Zeta Phi Beta

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"ΖΦΒ" redirects here. For the fraternity in Puerto Rico, see Zeta Phi Beta (fraternity).
Zeta Phi Beta
Founded January 16, 1920; 96 years ago (1920-01-16)
Howard University
Washington, D.C., USA
Type Social
Emphasis Service
Scope International
Mission statement To foster the ideas of service, charity, scholarship, civil and cultural endeavors, sisterhood and finer womanhood. These ideals are reflected in the sorority's national program for which its members and auxiliary groups provide voluntary service to staff, community outreach programs, fund scholarships, support organized charities, and promote legislation for social and civic change.
Motto A community-conscious, action-oriented organization
Colors Royal Blue and White
Symbol Dove
Flower White Rose
Publication The Archon
Chapters 850[1]
Founding Principles Scholarship, Sisterhood (originally Sisterly Love), Service, Finer Womanhood
Headquarters 1734 New Hampshire Avenue NW
Washington, D.C., USA
Homepage www.zphib1920.org

Zeta Phi Beta (ΖΦΒ) is an international, historically black Greek-lettered sorority founded on January 16, 1920 by five collegiate women at Howard University. Zeta Phi Beta was founded on the simple belief that sorority elitism and socializing should not overshadow the real mission for progressive organizations – to address societal mores, ills, prejudices, poverty, and health concerns of the day.[2]

Zeta Phi Beta is organized into 800+ chapters, in eight intercontinental regions including the USA, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean.[3] In 1948, Zeta Phi Beta became the first Greek-letter organization to charter a chapter in Africa (in Monrovia, Liberia).[2][4] It was also the first organization to establish adult and youth auxiliary groups and centralize its operations in a national headquarters.[2][3] Today, there are also chapters in U.S. Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Bahamas, Japan, Korea, Barbados, and Haiti.

Zeta Phi Beta is the only National Pan-Hellenic Council ("NPHC") sorority that is constitutionally bound to a fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma.[2] The sorority maintains affiliations with several organizations including the NPHC, American Diabetes Association, March of Dimes, American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, National Council of Negro Women, and the United Negro College Fund.[5][6]


The early beginnings of Zeta Phi Beta[edit]

The Five Pearls of Zeta Phi Beta".
The Founders of Zeta Phi Beta were five collegiate students of Howard University. They are known to the members of the sorority as "The Five Pearls".[2]

Arizona Cleaver (Stemons): Arizona Cleaver was the first president of Alpha chapter and the first national president of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. She completed her graduate and post-graduate studies in the field of social work and was responsible for chartering numerous undergraduate and graduate chapters throughout the United States.

Myrtle Tyler (Faithful): Myrtle Tyler was the second national president of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and blood sister to Viola Tyler. A high school mathematics and English teacher, Founder Tyler was an active member of Alpha Zeta chapter in Baltimore, Maryland.

Viola Tyler (Goings): Viola Tyler graduated from Howard University with a teaching degree and a major in math. She taught school in Ohio for many years and was always very active in community affairs.

Fannie Pettie (Watts): Fannie Pettie graduated from Howard with a Bachelor of Arts degree in education and taught junior and senior high schools in Savannah, Georgia. She was credited with organizing two additional Zeta chapters and had active membership in Delta Alpha Zeta chapter.

Pearl Anna Neal: After graduating from Howard University's Conservatory of Music, Founder Neal continued her studies at the Juilliard School of Music. In 1938, she was the first black woman in New York to earn a master's degree in music from Columbia University. An extremely accomplished musician, Founder Neal taught music in North Carolina public schools and served as a director of seniors majoring in music at Teachers College in Winston-Salem, NC.

In the spring of 1919, during a stroll on the campus of Howard University, Charles Robert Samuel Taylor, member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, shared with Arizona Cleaver his idea for a new sisterhood; a sister organization to his fraternity. Arizona presented this idea to Pearl Neal, Myrtle Tyler, Viola Tyler, and Fannie Pettie, and a new sisterhood was formed.[7]

Arizona Cleaver sought permission from the Howard University administration to establish a new campus sorority. That permission was granted, and on January 16, 1920 the first official meeting was held. The five coeds chose the name Zeta Phi Beta. Phi Beta was taken from Phi Beta Sigma to "seal and signify the relationship between the two organizations".[7]

The newly established Zeta Phi Beta Sorority was given a formal introduction at Whitelaw Hotel by Phi Beta Sigma members Charles Robert Samuel Taylor and A. Langston Taylor. The two Sigma brothers had been a source of advice and encouragement during the establishment of the sorority and throughout its early days.[7]

Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta Sororities held a "Welcome to Campus" reception in the assembly room in Miner Hall, in honor of the new sorority.[7]

Later that year, in December 1920, the sorority held the first boule (convention) with members of Phi Beta Sigma at Howard University.[8] The Archon, the sorority's official magazine was established shortly afterwards.[8] Later Boules were held in many locations across the United States.

