Sunday, January 16, 2011

On January 16 in Black History...Black Soldiers and Zeta Phi Beta

In 1776, Continental Congress approved Washington's order on the enlistment of free Blacks.  In 1776, One fifth of the total population was enslaved [1776], about 500,000 negros, women and children.  In October 1775, Washington announced that all blacks, both free and slave would be "rejected altogether." In November he said that "Neither Negroes, boys unable to bear arms, nor old men unfit to endure the fatigues of the campaign, are to be enlisted."[12] Most blacks were integrated into existing military units, but some segregated units were formed, such as the Bucks of America. Lord Dunmore, the royal governor of Virginia was determined to maintain British rule in the southern colonies. On November 7, 1775, he issued a proclamation that he would free black and white bondsmen who came to fight with the British. By December 1775 the British army had 300 slaves wearing a military uniform. Sewnon the breast of the uniform was the inscription "Liberty to Slaves". These slaves were designated as "Lord Dunmore's Ethiopian Regiment."  Dunmore's Black soldiers had brought fear to the Patriots. In December 1775, Washington wrote a letter to Colonel Henry Lee stating that success in the war would come to whatever side could arm the blacks the fastest. Washington then issued orders to the recruiters to reenlist the free blacks who had already served in the army. He worried that these soldiers may cross over to the British side. Congress in 1776 agreed with Washington and free blacks who had already served could be reenlisted. South Carolina and Georgia did resist in enlisting slaves as soldiers. African Americans from northern units did fight in southern battles and some southern blacks were allowed to be a substitute for their master.

In 1920, Zeta Phi Beta was founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C.  In 1948, Zeta Phi Beta became the first Greek-letter organization to charter a chapter in Africa (in Monrovia, Liberia).[4][5] It was also the first organization to establish adult and youth auxiliary groups and centralize its operations in a national headquarters.[3][4] Today, there are also chapters in U.S. Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Bahamas, Japan, Korea, Barbados, and Haiti.
Zeta Phi Beta is the only NPHC sorority that is constitutionally bound to a fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma.[4] The sorority maintains affiliations with several organizations including American Diabetes Association, March of Dimes, American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, National Council of Negro Women, and the United Negro College Fund.[6]

Famous members of Zeta Phi Beta include Zora Neale Hurston, Esther Rolle, Dione Warwick and Wendy Palmer.

In 1920 Zeta Phi Beta Sorority was founded on the campus of Howard University.

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