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The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities.

The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities by Lawrence C. Ross, Jr. Kensington Books, 1999, $16.00, ISBN 1-575-66634-0

Ross' title refers to the nine black "Greek" organizations currently existing under the National Panhellenic Council. Ross and his wife, both Greeks, felt the community needed a comprehensive text from which to draw, one that explored these organizations in depth as a group, while also focusing on each one's individuality and unique approach to social and political activism.

Ross is thorough in his rendering of background details for each organization, and provides extensive information on each group's founders, chapter histories and notable members. Although this is a history book targeted toward a niche market, Ross' concise writing makes The Divine Nine accessible to non-Greeks who may be interested in either joining a particular organization or are just curious about the groups' contributions to their community.

One of the most noteworthy sections highlights conversations with well-known members, including author and television personality Motherlove (Sigma Gamma Rho), economist and author Julianne Malveaux, Ph.D. (Delta Sigma Theta) and television writer and producer Yvette Lee Bowser (Alpha Kappa Alpha). Ross' collection of vintage photos depicting various organizations' "Pledge Clubs," and highlights of members performing community service throughout the years will strike a sentimental chord with black Greeks.

His text covers a lot of ground, and at times may seem formulaic or repetitive. Yet this is a minor criticism for a needed history book that accomplishes so much. There is an abundance of information for African Americans who yearn to know more about these organizations and how, in different manners, they all strive to achieve the same divine goal: to uplift, inspire and educate.

Nira Hyman lives in Brooklyn, New York and is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Hyman, Nira
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2001
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