In 1920, during a time of heightened racial violence, the fight for women’s voting rights and the movement of Black artists and writers, five exceptional women at Howard University founded Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. Birthed from the same need for community as the fraternities and sororities founded years before, Zeta Phi Beta became a soft place to land for Black women who were fighting for change. The founders “envisioned a sorority that would directly affect positive change, chart a course of action for the 1920s and beyond, raise people’s consciousness, encourage the highest standards of scholastic achievement, and foster a greater sense of unity among its members.” Zeta Phi Beta Sorority now has hundreds of chapters worldwide and 100,000+ members.
In partnership with Hyundai, we had a chance to talk with two current members, gospel singer Lexi Allen and Founder of Mess in a Bottle Kalilah Wright, about what the success of sisterhood looks like and the evolution of their divine journey. Allen reminisced on her experiences before joining the sorority, calling Zetas “the coolest girls” while Wright spoke on her experience as a member, referring to them as big sisters who “not only supported her journey in entrepreneurship but her journey in life.”
The ladies continued by naming other finer women of Zeta, including Zora Neale Hurston, who joined the sorority’s Alpha Chapter while attending Howard University from 1918-1920, Dionne Warwick, who became an honorary member in 1978, and Dr. Sheryl P. Underwood, who joined the sorority in 1990 and was elected as the 23rd International President in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2008, holding her office until 2012. She also served as President of the Omicron Rho Zeta chapter, the National Chair of Honorary Members, and the National Executive Board Chair.
Wright concluded by sharing that her divine journey has taught her that sometimes things will be a mess. “What you have to do is figure out ‘what is the message?’ What way can you use it to empower you, drive you, change the outcome of what it could’ve become and that is how I have made my mess beautiful.”
Check out Because of Them We Can’s “Divine Journeys” presented by Hyundai below: