by Renata Johnson
Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, also known as “the Boule,” is the first formed professional African-American Greek-lettered organization, which was created by professional Black men. The group was started in Philadelphia, PA, on May 15, 1904. The founders of the organization were two doctors and a dentist. The organizations were started because although the African-American community held men of great distinction who had held various leadership post, they were still not offered to join any organizations within the White community. So, the group of small men set out to form their own organization that would allow men of the same caliber to join together and fellowship, and do work for the good of their communities.
Members of the fraternity were not only selected on numerous of aspects, not just on education and their culture background. The organization was to contain only the best of “Skull and Bones and of Phi Beta Kappa.” The fraternity believed in equality of standing and its members were to meet all standards of qualifications. Little known about the fraternity is that all the members had already graduated from college and were well-established in their jobs and community.
Since the start of the organization the fraternity has been led by 33 International Presidents. Members include NBA players, NFL players, five Hall of Fame Athletes, Congressmen and governors who are all proud Sigma men. There are also numerous of buildings and schools who have been named after influential Sigma men such as James Weldon Johnson, George Washing Carver and Robert Moton. Today there are over 5,000 members and 126 chapters that are located throughout the United States.
The creation of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity is considered as one of the best kept secrets in the African-American community because of the influence that it has to learn, grow, and network with influential people from all over the world. There are many other American Greek-lettered organizations now that have since been created. Membership to the fraternity is highly exclusive, still only well-known and highly accomplished professional individuals are allowed in the organization. The organization to this day has never established a college chapter. So, there are still no undergraduate students allowed into the fraternity as of yet. However, the organization is quite involved with college Black Greek letter organizations, as there are many people in Sigma Pi Phi who have ties to other Greek organizations. It is a high honor in the African-American community to be invited into the organization.