The historic Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., was founded on January 9, 1914 by the Honorable A. Langston Taylor, Honorable Leonard F. Morse, and Honorable Charles I. Brown. The organization was built around the ideals of brotherhood, scholarship, and service. The founders created the organization with the community in mind and wanted each prospective member to be judged by their character and not by other elements such as race, status, etc. It was their vision and their foundation that has led the organization to 599 active chapters and 225K members initiated since its creation, and 109 strong years of brotherhood.
DeLance Frelow, president of Phi Beta Sigma Alumni Chapter, designated as Sigma Theta Sigma, one of the several unique Alumni Sigma Chapters across Houston, discussed how the organization is composed of a group of men who believe in the three principles (brotherhood, scholarship and service) established by the founding members. He stressed the importance of brotherhood within the organization and how “individuals that are not even blood related become your brothers.”
Chapter Education Chairman Dr. Don Prier explained that the organization is “a wondrous band of like-minded, highly educated individuals” and he joined not only for the brotherhood who he considers family, but also to help solve real life problems, and to have a group of people he can turn to for help. “We work in a wide range of industries, but we can all get together and provide each other advice…and we all have a skillset that makes us all successful,” he stated. One of the best parts is how this group of men are giving back through mentoring and guiding our youth. Dr. Prier said, “These men have made themselves available so that they can actually be there for our kids and actually provide mentorship opportunities as well as helping them develop their skill sets.”
When they are not mentoring the youth, they are out in the community giving back and being community activists. Recently, this chapter held a community event called Carver Day at George Washington Carver High School (G. W. Carver) in Aldine ISD. The purpose of the program was to invite the public to G.W. Carver and celebrate the legacy of the late George Washington Carver, an innovator in STEM and a prominent member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. Additionally, it is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the school’s students, faculty and members of the Acres Homes community.
The beauty of Carver Day is that it also celebrates and unites all members of the Divine 9. The program is supported by the Sigma Theta Sigma Alumni Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma and Zeta Phi Beta member Monikka Mann, owner of both the 44 Engineering Robotics Group and Gryphon Engineering and Technology. It was a great night as three Proclamations were awarded to the school (as well as a section of the Championship Bus robot named Victory) to be placed in the Carver Heritage Center.
When discussing how the organization has evolved over the years, President Frelow mentioned the increase in membership and how the organization has shifted as the world has shifted. Dr. Prier and President Frelow proudly discussed the representation they now have in different entities than they did before. “We have opportunities that we necessarily didn’t have when the organization was first founded. We have representation in almost every field such as government, education, business… and because we have these guys in those different areas, it gives the younger or collegiate students an opportunity to advance …and that’s a great niche that comes with being a part of this organization.”
When it comes to fraternities, there are some misconceptions that people may have. One of those misconceptions is hazing. According to President Frelow, they take non-hazing very seriously. “Unfortunately, most people, when they hear the fraternity at the end of their name, they automatically assume that negative feedback that comes with the word fraternity…every year all the brothers have to go through a certification so that we can remain certified and keep our insurance that we have if any type of incident happens, not only hazing, just any incident in general,” he said. Other misconceptions include the fraternity not giving back to the community, that all they do is party and mistreat women, just to name a few. President Frelow reassured that, “I reiterate to my guys in the chapter that anytime you put on the letters of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., you are a representation of the organization regardless if it’s a wristband, a necklace, a t-shirt, a hat, your license plate on the back of your vehicle…you are a representation and you have to safeguard the reputation with the best in duty and the best in conduct.”
Some of Dr. Prier’s reasoning for wanting to become a Sigma is because of the fraternity’s representation, how inclusive the organization is, and “the certain values that are in place that we have to exhibit.” He further mentioned, “What really forced that mindset is the fact that we’re bound to the Zetas. They are our true sisters. It’s a part of who we are.” President Frelow added, “Out of all the nine Black Greek letter organizations, we are the only two that are actually brother and sisters because one of our founders actually helped find all five of the founders of Zeta Phi Beta.”
If someone is interested in joining a fraternity or a sorority, President Frelow’s advice is to do your research, not only on Phi Beta Sigma, but other organizations as well because it is a lifelong commitment, and once you’re a member, you will always be a member. “Do your research and see if what we represent in our history is an actual interest of yours, because once you say I’m interested, there’s no turning back.”
In closing, Dr. Prier and President Frelow expressed their gratitude and appreciation for the organization. As a dual credit instructor for Lone Star College and a Robotics teacher at Carver High School, Dr. Prier is proud of his brothers and how they work and connect with the students at Carver and give them the support they need. They even helped the robotics team to go to the world championship and are committed to doing it again. “I open up the school, open up the department, and these guys will just drop in and start working with the kids…and it’s just refreshing to see that there’s a strong commitment to seeing these kids get the best education possible.”
As one of the founders who started this chapter, along with 12 other men, President Frelow expressed how appreciative he is to be president of a great organization. “I’m just honored that these guys allow me to be their president, especially with me being so young…The reason I joined is because I wanted to use this platform of this fraternity to make a difference in this world.
The Sigmas have done great work in their organization and in their community. They are proud to serve and will continue to serve and make this world a better place. They are gearing up for their national conference which is coming to Houston July 11th-July 16th, and it will be the first time that it’s been held in Houston in 50 years.
For more information about the organization, you can visit https://www.sigmasofnorthhouston.com/, or their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TheWoodlandsSigmas. You can also contact them at [email protected].