Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. was founded January 16, 1920, at Howard University, Washington, D.C. The Klan was very active during this period and the Harlem Renaissance was acknowledged as the first important movement of Black artists and writers in the U.S. This same year the Volstead Act became effective heralding the start of Prohibition and Tennessee delivered the crucial 36th ratification for the final adoption of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote. The worst and longest economic recession to hit the U.S. would define the end of the decade-The Great Depression.
It was within this environment that five coeds envisioned a sorority which would directly affect positive change, chart a course of action for the 1920s and beyond, raise 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 and failed to address fully the societal mores, ills, prejudices, and poverty affecting humanity in general and the black community in particular.
Since its inception, Zeta has continued its steady climb into the national spotlight with programs designed to demonstrate concern for the human condition both nationally and internationally. The organization has been innovative in that it has chronicled a number of firsts. It was the first National Pan-Hellenic Council organization to centralize its operations in a national headquarters, first to charter a chapter in Africa, first to form auxiliary groups, and first to be constitutionally bound to a fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. The sorority takes pride in its continued participation in transforming communities through volunteer services from members and its auxiliaries. Zeta Phi Beta has chartered hundreds of chapters worldwide and has a membership of 100,000+.
Zeta‘s national and local programs include the endowment of its National Educational Foundation community outreach services and support of multiple affiliate organizations. Zeta chapters and auxiliaries have given untotaled hours of voluntary service to educate the public, assist youth, provide scholarships, support organized charities, and promote legislation for social and civic change.
As the sorority moves toward its centennial, it retains its original zest for excellence. It espouses the highest academic ideals and that has resulted in its members serving in groundbreaking roles in all fields of endeavor. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. is poised for perpetual service to mankind into her second century and beyond.
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Arizona Cleaver Stemons
Pearl Anna Neal
Myrtle Tyler Faithful
Viola Tyler Goings
Fannie Pettie Watts
Atlantic Region History
The Atlantic Region was formed in 1944 when the northern states of the Eastern Region were separated from the southern states. The region, comprised of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Ghana, Germany and Greater London, has the distinction of being home to three of the Founders of Zeta Phi Beta. They are Arizona Cleaver Stemons of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Myrtle Tyler Faithful of Towson, Maryland; and Fannie Pettie Watts of Brooklyn, New York.
The Atlantic Region has the honor of being home to Zeta Phi Beta's first graduate chapter - Alpha Zeta, and the second undergraduate chapter - Gamma Chapter both of which are located in Baltimore, Maryland. The chapter at Morgan State University was named Gamma Chapter, which is same name as its Sigma Brothers on the campus.
Also included in the Atlantic Region are chapters located in Africa and Germany. Zeta Phi Beta was the first Greek-lettered organization to establish chapters in Africa in 1948 during the administration of International President Lullelia Harrison. Since that time, donations of supplies have been sent from American sorors to the African continent. Recently, chapters in the United States have supported Africa by establishing water wells as part of Zeta's Z-HOPE (Zeta's Helping Other People Excel) Program.
Mu Theta Zeta Chapter in Darmstadt, West Germany continues to thrive through the work of sorors stationed in Germany due to military service. The chapter continues to provide scholarships and implement programs such as blankets for babies that support the community. In 2014, the Atlantic Region increased Zeta's outreach by chartering chapters in Greater London, England and in Belgium. And in 2016, our first international Amicae Auxiliary was chartered in Brussels, Belgium
The region is especially proud of the nine progressive women who lived in the Atlantic Region who have served in the capacity of International President of Zeta. Arizona Cleaver Stemons (1920-21), Myrtle Tyler Faithful (1921-22), Joanna Ransom (1922-23), Nellie Buchanan (1923-25), S. Evelyn Lewis (1925-26), Deborah Partridge Cannon Wolfe (1953-65), Janice G. Kissner (1974-80), Dr. Edith V. Francis (1980-86) and Valerie Hollingsworth-Baker (2018-present) served at the highest level of the national organization with honor.
The dynamic women who have served in the roles of Regional Director through the years have each left an indelible imprint on the region. Their contributions range from implementing sound business practices, holding joint regional conferences with the Brothers of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, purchasing the home of Founder Arizona Cleaver Stemons (now owned by Beta Delta Zeta Chapter, Philadelphia, PA), and creating a scholarship in her name.
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