🔓Disney, historically Black sororities and fraternities partner for Black History Month step shows

Groups perform at Animal Kingdom as part of ‘Celebrate Soulfully’ campaign

ORLANDO, Fla. – Stepping has a long tradition in Black communities, derived from Africa gumboot dancing.

South African mine workers would stomp the ground with distinct rhythm to communicate with one-another, because they weren’t allowed to talk, according to the International Library of African Music. Sometimes the men would embellish their boots with bells to create different sounds.

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In the early 1900s, historically Black fraternities and sororities with the National Pan-Hellenic Council, or Divine Nine, used a variation of stepping and chanting to uplift audiences and show pride in their group.

For the first time, local graduate chapters in Orange County were invited to perform during Disney World’s “Celebrate Soulfully” Black History Month events at Animal Kingdom.

“It’s really about connecting our brand with HBCUs and honoring that long tradition,” said Michelle Stepney, senior manager of Disney’s Multicultural Marketing Strategy.

“This is historical for Disney to invite local organizations to show off our talent and history,” said A. Marie Minelas, president of the Orlando chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. “Greek organizations isn’t just about college and stepping, we are about service and scholarship and being a part of our community.”

News 6 Insider Guide Crystal Moyer is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, and performed at the show.

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, also performed in front of packed crowds at the theme park.

“We want to make sure that it’s something that our Black guests and cast can be proud of and see and identify with, and that other people can learn about these wonderful stories,” Stepney said.

National Pan-Hellenic Council (Divine Nine):

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated

Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated

Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Incorporated

Members of NPHC organizations are all students or graduates of four-year colleges and universities. Undergraduate and Graduate Chapters are located across the world serving communities and promoting education with different programs and philanthropies.

While NPHC organizations are historically Black fraternities and sororities, the organizations and membership is open to men and women of all races and backgrounds.

About the Author:

Crystal Moyer is a morning news anchor who joined the News 6 team in 2020.