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Divine 9 & divine interventions: Denouncing Black Greek letters

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With numerous testimonials on YouTube and TikTok from ex-members of Divine Nine (D9) Black Greek sororities and fraternities, the idea of denouncing letters has been a topic of conversation through the years.

Some opponents of D9 have expressed that the pledging or intake process to join these organizations is demonic, with members worshipping Greek gods and goddesses through ritualistic practices and idolizing themselves above God.

These notions along with hazing incidents making national news, and even the well-known “hell night” portrayed in media, highlight controversy for D9 organizations, which hold historical value within the Black community.

Denouncing Black Greek letter organizations

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“Being a Christian and being a part of Alpha Kappa Alpha? Those two groups are not contradictory. We’re based on Christian principals,” said Jerilyn Lewis, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

D9 consists of nine Black Greek fraternities and sororities: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Phi Beta Sigma, Fraternity Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho, Sorority Inc., and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc.

All but one of the D9 fraternities and sororities were founded in the early 1900s.

Denouncing: “…Choose Delta or God.”

“I am a first-generation college student. It actually goes back to when I was in high school. I saw women who influenced me. They were strong, powerful, loving women who were a part of Delta and AKA,” said Nicole A. Griffin, an ex-member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

“I wanted to be just like them. When I went to college, I knew I wanted to pledge. I didn’t know which one, but when I was moving in freshman year, the Deltas were helping us and were very nice and kind. I thought God answered my prayers on which one I needed.”

She was an active Delta for 17 years before she said God spoke to her and told her to get rid of her Greek paraphernalia in 2012.

“I was sitting on my couch in my house when I heard a loud bang. When I went to my room I saw my Delta paddle fell down. I got the message that you choose Delta or God,” said Griffin.

Many people who publicly denounce their letters say that the rituals to join are blasphemous because of the practice of replacing God, Lord or Jesus in Bible verses with organization names in official handbooks.

Griffin officially denounced in 2018 and, since then, going back to her alma mater’s homecomings has been tough.

“It was terrible. They didn’t speak. Only one person was bold enough to ask me if they ever did anything to me for me to denounce. She wasn’t asking me out of concern. She was asking to try to shame me,” said Griffin.

Jerilyn Lewis joined Alpha Kappa Alpha in spring 1983 at FAMU.

She said her organization would often start meetings with prayer and had an organization chaplain.

“…Rituals are simply ceremonies. Churches have rituals.”

She did not know anything about Black Greek letter organizations until she arrived at college.

The AKA’s were the nicest to her, and she noted that they were involved in student government and Miss FAMU and were top of their classes, well-versed, poised, well-dressed, respected and did a lot of community service projects.

“I wanted to be just like them. I hear two things when it comes to denouncing: idolatry and rituals. Rituals are simply ceremonies. Churches have rituals. It’s the people that make them bad that’s an issue, but that isn’t the case with AKA,” said Lewis.

“If anybody puts an organization above God, that’s a personal choice. The problem lies with the person and the personalities. I don’t believe anything they do is demonic. I don’t interpret it as demonic. That’s almost laughable to me.”

Jarron Tichenor became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha in spring 2021 at Ball State University.

“It doesn’t make sense to me. I’m a Christian. I was raised in the church, and I’m back closer to God as an adult now. The rituals can seem a little bit weird, but I was told by my organization that there’s God, your family, then school and then there’s Alpha,” said Tichenor.

“I even do my own little spin on the priorities, so it’s God, then me, family, school and then Alpha. That’s what my organization exposed me to. We pray all the time, and I believe it was God who brought me through our line. It’s a brotherhood.”

Tichenor said that he does not judge people who denounce their letters because he knows everyone’s spiritual journey is different.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize the value Greek life brings to the community. We really do serve,” said Tichenor.

Denouncing Black Greek letter organizations

Jasmine Duhon grew up surrounded by Greek organizations.

She was not foreign to the concept of joining.

“My mother was Greek. It doesn’t even start in college. You have groups essentially preparing children for Greek life, like Delta Gems and Kappa League,” said Duhon.

“These are mentors to kids where they learn how to step, starting them on community service projects where they learn the value of serving others. In high school, one teacher was really influential to me who was an AKA.”

Duhon grew up Baptist, and her family kept her in church every Sunday, Wednesday and throughout the week.

She said you do not really know God until you leave home and have to get to know Him for yourself.

So, when she went through the process to join the Alpha Kappa Alpha chapter on her college campus, she had strong discernment telling her that something was wrong.

She felt bad immediately after becoming an official member in spring 2009.

“You don’t even realize that even with the poems that we are speaking over ourselves, what we’re coming into agreement with collectively, God is not an author of confusion or division,” said Duhon.

“You talk about sisterhood. I’m the oldest daughter of five and my siblings and we never treated each other bad. How can you treat your sister or your brother bad and put them down?”

Idolatry, demonic rituals & blasphemy

Not even knowing about denouncing, she stopped wearing her letters.

Duhon said she knew who she was before she became an AKA, and she noticed how others were defined by their letters.

After college, she had a friend who denounced Delta.

“She would tell me about how God told her that she was coming into agreement and how their altar affected her life and her bloodline. I was never pushed or pressured to denounce. She just gave me the information,” said Duhon.

“In 2022, I had a dream. I was at an altar where I was getting married, and my children were lying all around me on the ground. Then I woke up and went to the AKA website where I did the renounced prayer. I called my friend and I said, ‘It’s time.’”

Although that was in the privacy of her home, she wanted to denounce publicly.
In March 2023, she made a TikTok video that went viral with over 455,000 views and counting.

“I lost a lot of people. While some friends boldly asked me what my reason was, others made a group chat and just talked about me. God has pushed me into ministry now, not to condemn but to spread awareness,” said Duhon.

“..Before you pledge or join anything…”

Griffin said that her experience is her experience, and even with sharing her truth, she does not want to impose her belief onto anyone else.

“Me speaking is not to tell you what to do or what not to do. This is just me testifying, but what I would tell people is, ‘Before you pledge or join anything, always ask God if this is what You want me to do,’” said Griffin.

“You can do community service and have a sisterhood without that. It’s not what you do, it’s who you do it unto.”

Contact staff writer Jade Jackson at (317) 762-7853 or by email JadeJ@IndyRecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @IAMJADEJACKSON.

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