What happens when a people is without institutions to articulate its concerns,
preserve its heritage, or make manifest its desires?  It is vanquished, made into
an oppressed caste, or is assimilated into the majority culture--losing its
distinctiveness, diminishing its voice, and dissipating its ranks.  Fortunately,
African Americans have not met this fate.  ASALH has chosen to devote the 2006
National Black History Theme to exploring the impact that Black fraternal, social,
and civic organizations have had on the evolution of African American life and
history.  This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the first
continuous, collegiate black Greek letter fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha.  Established
in an age when racial segregation and disenfranchisement plagued African
Americans, the rise of each of the black fraternities and sororities that make up
the "Divine Nine" bore witness to the fact that despite hardships African
Americans refused to assent to a status of inferiority.  Serving more than just
their immediate members, the "Divine Nine" joined with the National Association
of Colored Women's Clubs, the Prince Hall Masons, and Eastern Stars, the Urban
League, and other civic organizations to provide service to the entire black
community.  As the twentieth century progressed, black social organizations like
Jack and Jill rose to reflect the middle class aspirations of many African
Americans, and more recently civic groups such as the Links, the Rainbow/PUSH
Coalition and 100 Black Men have emerged to address the community's social,
economic, and political challenges.

Most American recognize the centrality of African American religious institutions
in the formation of community.  In contrast, too little attention has been paid to
the full spectrum of black organizations.  While the Black Church has served as a
rock in a weary land, African American fraternal, social, and civic organizations
have also aided the community in its efforts to draw sweet honey from the rock of
the their American experience.
You will find
Theme Products
for sale in The
ASALH Store.  
Use the ASALH
Store tab on
either menu on
this page.
The 2006 Black History Theme
Celebrating Community: A Tribute to Black
Fraternal, Social and Civic Institutions
Founders of Black History Month