We all know about the Kappas, Ques, AKAs and Deltas. But did you know that Latino/Latina Greek organizations exist on thousands of U.S. college campuses, including HBCUs? Dating back to 1890, when the first Latin American Greek organization was founded, these groups have served many purposes over the years. Although many of these organizations became defunct in the early 1900s, the Latino Greek movement has made a resurgence in the 1970s, acting as political organizations and networking resources for Latino students studying in the U.S.
Here are five Latino/Latina Greek organizations that have found homes at historically black colleges and universities.
Lambda Theta Phi Fraternity, Inc., Johnson C. Smith University
Founded: December 1, 1975 Kean College
Lambda Theta Phi history (from fraternity website):
On December 1, 1975, history was made – history on a college campus, which would transcend other colleges/universities throughout the United States; history which would have a positive impact on the Latino community and our nation; history which would forever change the Greek system, more specifically, the entity known as a fraternity. On December 1, 1975, Lambda Theta Phi was founded on the campus of Kean College in Union, New Jersey.
In 1975, there were no Latino fraternities in existence in the United States. The Greek-letter organizations of the time primarily catered to Anglo and African-American students and graduates. Lambda’s founders, as men of vision, realized there was a need to unite the Latino students, develop their leadership skills, impart upon them the value of an education, and instill in them a commitment to their community and culture. The traditional student club would not suffice to accomplish such lofty goals. Hence, Latino unity and brotherhood would be achieved through a long recognized institution – the fraternity. This newest addition to the Greek system would be the first in the nation, by identity and by name: Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Incorporated.
The ideals of this brotherhood are the following: Academic Excellence; Brotherhood; Leadership; Latino Unity; Service. On a daily basis, our brothers live up to these ideals, as set forth by fourteen young Latino men decades ago.
At the undergraduate level, our brothers are active within the Fraternity and in other student organizations. Our brothers perform community service, promote our culture by sponsoring events which highlight and celebrate our heritage, participate in educational workshops, and enjoy many social programs. As a result of their active participation in every aspect of college life, our undergraduates are developing their organizational, communication, and leadership skills, all while pursuing the coveted diploma. Our younger Lambdas are receiving the training and competence to serve as the future leaders of our brotherhood, community, and nation.
At the professional level, among our ranks you will find attorneys, doctors, and engineers. Our brothers are shaping young minds as educators and as dedicated fathers. The men in brown and white are defending this country at home and abroad in the area of law enforcement and in the armed forces. We are strengthening our country’s economy as entrepreneurs. Our brothers are teaching leadership as coaches, mentors, and community activists. The Lambdas are affecting policy and change as elected officials serving on City Councils, Boards of Education, U.S. House of Representatives, and U.S. Senate. In short, Lambdas are contributing and excelling in every facet of human endeavor.
Since our founding, Lambda Theta Phi has established chapters in every region of the country at both the undergraduate and professional levels. Our brotherhood continues to provide the necessary skills and resources for the advancement and empowerment of our people and for the betterment of this nation.
Our illustrious history is not only our past but our guiding light to the future. As the first, we overcame many obstacles. Not having much guidance in our formative stages, we persevered and became stronger. Lambda is the product of vision, strength, and unity. Our history serves as a legacy and testament to our accomplishments and greatness.
Lambda Theta Phi … Academic Excellence – Brotherhood – Leadership – Latino Unity -Service.
Lambda Theta Alpha Sorority, Inc.: Johnson C. Smith University
Founded: 1975, Kean College
Lambda Theta Alpha Sorority history (from sorority website):
Traditionally, the role of the Latina woman was that of maintaining the family institution and falling into the realm of the machismo stigma. However, as the Latino migration to the United States increased, so did the emergence of independent Latina women who were eager to be at the forefront of an era of a new educational, political and social consciousness. College and university enrollment mirrored this influx. With this growth, the need for support groups and outreach programs were at an all time high, primarily for the low percentage of Latina women in higher education.
In 1975, Kean University introduced bilingual and Latino/Caribbean studies. Although this enabled the educational advancement of the Latina woman, still missing was the support needed to bridge the equality gap. It was during this time that 17 women convened to discuss the formation of a sorority for Latina women. Its focus would be to actively integrate itself into the social, political and community service arena that other students had been involved with. Together, they could collaborate and assist with any student-run programs, thus making their voices as loud as the majority voice and their concerns equally as important.
Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc.: North Carolina Central University
Founded: April 16, 1988, Cornell University
Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc. history (from sorority website):
The first Latina-focused sorority founded at an Ivy-league institution, Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad /Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc. was established on April 16, 1988 at Cornell University. Patricia Rivera, Maria Caban, Eva Marie Sosa, Migdalia Franklin and Irma Almirall-Padamsee strove to establish an organization that would transcend their collegiate experience and consolidate their strength as responsible leaders of the community. They worked diligently to develop an impactful organization whose mission and goals would encompass the experiences of all women, but especially those of U.S. Latinas and whose ideals would nurture the growth of its members throughout their lives.
