Beta Sigma is designated Omega, the last letter of the Greek alphabet that traditionally signifies "the end". Deceased brothers are respectfully referred to as having joined The Omega Chapter.

The Crescent Club was the official pledge club of Phi Beta Sigma. Potential candidates interested in becoming a member of the organization would join the pledge club before being initiated as a brother of the fraternity.The pledge period marked the time in which a crescent-the name given to a member of the crescent club-engages in before initiation. During this process, members learn the fraternity's history, its principals, and the meanings of fraternal brotherhood.

In 1990, as a result to the amounting Hazing lawsuits being filed against Black Greek Lettered Organizations (BGLOs), Phi Beta Sigma and the member organizations of the National Pan-Hellenic Council jointly agreed to disband pledging as a form of admission In an attempt to eliminate Hazing from these organizations, each revised its practices and developed Membership Intake Processes

Notable members

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity's membership includes many notable members who are involved in the fields of arts and entertainment, business, civil rights, education, health, law, politics, science, and sports. The fraternity's membership roster include heads of state such as: 42nd United States President, William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton, Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe, Kwame Nkrumah, William Tolbert, and William V.S. Tubman; past presidents of Nigeria, the Republic of Ghana, and Liberia respectively. Other notable members include: World famous scientist,George Washington Carver, the first black Rhodes Scholar Alain LeRoy Locke, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, Huey P. Newton, organizer of the Million Man March, Benjamin Chavis Muhammad, civil rights activists, Hosea Williams, Rev. Al Sharpton, musicians The Original Temptations, Ramsey Lewis, television personality Al Roker, and professional athletes Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith and Ryan Howard, the Philadelphia Phillies first baseman.From the ranks of the fraternity have come a number of pioneers in various fields. Member Dr. Frank Chambers was the first African-American to teach at Columbia University Dental School. Dr. Albert Roberts was the first minority to graduate with a PhD in Psychology from Emory University.

A number of buildings and schools have been named after Sigma men such as: George Washington Carver, Alain LeRoy Locke, Robert Russa Moton, Alger Boswell and James Weldon Johnson.

International presidents

Listed below are the thirty-three international presidents since the 1914 institution of the office


The city of Atlanta, Georgia has been selected to host the 2011 conclave
The Conclave is the legislative power of Phi Beta Sigma. During a conclave year, delegates representing all of the active chapters from within the seven regions of the fraternity meet in the chosen city. The conclave-or fraternity convention- is currently held biannually and usually hosted by the Graduate chapter(s) of the chosen city. During the convention, members of the General Board – the administrative body of the fraternity-are elected and appointed. The general board may act in the interest of the fraternity when the conclave is not in session. In addition, seminars, social events, concerts, an international Miss Phi Beta Sigma Pageant, Stepshow, and oratorical contests are also held during the week long conference. Throughout the years, notable individuals such as George Washington Carver, and Dr. Carter G. Woodson were speakers at past conclaves.

The Current General board is composed of The International President, First Vice-President, Second-Vice President, Treasurer, Director of Counsel, a Distinguished Service Chapter Representative, the regional directors, and the immediate past president. The office of Second-Vice President is the highest position on the general board for collegiate (undergraduate) members to hold. In addition, the editor-in-chief of The Crescent Magazine, directors of publicity and undergraduate affairs, and the National Executive Director make up the members of the General Board. The latter mentioned members are appointed to their positions and do not hold voting powers.

Distinguished Service Chapter members

Established at the 1929 Conclave, the Distinguished Service Chapter is the highest honor bestowed on a member of Phi Beta Sigma. Membership in the Distinguished Service Chapter must be recommended and approved by the awardees Chapter, Region, and by the General Board of the Fraternity prior to entry. One must meet the following criteria in order to be considered for this honor:

  • Active in the Fraternity for at least ten years
  • Has distinguished himself in the Fraternity and/or in his respective communities for extending exemplary service.