Zeta Phi Beta was first incorporated on March 30, 1923 in Washington, D.C. by sorority members Myrtle Tyler, Gladys Warrington, Joanna Houston, Josephine Johnson and O. Goldia Smith.[9] The sorority was incorporated by the state of Illinois in 1939.[9]

In 1923, the first chapter of any black sorority to organize a collegiate chapter in Texas, Theta chapter, was established at Wiley College.[4]

In 1959, Zeta Phi Beta purchased its current headquarters, located at 1734 New Hampshire Avenue NW on Dupont Circle in Washington, DC.[7]

Two Phi Beta Sigma members, A. Langston Taylor and Charles Taylor, were instrumental in helping Zeta Phi Beta become established.[2]

Recent history[edit]

Held annually, Zeta Day on the Hill provides an opportunity for Zetas to exercise another level of civic responsibility by learning the protocols for interacting with and the knowledge needed to maximize engagement with congressional representatives. As members of a "Community Conscious-Action Oriented" organization, Zetas schedule meetings with their representative or their representative's designee to discuss, during brief sessions, issues of interest to the local, state and national Zeta membership.[10]

On January 25, 2001, Zeta Phi Beta was granted Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status with the United Nations.[11]

In 2005, Zeta Phi Beta completed its $2 million renovation project of the international headquarters. The historic building has served as Zeta's home since its purchase in 1959. [12]

In December 2010 the sorority officially partnered with Stevie Wonder to collect toys for his annual House Full of Benefit Concert. All of the sorority's 850 chapters signed on to collect toys for the program.[1]


Following a February 5, 2006 news report by WJLA, an ABC affiliated TV station, the U.S.'s Internal Revenue Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and United States Attorney opened an investigation into alleged financial irregularities occurring in the sorority.[13] The purpose of the investigation was to determine if National President Barbara C. Moore had obtained funds from the tax-exempt organization for personal gain.[13] During the investigation, sorority member and former National Executive Board member, Natasha Stark was expelled for "violating her duty of loyalty to the sorority, engaging in conduct injurious to the sorority or its purposes, and unsisterly conduct."[13] on March 20, 2007, Starks filed a lawsuit with the District of Columbia District Court requesting $1 million in damages.[14] Stark's claims for breach of contract and negligence were dismissed at a September 11, 2008 status conference.[15]

Entertainer Sheryl Underwood was elected as the 23rd International Grand Basileus (President), during the sorority's biennial business meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2008. Her election as Grand Basileus was disputed, but District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Gerald I. Fisher dismissed a lawsuit against the sorority and Underwood, that asked the court to unseat Underwood.[16][17][18]

On July 3, 2008, Lorrie Sinclair filed a Diversity-Breach of Contract suit in the District of Columbia District Court against Zeta Phi Beta demanding $76,000.[19]

In August 2009, the sorority chapter at Colorado State University was expelled from the campus after allegations of hazing surfaced.[20]

On August 12, 2010, Coastal Carolina University, located near Myrtle Beach, SC, suspended its chapter of Zeta Phi Beta sorority for five years after being found in violation of the university's hazing policy, according to a release from CCU. According to information gathered through an investigation by the CCU's Office of Student Conduct, the sorority violated the policy regarding new member processes, the release said. The terms of the suspension encompass all activities, including new member processes, meetings, community service and social events. After the suspension has expired, Zeta Phi Beta may petition CCU to recognize the sorority for the fall 2015 semester.[21]

Official auxiliary organizations[edit]


Zeta Phi Beta was founded on the principles of Scholarship, Service, Sisterly Love, and Finer Womanhood and the precepts that "elitism and socializing had overshadowed the real mission of sororities-to address and correct the problems of society, particularly, those plaguing the African-American community."

