Zeta Phi Beta
FoundedJanuary 16, 1920; 103 years ago (1920-01-16)
Howard University
Washington, D.C., USA
EmphasisAfrican American
Mission statementTo 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.
MottoA community-conscious, action-oriented organization
ColorsRoyal Blue and White
FlowerWhite Rose
PublicationThe Archon
NicknamesZetas, ZPhiB, Finer Women
Founding PrinciplesScholarship, Service, Sisterhood, and Finer Womanhood
Headquarters1734 New Hampshire Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20009

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. (ΖΦΒ) is a historically African American sorority. In 1920, five women from Howard University envisioned a sorority that would raise the consciousness of their people, encourage the highest standards of scholastic achievement, and foster a greater sense of unity among its members. These women believed that sorority elitism and socializing overshadowed the real mission for progressive organizations. Since its founding Zeta Phi Beta has historically focused on addressing social causes.[2]

Zeta Phi Beta is a non-profit 501(c)(7) organization that is divided into eight intercontinental regions and 800+ Chapters located in the US, 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). Zeta Phi Beta is the third largest predominantly African-American sorority.[2][4]

Zeta Phi Beta and Phi Beta Sigma are the only constitutionally bound sorority and fraternity in the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC)



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 Anna Neal, Myrtle Tyler, Viola Tyler, and Fannie Pettie, and a new sisterhood was formed.[5]

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 students chose the name Zeta Phi Beta. Phi Beta was taken from Phi Beta Sigma to "seal and signify the relationship between the two organizations".[6]

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.[10]

The "Five Pearls"

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".


Zeta Phi Beta was the first to charter a chapter in Africa (Monrovia, Liberia). Today, there are also chapters in U.S. Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Bahamas, Japan, Korea, Barbados, Haiti, Germany, Belgium, United Arab Emirates, Trinidad/Tobago and most recently Accra, Ghana. [12] Zeta Phi Beta was the first organization under the National Pan-Hellenic Council to have a national headquarters for all operations.[12] Zeta Phi Beta is the first and only NPHC organization to be constitutionally bound to a fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated.[12] Zeta Phi Beta is the first sorority in the National Pan-Hellenic Council to organize an auxiliary group.[12]


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.[13]

On January 25, 2001, Zeta Phi Beta was granted non-governmental organization (NGO) status with the United Nations.[14]

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. [15]

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 based in D.C., the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and United States Attorney opened an investigation into alleged financial irregularities occurring with the sorority's National President Barbara C. Moore. Sorority member and National Executive Board member Natasha Stark was the whistleblower that notified WJLA of the president's wrongdoings. Moore admitted to using sorority funds for personal expenses such as clothes, shoes, jewelry, food, liquor, etc. but disputed the figures reported by WJLA. Despite her admission, the sorority's board of directors refused to remove her from office defying organization by-laws, attempted to suppress information reported by WJLA, and refused to fully cooperate with the FBI and IRS.[16] The sorority's board of directors initially tried to resolve the matter privately by asking the president to sign a promissory note to repay over $300,000 of sorority funds used for personal expenses back to the sorority but that dissatisfied Stark.[17][18] The purpose of the investigation was to determine if the president had obtained funds from the tax-exempt organization for personal gain which violated IRS codes.[18] In retaliation for contacting WJLA, 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."[18] on March 20, 2007, Stark filed a lawsuit with the District of Columbia District Court requesting $1 million in damages.[19] Stark's claims for breach of contract and negligence were dismissed at a September 11, 2008 status conference.[20]

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 by some members as illegitimate, 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.[21][22][23]

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.[24]

In August 2009, the sorority chapter at Colorado State University was expelled from the campus after disturbing police reports of hazing surfaced.[25]

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.[26]

In 2011, the chapter at the University of Maryland - College Park was placed under heavy scrutiny when a former pledge reported to authorities the serious abuse she endured from members of the organization. Seven members of the chapter were arrested for assault.[27] The University of Maryland - College Park, as with most U.S. institutions, had a zero tolerance hazing policy that was communicated to all active members of the university's Greek system.[28]

In 2012, a student at the University of California at Berkeley sued the sorority after experiencing hazing so disturbing and humiliating that she dropped out of school. She was initially reassured by members of the sorority that prospective members are not hazed, however she eventually learned that was a lie. In her lawsuit, she stated she had her head slammed into a wall, her pockets ripped from her jeans, she was beat over the head while being forced to recite the sorority's history, forced to clean up juice with only her back, and was subject to other illegal hazing activities.[29][30]

In 2014, the sorority at the University of Memphis was given a three-year suspension for physically abusing and harassing pledges. One known pledge's nose was broken after being repeatedly hit in the face by several Zetas. Two Zetas identified in a police report as being extremely abusive towards pledges dropped out the university soon after the suspension was announced.[31]

Official auxiliary organizations


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.[32][33]