Brother Jesse W. Lewis holds the distinction of being voted in as the DSC's 1st member.

Below is a list of Distinguished Service Chapter Members:


The seven regions of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity both within the United States and Internationally.
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity organizes its chapters according to their regions in the United States and abroad. The seven regions are each led by a regional director and a regional board. A comprehensive list of regions is shown below:

  • Eastern (Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, the United States Virgin Islands, Africa, and Europe)
  • Great Lakes (Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa)
  • Gulf Coast (Louisiana and Texas)

  • Southeastern (North Carolina, South Carolina and all of Tennessee east of the 86th Longitude)
  • Southern (Alabama, Bahamas, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi)
  • Southwestern (Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and all of Tennessee west of the 86th Longitude)
  • Western (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and Asia)

The national programs

Phi Beta Sigma National Programs
Bigger and Better Business Project Vote
Project S.E.E.D. Phi Beta Sigma Capitol Hill Summit
National Program of Education Project S.A.T.A.P.P.
Project S.E.T. Sigma Wellness Project
Project S.W.W.A.C. The Sigma Beta Club
Clean Speech Movement Sigma Academy
Sleepout For The Homeless HIV/AIDS Awareness
Project S.A.D.A. Project S.A.S
Project S.E.R. Phi Beta Sigma National Marrow Donor Program
Sigma I.D. Day Phi Beta Sigma - "A Fraternity that Reads"
Phi Beta Sigma - "Buying Black and Giving Back"
Phi Beta Sigma aims their focuses on issues that greatly impact the African American community and the youth of the nation. The Phi Beta Sigma national programs of Bigger and Better Business, Education and Social Action are realized through the Fraternity's overarching program, Sigma Wellness, adopted in 2007. Through its national mentoring program for males ages 8–18, the organization provides opportunities for the development of young men as they prepare for college and the workforce.

The organization's partnerships with the American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Boy Scouts of America and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund speaks to its mission to address societal ills including health disparities and educational and developmental opportunities for young males.

Bigger and Better Business

As told by Dr. I.L. Scruggs (excerpts from Our Cause Speeds On):

"Philadelphia, 1924, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity 'arrived'. We had a mob of people at this Conclave. There were representatives from twenty-eight chapters -and all the trimmings. The introduction of the Bigger and Better Negro Business idea was made by way of an exhibit devoted to this topic.

The Bigger and Better Negro Business idea was first tested in 1924 with an imposing exhibition in Philadelphia. This was held in connection with the Conclave. Twenty-five leading Negro Businesses sent statements and over fifty sent exhibits. The whole show took place in the lobby of the YMCA. Several thousand visitors seemed to have been impressed. The response was so great that the 1925 Conclave in Richmond, Virginia voted unanimously to make Bigger and Better Negro Business the public program of the Fraternity, and it has been so ever since."

Phi Beta Sigma believes that the improvement and economic conditions of minorities is a major factor in the improvement of the general welfare of society. It is upon this conviction that the Bigger and Better Business Program rests. Since 1926, the Bigger and Better Business Program has been sponsored on a national scale by Phi Beta Sigma as a way of supporting, fostering, and promoting minority owned businesses and services.

The Bigger and Better Business serves as the an umbrella for other national initiatives involving business. The program's goals include supporting minority businesses, increasing communication with sigma brothers involved with business, and instilling sound business principals and practices to members of the community. Project S.E.E.D. (Sigma Economic Empowerment Development) is the foremost Bigger and Better Business Program. The program was developed to help the membership focus on two important areas: Financial Management and Home ownership.


The founders of Phi Beta Sigma were all educators in their own right. The genesis of the Education Program lies in the traditional emphasis that the fraternity places on Education. During the 1945 conclave in St. Louis, Missourimarker, the fraternity underwent a constitution restructuring which led to the birth of the Education as a National Program.