The Amicae group is composed of women who have not obtained a college degree, but wish to assist Zeta Phi Beta members in local activities. Currently there are over 175 Amicae groups in the U.S. The first Amicae group was organized in Omaha, Nebraska in 1947 by the Beta Psi Zeta chapter.[3]


The Archonettes are composed of young high school-aged ladies (age 14 to 18).[3] Each Archonette group is affiliated with a local graduate chapter of Zeta Phi Beta.[22]


The Amicettes are composed of girls age 9 to 13.[3] Each Amicettes group is affiliated with a local chapter of Zeta Phi Beta.[22]


The Pearlettes are composed of young girls age 4 to 8.[3] Pearlettes are mentored by members of Zeta Phi Beta.[22]

Zeta Male Network[edit]

The Zeta Male Network is the title given to the support organization that includes males in the lives of members of Zeta Phi Beta.[3]

Signature programs[edit]

National Educational Foundation[edit]

National Educational Foundation objectives

The objectives of the Foundation, as set forth in the Trust Agreement and in By-Laws adopted by the Board of Managers, are:[23]

  • to award scholarship grants to worthy students for the pursuit of higher education;
  • to conduct community education programs which will aid individual and community living standards;
  • to engage in other educational activities which will aid in the development of all women; and
  • to engage in any appropriate research related to the purposes of the Foundation.

The National Educational Foundation of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. is a 501(c)3 trust organization created in 1975 and operated by Zeta Phi Beta to oversee the sorority's charitable and educational activities.[23][24] The trust awards scholarship grants, conducts community educational programs and activities, and engages in Foundation scholarship related research.[24]

The Foundation partnered with Xavier University of New Orleans, The Consumer Health Foundation, the MidAtlantic Cancer Genetics Network, the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, and The Family Life Center of Shiloh Baptist Church and presented conferences on human genome research in Washington, D. C., Atlanta Georgia, New Orleans, Louisiana, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Chicago, Illinois.[25]

Stork's Nest[edit]

The Stork's Nest prenatal education sessions provide information, educational materials, and a variety of other resources and referrals that help clients take good care of themselves and their babies.

Since 1971, Zeta Phi Beta has enjoyed a partnership with the March of Dimes in an effort to encourage women to seek prenatal care within the first trimester of pregnancy, thereby increasing the prevention of birth defects and infant mortality.[26] Known as the Stork's Nest Program, this collaboration encourages participation and healthy behaviors during the pregnancy through two components - incentives and education. Targeted to low-income pregnant women, the Stork's Nest clients "earn" points toward incentives, such as maternity or baby care items, through a variety activities such as attending prenatal care appointments, participating in prenatal education classes, or keeping appointments for well-baby visits.[26] Nationwide, Zeta Phi Beta sponsors over 175 Stork's Nests. In 1997, during the celebration of the 25th anniversary of collaboration with the March of Dimes, the program was updated to include a new national logo, new educational materials, and new incentive items for those mothers participating in the program. As of 2005, the Stork's Nest Program has served over 28,000 women.


The goal of Z-H.O.P.E. (Zetas Helping Other People Excel) is to positively impact the lives of people at all stages of the human life cycle.[27]

Z-HOPE (Zetas Helping Other People Excel) is an international service initiative, introduced by the sorority's 22nd International Grand Basileus Barbara C. Moore.

Z-HOPE has six objectives. They are:

  • To provide culturally appropriate informational activities according to the Z-HOPE program format
  • To foster collaborative partnerships between community organizations with shared goals
  • To promote the opportunities for expansion in Stork's Nest programs
  • To facilitate community service and mentorship opportunities for members of the organization
  • To provide an equitable chapter recognition program for community services rendered, and
  • To provide a standard reporting format to concentrate efforts and demonstrate the organization's impact[28]

To date, more than 750,000 individuals have participated in Z-HOPE related activities and programs.[27]

Zeta Organizational Leadership Program (ZOL)[edit]

The Zeta Organizational Leadership Program is a leadership training certification program developed by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. The overarching goal of the ZOL program is to provide members of Zeta Phi Beta with the essential leadership knowledge and skills.

The target audiences for ZOL includes, but are not limited to:

  • Members aspiring to be national elected officers
  • Members interested in being appointed regional and/or state directors
  • Local chapter officers—undergraduate and graduate
  • Elected regional and state officers
  • Advisors to undergraduate chapters
  • Sponsors and coordinators of Zeta Amicae Auxiliaries
  • Advisors to Youth Affiliates
  • Members aspiring to be leaders.

