Celebrating the Divine Nine

A new UW plaza commemorates Black fraternities and sororities.

Members of the Beta Omicron chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity

The project will create a garden space and install historical markers. Bryce Richter

Starting this fall, UW–Madison is cementing a legacy long in the making with the Divine Nine Garden Plaza.

The Divine Nine refers to the nation’s nine historically Black Greek-letter fraternities and sororities, six of which are currently active at UW–Madison. The National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), founded in 1930 at Howard University, oversees chapters at universities across the country.

The campus project will create a garden space and install historical markers recognizing the contributions of NPHC organizations at UW–Madison. The site is a grassy area with park benches at East Campus Mall and West Johnson Street.

“I think adding a physical landmark for the National Pan-Hellenic Council will do wonders for Black students here in making them feel like they belong,” says Israel Oby ’21, a member of the Beta Omicron chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. “It also would help prospective students see that the school is trying to represent Black students and students of color in a better way than it has before.”

The Divine Nine Garden Plaza project is a joint effort among the Student Inclusion Coalition, the UW’s National Pan-Hellenic Council, and the UW administration. It is projected to be completed in May 2022, when there will be a formal celebration to mark this step toward greater recognition of the Black community and its history on campus.

Published in the Fall 2021 issue

Tags: Campus buildings, Campus history, Student life, Students

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