Connecting to brothers and sisters from the past

Shanice Davis, Features Editor

Whenever you stand in a crowd and hear synchronized shouts, claps and stomps, do you ever wonder what those performers are doing?

Members of Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta and Zeta Phi Beta founded the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) in 1930, later becoming known as the Divine 9 when four more fraternities and sororities joined the council.

Through these African American men and women, stepping has been emphasized throughout the African American greek life for decades, keeping ties to their cultural roots.

Originally, stepping was practiced in African communities, drawing movements from African foot dances such as Gumboot, which was originally performed by black miners while wearing wellington boots in South Africa.

Today, stepping still utilizes its pioneering steps as a base to the now popularized dance form that utilizes the body through rhythmic footsteps, hand claps and spoken word as a way of conveying messages.

“It symbolizes a peaceful protest. Black people were excluded from common fraternities, so they would march in the streets to show that they were proud of their black organizations,” said Omega Psi Phi member Ashton Mackey.

Although commonly associated with the Divine 9, stepping is not solely practiced in black Greek organizations, as other organizations have adopted this form of expression as well.

Due to the oppression of people of color in Greek life, it is of great esteem to be a member of the Divine 9 and to step.

Mackey asserts that when he and his follow brothers step, he feels a sense of exhilaration and a link to his organization’s past.

When I step, it’s with enthusiasm,” Mackey said. “I feel a connection to my brothers and the brothers before me.”