NAACP Hosts Divine Nine Panel

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) at the University of New Haven hosted a Divine Nine panel on taking political action in the Alumni Lounge on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 8:00pm.

There were six panelists, each from a different organization of the Divine Nine. The Divine Nine are the historically black Greek letter organizations that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

NAACP President Arely Parra Lopez, started by asking the panelists what made them decide to join their respective organization, and if prior to becoming a university student, they had been affected by any of the Divine Nine organizations.

Katia Bogwell, sister of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. from Southern Connecticut State University, said that becoming a sister, “enhanced the person that I am.” She said that the Zetas matched her work ethic, and that she also grew up having no sisters in her family.

Panelists were asked what makes their organization stand out from the other eight of the Divine Nine, and if stereotypes affect the overall image of the Divine Nine. Members of the panel said that stereotypes do not define them, and that by joining these organizations they are able to debunk the stereotypes.

Panelists were also asked about how their respective organizations assisted with the civil rights movement and other related movements during the 1900s to push for change. They were also asked what actions their organizations have taken for the betterment of society in the United States. The panelists all spoke about how they partner with the NAACP, and that they strive for more voter education for youth voters.

“We teach students how to think, not what to think,” said Olafemi Hunter, brother of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., who is currently a guidance counselor at James Hillhouse High School in New Haven, CT.

The panelists were also asked about their biggest challenge motivating people to be politically active within their own organization or in the community.

“Reminding people that you and your voice matter,” said Taylor Darville, brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and an alumni of the University of New Haven.

“Your vote is your voice,” said Amaris Topper, sister of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and resident of New Haven, Conn.

The panelists also spoke about how important it is to get information about the political climate and be educated about history. The panelists closed the event by saying that it’s important to remember to look beyond the Greek letters, and instead promote all of their collective values and the model of the Divine Nine to better the community.