Hazing culture[edit]

In 1999, members of the sorority were temporarily banned from the campus of the University of South Florida due to hazing and beating pledges.[29]

In 2009, the sorority was permanently banned from the campus of Colorado State University after the school's leadership received a police report that stated pledges were forced to eat cat food and perform strenuous activities which led one pledge to seek medical attention.[30]

In 2011, seven members of the sorority were arrested for beating and severely bruising pledges at the University of Maryland.[31]

In 2012, a student at the University of California at Berkeley sued the sorority. In her lawsuit, she stated that she initially was informed that Zeta Phi Beta was an anti-hazing sorority but when she finally decided to pursue membership she endured beatings, harassment, and suffered emotionally as a pledge because of Zeta women.[32]

In 2014, the chapter at the University of Memphis was suspended for three years for hazing pledges. One known pledge was forced to seek medical attention because of abuse by women in the sorority.[33]

See also[edit]

This article is a part of a series on
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority
See also:
Fraternities and Sororities Wikiproject


  1. ^ a b Bland, Bridget (2010-12-08). "Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Joins Stevie Wonder For Christmas Toy Drive". Black Voices Entertainment Newswire. AOL Inc. Retrieved 2010-12-15. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Heritage". Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Membership". Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  4. ^ a b "Expansion Patterns". Retrieved 2008-01-02. 
  5. ^ "About the National Pan-Hellenic Council". nphchq.org. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  6. ^ "Partnerships & Affiliations". Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Harrison, Lullelia W. "Lovers' Stroll – A Legacy Begins". Torchbearers of a Legacy: A History of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. 1920 – 1997. p. 2.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Torchbearers" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Torchbearers" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Torchbearers" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Torchbearers" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  8. ^ a b Parks, Gregory S.; Julianne Malveaux; Marc Morial (2008). Black Greek-letter Organizations in the Twenty-first Century. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 107–113. ISBN 0-8131-2491-3. 
  9. ^ a b "Incorporators". Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  10. ^ http://zphib1920.org/zdayonthehill/about.html
  11. ^ "United Nations NGO Status". Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. 2011-01-25. Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  12. ^ "85th Anniversary - Dignitaries and Members Pay Tribute to Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc." (pdf). Gail Cureton, Director Marketing Communications/PR - Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Retrieved 2012-07-25. 
  13. ^ a b c "Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Expels Whistleblower, Refuses to Cooperate with Federal Investigation". 2007-02-17. Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  14. ^ "STARK v. ZETA PHI BETA SORORITY, INC.". Justia.com: Federal District Court Filings & Dockets. Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  15. ^ STARK v. ZETA PHI BETA SORORITY, INC., 2007cv00553 (District of Columbia District Court).
  16. ^ "Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated Elects Entertainer Sheryl Underwood 23rd International President". Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. 2008-07-07. 
  17. ^ Alexander, Keith L. (2008-08-16). "Comedian Fights to Retain Presidency of Sorority". washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post Company. Retrieved 2008-08-19. 
  18. ^ "Judge rules in favor of comedian in sorority". San Jose Mercury News. The Associated Press. 2008-11-25. Retrieved 2009-02-03. 
  19. ^ "SINCLAIR v. ZETA PHI BETA SORORITY, INC.". Justia.com: Federal District Court Filings & Dockets. Retrieved 2008-11-25. 
  20. ^ Hooker, Mike (2009-08-29). "Sorority At CSU Expelled For Hazing Allegations". Colorado & Denver News. CBS Television Stations Inc. Retrieved 2010-01-30. 
  21. ^ Grooms, Vicki (2010-08-12). "Coastal Carolina University suspends sorority". TheSunNews.com. The Sun News. 
  22. ^ a b c "Youth Affiliates". Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  23. ^ a b "30th Foundation Anniversary Journal" (PDF). The National Educational Foundation of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  24. ^ a b "National Educational Foundation". Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  25. ^ "Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated National Educational Foundation African-American Genetics Education Project" (pdf). The National Educational Foundation of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  26. ^ a b "Zeta Phi Beta and March of Dimes team up for babies" (doc). Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. 2004-10-15. Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  27. ^ a b "Moore to Continue Leading Zeta Phi Beta" (pdf). Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. 2006-08-07. Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  28. ^ "Z-HOPE - Zetas Helping Other People Excel". Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  29. ^ washingtoncitypaper.com/articles/17524/greek-tragedy
  30. ^ http://www.nbcnews.com/id/32594722/ns/us_news-life/t/sorority-accused-making-pledges-eat-cat-food/#.VgN2hPlViko
  31. ^ http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2011/03/seven_zeta_phi_beta_members_face_assault_and_hazing_charges.html
  32. ^ http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2011/03/seven_zeta_phi_beta_members_face_assault_and_hazing_charges.html
  33. ^ http://www.dailyhelmsman.com/archives/sorority-forced-into-three-year-hiatus/article_4ef50e7f-76e3-51ed-a611-2e39ef61779f.html

External links[edit]