ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Nine teams took the stage Saturday night at the Linda Chapin Theater at the Orange County Convention Center during the NPHC Greek Step Show.
Four black Greek letter organizations from the National Pan-Hellenic Council performed, with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated taking the crown.
February is Black History Month, a time when, since 1976, the nation has recognized important people and events in African-American culture.
Stepping -- which includes chanting, signing, dancing and drama -- is a staple in black culture.
It’s a performance that mixes folk traditions with pop themes.
Starting in 1906, historically black fraternities and sororities on U.S. college campuses would traditionally sing and dance to celebrate new membership of their respective organizations.
Organizations would step during those inductions or probates to pay homage to new members of the organization as well as honor those who came before them.
National Pan-Hellenic Council, or NPHC organizations, have captivated people who are not part of Greek life through stepping.
In present day, it has become a way for members of organizations to show pride for their fraternity or sorority.
There are nine NPHC organizations, also known as “The Divine Nine."
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. - Founded at Cornell University in 1906
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. - Founded at Howard University in 1908
Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. - Founded at Indiana University in 1911
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. - Founded at Howard University in 1911
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. - Founded at Howard University in 1913
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. - Founded at Howard University in 1914
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. - Founded at Howard University in 1920
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. - Founded at Butler University in 1922
Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. - Founded at Morgan State University in 1963
Only four organizations from the Divine Nine participated in this year’s event: Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta and Phi Beta sigma.
Orlando Alumni NPHC Step Show at the Orange County Convention Center
Most of the the performances in this year’s step show focused on voting.
The theme was “your voice, your vote” in an effort to get black voters to the polls in the upcoming November election.
In 1870, black men were given the right to vote through the 15th Amendment but black women weren’t allowed to vote until 1920, when the Nineteenth Amendment was signed to stop the federal government from denying the right to vote to people because of their sex.
Although those Amendments were passed, exercising those rights were difficult because of voter suppression and Jim Crow laws.
Securing voting rights for blacks in the South was a major focus of the Civil Rights movement.
It wasn’t until 1965 that the Voting Rights Act signed by President Lyndon Johnson legally ended racial discrimination in voting.
Read how the 2020 election will commemorate two important anniversaries for black voters here.