The National Program of Education focuses on programming and services to graduate and undergraduates in the fraternity. Programs such as scholarships, lectures, college fairs, mentoring, and tutoring enhance this program on local, regional and national levels.

Project S.E.T. (Sigma Education Time)is focused on increasing grade point averages and graduation rates of collegiates throughout the nation. The program aims to help with job readiness, choosing a career path {3-5 year outlook}, interviewing techniques, negotiating and entrepreneurship.

The Sigma Beta Club provides mentoring, guidance, educational tutorial assistance and advise to young men between ages 6 to 18. Created in 1950, it was the first youth auxiliary group of any of the National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations.

Social action

During the 20th anniversary of Sigma, the Committee on Public Policy urged that the fraternity come forth with a broadly-based program that would be addressed to the problems of the great masses of the Negro people. This new departure, in large measure, grew out of the experiences of the New York group. These men from Manhattan brought with them a new idea of Social Action.

Phi Beta Sigma has from its very beginning concerned itself with improving the general well-being of minority groups. In 1934, a well-defined program of Social Action was formulated and put into action. Elmo M. Anderson, then president of Epsilon Sigma Chapter (New York) formulated this program calling for the reconstruction of social order. It was a tremendous success. It fit in with the social thinking of the American public in those New Deal years.

In the winter of 1934, Sigma brothers Elmo Anderson, James W. Johnson, Emmett May and Bob Jiggets presented the Social Action proposition to the Conclave in Washington, D.C. The idea was adopted as a national program at the same conclave. Anderson is credited as "The Father of Social Action".

The fraternity's five main social action programs are Project Vote, Sigma Wellness, Sigma Presence on Capitol Hill, and projects S.W.W.A.C. & S.A.T.A.P.P.

Project S.W.W.A.C. (Sigmas Waging War Against Cancer) is a concentrated and coordinated effort to reduce the incidence of cancer in the African American community. Through a partnership with the American Cancer Society, the goal of Project S.W.W.A.C. is to increase awareness, with a strong emphasis on early detection and prevention of prostate and colorectal cancer.Project S.A.T.A.P.P. is a collaborative venture with the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation to address the alarming rise in teenage pregnancy. The Sigma Wellness Project is focused on living healthier lifestyles through education. The goal of Project Vote is to register and educate citizens and encourage members of the community to participate in the democratic process. The Sigma Presence on Capitol Hill Program is focused on presenting Sigma members the opportunity to discuss the many of the critical issues facing our communities with members of the U.S. Congress.

The Phi Beta Sigma History Museum

The Sigma History Museum was created by Mark "Mallet" Pacich with the express intent to dispel the discrepancies of the fraternity's history. Since 2001,with the help of countless members of Sigma, Family and Friends of Sigma, and the divine intervention of our Founders and Ancestors, members have uncovered some of the most rare and dynamic history of the fraternity to include; never before seen pictures of Founder Taylor, historical pictures from the 1914, 1915, and 1916 yearbooks at Howard University, original letters, Conclave Banners, and interviews with Decatur Morse (our Founder’s son), Samuel Proctor Massie II (our charter members son), Robert L. Pollard II (his father was Col. Robert L. Pollard who joined Sigma in 1919), and Dr. Gregory Tignor (his father was Madison Tignor who joined Sigma in 1919).

The Museum was first displayed in Orlandomarker in 2000. The members assisting in the original effort were Mark Pacich, Louis W. Lubin Jr. and Ahab El’Askeni. The initial goal was to collect as many newspaper articles, Crescent Magazines, Conclave Journals, autographs, pictures, etc. as possible. Since then, the Museum has been displayed in many cities including; Orlando, Philadelphia, Detroitmarker, Memphismarker, and Las Vegasmarker. The assets of the museum have grown since the initial display in 2000. The most coveted possession yet to be acquired are the first 2 issues of the Phi Beta Sigma Journal. The museum is only 14 issues away from having every Crescent magazine ever printed.

See also



External links

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