Zeta Phi Beta (ΖΦΒ) is an international, historically black Greek-lettered sorority founded on January 16, 1920 by five collegiate women at Howard University. Zeta Phi Beta was founded on the simple belief that sorority elitism and socializing should not overshadow the real mission for progressive organizations – to address societal mores, ills, prejudices, poverty, and health concerns of the day.
Zeta Phi Beta is organized into 800+ chapters, in eight intercontinental regions including the USA, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean. In 1948, Zeta Phi Beta became the first Greek-letter organization to charter a chapter in Africa (in Monrovia, Liberia). It was also the first organization to establish adult and youth auxiliary groups and centralize its operations in a national headquarters. Today, there are also chapters in U.S. Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Bahamas, Japan, Korea, Barbados, and Haiti.
Zeta Phi Beta is the only National Pan-Hellenic Council (“NPHC”) sorority that is constitutionally bound to a fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma. The sorority maintains affiliations with several organizations including the NPHC, American Diabetes Association, March of Dimes, American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, National Council of Negro Women, and the United Negro College Fund.
In the spring of 1919, during a stroll on the campus of Howard University, Charles Robert Samuel Taylor, member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, shared with Arizona Cleaver his idea for a new sisterhood; a sister organization to his fraternity. Arizona presented this idea to Pearl Neal, Myrtle Tyler, Viola Tyler, and Fannie Pettie, and a new sisterhood was formed.
Arizona Cleaver sought permission from the Howard University administration to establish a new campus sorority. That permission was granted, and on January 16, 1920 the first official meeting was held. The five coeds chose the name Zeta Phi Beta. Phi Beta was taken from Phi Beta Sigma to “seal and signify the relationship between the two organizations”.