2/26/21 - A Message from Secretary Hou: Black History Month - Celebrating Culture

We are closing out our Black History Month celebration focusing on CHANGE!

"I am and always will be a catalyst for change." Shirley Chisolm, Delta Sigma Theta

"Don't just aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference." Denzel Washington, Omega Psi Phi

In rounding out our celebration of Black History, we celebrate CHANGE with a focus on the history of Black sororities and fraternities, and how they foster sisterhood and brotherhood in the pursuit to bring about social change through the development of social programs that create positive change for Black people and the country.

Since their inception, for 115 years, Black sororities and fraternities have been addressing issues that impact the Black community, promoting service, scholarship, and fellowship to each other and to their communities. The groups provided a network of support and a collective voice in the civil rights movement, past and present.

They are commonly known as The Divine 9, and you can read more about these historic organizations by visiting our CELEBRATING CHANGE page.

  • Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity: First of All, Servants of All, We Shall Transcend All
  • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority: By Culture and By Merit
  • Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity: Training for Leadership since 1911
  • Omega Psi Phi Fraternity: Friendship is Essential to the Soul
  • Delta Sigma Theta Sorority: Intelligence is the Torch of Wisdom
  • Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity: Culture for Service and Service for Humanity
  • Zeta Phi Beta Sorority: Scholarship, Sisterly Love, Service, Finer Womanhood
  • Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority: Greater Service, Greater Progress
  • Iota Phi Theta: Building A Tradition, Not Resting Upon One

Some of Illinois' very own leaders are members of a Black sorority or fraternity:

  • First Black person elected to statewide office in Illinois, serving first as Comptroller and then as Attorney General, Former US. Senator Roland Burris, Alpha Phi Alpha
  • Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, Alpha Kappa Alpha
  • Secretary of State Jesse White, Kappa Alpha Psi
  • Attorney General Kwame Raoul, Kappa Alpha Psi
  • House Speaker Emmanuel "Chris" Welch, Alpha Phi Alpha

Visit our CELEBRATING CHANGE page for a special message from Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.

We also recognize the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Black Panther Party, and the Urban League, all organizations that worked to galvanize grassroots community efforts and demanded change to take place locally and nationally for people of color.

Let's all continue to work within and serve our COMMUNITY, recognize the significant impact our CULTURE has had on society, and Lift Our Voices for continued CHANGE for ourselves and future generations.

Next week, we will begin celebrating Women's History Month, showcasing great women across history with the theme Game Changers: HERstory. If you are interested in participating in planning and content creation for that or any other Heritage Month (Asian American and Pacific Islander, Hispanic Heritage, Disability Awareness, PRIDE, and more) email DHS.EquityRacialJustice@illinois.gov and please share your name, area of interest, division/office, and location.

On behalf of the Black History Month Committee and Office of Strategy, Equity, and Transformation I would like to thank you for celebrating Black History Month with us as we "Lifted Our Voices- Celebrating Community, Culture and Change."

Thanks for joining us in celebration!



Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS