Sigma Pi Phi

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Sigma Pi Phi
Founded 1904
Philadelphia Pennsylvania
Type Social
Scope International
Colors Pantone 3015 (BLUE)
Symbol Unknown
Chapters 126
Headquarters Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Sigma Pi Phi (ΣΠΦ) is the first successful and oldest African-American Greek-lettered organization. Sigma Pi Phi was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on May 15, 1904. The fraternity quickly established chapters (referred to as "member boulés"[A]) in Chicago, IL and then Baltimore, MD.[1] The founders included two doctors, a dentist and a physician.[2] When Sigma Pi Phi was founded, black professionals were not offered participation in the professional and cultural associations organized by the white community.[3] Sigma Pi Phi has over 5,000 members and 126 chapters throughout the United States and the West Indies.[4]



Membership in Sigma Pi Phi is highly exclusive, numbering only about 5,000.[5] The organization is known as "the Boulé," which means "a council of noblemen".[6] Founded as an organization for professionals, Sigma Pi Phi never established college chapters, and eliminated undergraduate membership during its infant stages.[7] However, Sigma Pi Phi has historically had a congenial relationship with college Black Greek-letter organizations, as many members of Sigma Pi Phi are members of both. Sigma Pi Phi founder Henry McKee Minton and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were both members of Alpha Phi Alpha, while Arthur Ashe was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi. Vernon Jordan and L. Douglas Wilder are members of Omega Psi Phi. James Weldon Johnson was a member of Phi Beta Sigma, as is civil rights leader and member of Congress John Lewis (D-GA). University of Massachusetts-Boston Chancellor, Dr. J. Keith Motley, and Hibernia Southcoast Capital CEO (Retired), Joseph Williams are members of Iota Phi Theta. Members of Sigma Pi Phi have provided leadership and service during the Great Depression, World War I, World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, and addressed social issues such as urban housing, and other economic, cultural, and political issues affecting people of African descent.

Notable members[edit]

Members of Sigma Pi Phi include LeBron James- 3 time MVP with 3 Rings, co-founder of the NAACP[8] W. E. B. Du Bois, Civil Rights Leader, Rev. Martin Luther King, Former NAACP President Kweisi Mfume, former United Nations Ambassador Ralph Bunche, former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson, former Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder, American Express President Kenneth Chenault, Bobby Scott, C. O. Simpkins, Sr., Ken Blackwell, United States Attorney General Eric Holder,[9] Ron Brown, Vernon Jordan, Arthur Ashe, Mel Watt,[10] and John Baxter Taylor, Jr., the first African-American to win an Olympic Gold Medal.[11] Numerous other American leaders are among the men who have adopted the fraternity’s purpose of "creating a forum wherein they could pursue social and intellectual activities in the company of peers."[3] Sigma Pi Phi is also open to members of all races, as can be demonstrated by its well known Jewish member Jack Greenberg who succeeded Thurgood Marshall as General Counsel of the NAACP.[12] Lawrence Otis Graham talks about the organization, and his membership, in his book Our Kind of People: Inside America's Black Upper Class'(1999).[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The word boulé, derived from ancient Greek βουλή, originally referred to a council of nobles advising a king. It is also used by the African-American sorority Alpha Chi Omega.

External links[edit]