Today, Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc. represents a tradition of strong, proud women whose lives and achievements reflect an unwavering commitment to public service, Hermandad and the preservation of the rich cultural legacies that shape our experiences. Committed to the three ideals upon which our organization’s foundation stands – La Comunidad, La Cultura Latina, and La Hermandad – Las Hermanas strive to promote progress and development in their communities. This stalwart commitment to nuestra comunidad frames our individual and collective goals. Comprised of undergraduate, graduate and professional women, Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc. seeks to unify women through the promotion of community service programs that highlight the contributions of women and people of color with an emphasis on the U.S. Latina and offer opportunities for academic and professional advancement to members of historically under-represented groups.
Kappa Delta Chi: Prairie View A&M
Founded April 6, 1987, Texas Tech University
Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, Inc. history (from sorority website):
In 1987 four young women from the Rio Grande Valley had a vision while attending Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. Their vision was to create something so special and unique that it would leave a legacy for others who followed. They recognized the need to unify and promote leadership amongst Hispanic women at the university. That vision became Kappa Delta Chi. The Founders are Cynthia Garza-Fleitman, Nellie Flores-Ledesma, Irene Montoya and Melissa Montoya. With the strong foundations of service, Christianity and friendship, they created a sisterhood that 20 years later is stronger than ever. They sought to incorporate the principles of Unity, Honesty, Integrity, and Leadership into this organization.
Due to the hard work and effort of the Founders and the Charter members, Kappa Delta Chi was recognized as an official organization at Texas Tech University on April 6, 1987. This historic day is officially recognized as Kappa Delta Chi’s founding date.
Kappa Delta Chi became a nationally recognized sorority with the induction of the first chapter outside of Texas in 1991. Over the years, Kappa Delta Chi has grown to include women of various ethnicities and cultures and has inducted other chapters throughout the country.
All with the common premise of joining Kappa Delta Chi because of the scholastic, philanthropic, and ethical standards that it cultivates and encourages. These are the standards that we emanate through sisterly friendship and servitude to each other and to those around us.
As the result of our sisterhood’s diligent work and determination, Kappa Delta Chi was recognized as a service-based, nonprofit corporation by the State of Texas on September 25, 1997. Subsequently, our sisterhood has become known as Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, Inc.
In 2000, the Kappa Delta Chi Foundation was established in order to develop and implement programs that exclusively support philanthropic purposes and to establish educational scholarships and grants.
Sigma Lambda Beta: Prairie View A&M, Florida A&M, Texas Southern University, Huston-Tillotson University
Founded April 4, 1986, University of Iowa
Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity, Inc. history (from sorority website):
During the fall of 1985, Baltazar Mendoza-Madrigal began to explore the idea of establishing a Latino-based fraternity at the University of Iowa. Having seen the impact organizations like Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity had on their constituency, Mendoza-Madrigal knew something similar could be done for the Latino interest. Without knowing the impact he would have almost 30 years down the road, Baltazar starting doing research on this possibility.
After months of dedicated research, Mendoza-Madrigal called for a special meeting on March 7, 1986. Held at the Chicano Indian American Cultural Center (now known as the Latino Native American Cultural Center), this meeting would bring together the Latino students to discuss the feasibility of creating a social fraternity that would focus on the Latino culture.
“The Latino community was divided among several social groups at the time,” said Mendoza-Madrigal. The enthusiasm in favor of establishing a social fraternity that could help in unifying the community was so great that word started to spread quickly across the University of Iowa campus. Everyone knew that something great was about to take place. After much planning, the ideology and philosophy of this new organization were finalized on April 4th, 1986. Henceforth, this day is recognized as the official founding date of Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity at The University of Iowa.
After 30 years, our Fraternity has grown to over 100 collegiate entities spanning across 29 states from Coast to Coast. Moreover, our membership has expanded beyond our Hispanic-Latino origins making us one of the most culturally diverse Greek lettered organizations. A detailed history of our fraternity was written in Out of the Iowa Cornfields.
Honorable mention: Afro-Latino organizations
Five fraternities and two sororities define themselves, not as Latino Greeks, but as Afro-Latino organizations:
Alpha Beta Sigma Sorority, founded February 6, 1998, SUNY Buffalo
Beta Kappa Psi Fraternity, founded October 14, 1992, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Beta Sigma Kappa Fraternity, founded March 16, 1998, SUNY Buffalo
Malika Kambe Umfazi Sorority, founded June 16, 1995, SUNY Buffalo
Malik Sigma Psi Fraternity, founded May 13, 1977, Long Island University
Xi Theta Psi Fraternity, founded March 5, 1995, Syracuse University
Sigma Phi Rho Fraternity, founded November 13, 1979, Wagner College