The Archonettes are composed of young high school-aged ladies (age 14 to 18) who demonstrate an interest in the goals and the ideals of scholarship, sisterly love, and community service.[32] Each Archonette group is affiliated with a local graduate chapter of Zeta Phi Beta.[34]


The Amicettes are composed of girls age 9 to 13 who are willing to strive toward the high ideals of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and who demonstrate potential for leadership in service to the community. .[32] Each Amicettes group is affiliated with a local chapter of Zeta Phi Beta.[34]


The Pearlettes are composed of young girls age 4 to 8.[32] Pearlettes are mentored by members of Zeta Phi Beta to become outstanding leaders in their communities.[34]

Zeta Male Network

The Zeta Male Network is the title given to the support organization that includes males in the lives of members of Zeta Phi Beta.[32]

National programs

National Educational Foundation

The objectives of the Foundation, as set forth in the Trust Agreement and in By-Laws adopted by the Board of Managers, are:[35]

  • 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.[35][36] The trust awards scholarship grants, conducts community educational programs and activities, and engages in Foundation scholarship related research.[36]

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.[37][38]

Stork's Nest

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.[39] Known as the Stork's Nest Program, this collaboration encourages participation and healthy behaviors during the pregnancy through two components - incentives and education.[39] 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.[40] This is through doing hard work and community service.

Since 1920, our national service programs have evolved to meet the critical societal needs of the time. This administration has identified some key areas of concern as part of our programmatic thrust, and all of our efforts will be consolidated under the banner of Z-HOPE.

—former Zeta International Grand Basileus Barbara C. Moore

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 date, more than 750,000 individuals have participated in Z-HOPE related activities and programs.[40]

Zeta Organizational Leadership Program (ZOL)

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:



National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys

The Estate and Long Term Care Planning, Inc.


Main article: List of Zeta Phi Beta chapters

Notable members

Main article: List of Zeta Phi Beta sisters

See also


  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 "Heritage". Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Archived from the original on 2008-09-15. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
  3. ^ "About Us | Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc". www.zphib1920.org. Retrieved 2016-04-18.
  4. ^ a b "Expansion Patterns". Archived from the original on 2008-01-10. Retrieved 2008-01-02.
  5. ^ Harrison, Lullelia W. "Lovers' Stroll – A Legacy Begins". Torchbearers of a Legacy: A History of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. 1920 – 1997. p. 2.
  6. ^ Harrison, Lullelia W. "Lovers' Stroll – A Legacy Begins". Torchbearers of a Legacy: A History of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. 1920 – 1997. p. 3.
  7. ^ a b Harrison, Lullelia W. "Lovers' Stroll – A Legacy Begins". Torchbearers of a Legacy: A History of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. 1920 – 1997. p. 4.
  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 978-0-8131-2491-9.
  9. ^ a b "Incorporators". Archived from the original on 2008-09-15. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
  10. ^ Harrison, Lullelia W. "A Focus on Education: Deborah Cannon (Partridge Wolfe 1953-65". Torchbearers of a Legacy: A History of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. 1920 – 1997. p. 59.
  11. ^ Parks, Gregory S. (2008-06-13). Black Greek-Letter Organizations in the 21st Century: Our Fight Has Just Begun. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0-8131-3872-5.
  12. ^ a b c d History, Zeta. "Our History". zphib1920.org.
  13. ^ "About Zeta Day on the Hill". Archived from the original on 16 April 2013.
  14. ^ "United Nations NGO Status". Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. 2011-01-25. Archived from the original on 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-01-25.
  15. ^ "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. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-07-23. Retrieved 2012-07-25.
  16. ^ "Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Expels Whistleblower,Refuses to Cooperate with Federal Investigation".
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  22. ^ Alexander, Keith L. (2008-08-16). "Comedian Fights to Retain Presidency of Sorority". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-08-19.
  23. ^ "Judge rules in favor of comedian in sorority". San Jose Mercury News. The Associated Press. 2008-11-25. Retrieved 2009-02-03.[permanent dead link]
  24. ^ "SINCLAIR v. ZETA PHI BETA SORORITY, INC". Justia.com: Federal District Court Filings & Dockets. Retrieved 2008-11-25.
  25. ^ Hooker, Mike (2009-08-29). "Sorority At CSU Expelled For Hazing Allegations". Colorado & Denver News. CBS Television Stations Inc. Archived from the original on 2009-08-29. Retrieved 2010-01-30.
  26. ^ Grooms, Vicki (2010-08-12). "Coastal Carolina University suspends sorority". TheSunNews.com. The Sun News. Archived from the original on 2012-09-13.
  27. ^ "7 sorority sisters charged with hazing, assault at UM initiation".
  28. ^ "Home". Hazing. Retrieved 24 December 2022.
  29. ^ "Former student sues sorority for alleged hazing practices - The Daily Californian". dailycal.org. 2 February 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
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  41. ^ "Z-HOPE - Zetas Helping Other People Excel". Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Archived from the original on 2010-07-30. Retrieved 2011-01-25.