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Zeta Phi Beta

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. was organized at Howard University, in Washington, D.C., on January 16, 1920. The Founders and Charter Members of the Sorority consisted of Arizona Cleaver, Viola Tyler, Myrtle Tyler, Pearl Neal, and Fannie Pettie. (Viola Tyler and Myrtle Tyler were sisters.) It is indeed interesting to note further that there were two men of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Charles R. Taylor and A. Langston Taylor, who assisted the “Five Pearls” in organizing the sisterhood. In fact, the interest manifested by the Taylors and the enthusiasm, energy, and ability exhibited by Arizona Cleaver provided the cornerstone for the building of the Sorority.

Phi Beta Sigma member Charles R. Taylor, who was instrumental in assisting with the founding of Zeta Phi Beta, made the following comments in the 1959 Fall Crescent Magazine.

“Arizona Cleaver was the chief builder and she asked fourteen others to join her. I shall never forget the first meetings held in dormitory rooms of Miner Hall. Miss Hardwick, the matron, never knew I was about until I was escorted out by Arizona, who was her assistant. I was Miss Hardwick’s favorite boy.”
“As National Executive Secretary of Phi Beta Sigma, I wrote to the officers of every Sigma Chapter requesting the establishment of a sister organization. There was quick response – so, in addition to the Alpha Chapter, at Howard; Beta, Morris Brown University; Gamma, Morgan College (Gamma was a second Chapter, so named because they wished to carry the same name as the Sigma Chapter on Morgan’s Campus); Delta, Kansas City State College; and Epsilon, New York City, were started by ardent brothers who saw the good in my meditations and in the work done by those first faithful sisters: Arizona Cleaver, Myrtle Tyler, Viola Tyler, Fannie Pattie and Pearl Neal. Following a formal introduction given by Brother A. Langston Taylor and me at the Whitelaw Hotel, they were also welcomed on the campus by the Alpha Kappa Alpha and the Delta Sigma Theta Sororities. Our first joint formal, Feb. 21, 1921, at the White-law Hotel, was a gala affair.”

One of the more recent views about the connection between Phi Beta Sigma and Zeta Phi Beta was summed up in poetic piece by Ahab El’Askeni one of the writers of the Temple of Blue in the following way.

“Those within or outside of the Blue & White Family always seem to get hung up one issue in particular when it comes to Sigma and Zeta. That is, “How does the bond shared between Phi Beta Sigma and Zeta Phi Beta stands out from any the bonds that are claimed by other Black Greek Lettered Organizations?” Well, we do have a reason to love and respect our Sorors as we LOVE and respect our brothers. We have a common history, which must be at least recognized and acknowledged before one can truly be called Sigma or Zeta. The Zeta Phi Beta Sigma bond gives me, a brother of Sigma, the ability to love my Sorors as I love myself and all of mine.”
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