Founded January 16, 1920, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. began as an idea conceived by five coeds at Howard University in Washington D.C.: Arizona Cleaver, Myrtle Tyler, Viola Tyler, Fannie Pettie and Pearl Neal. These five women, known as our Five Pearls, sought to establish a new organization predicated on the precepts of Scholarship, Service, Sisterly Love and Finer Womanhood. It was the ideal of the Founders that the Sorority would reach college women in all parts of the country who were sorority minded and desired to follow the founding principles of the organization.
Since its inception, the Sorority has chronicled a number of firsts. Zeta Phi Beta was the first Greek-letter organization to charter a chapter in Africa (1948); to form adult and youth auxiliary groups; to centralize its operations in a national headquarters; and to be constitutionally bound to a fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated. The organization is currently holds United Nations NGO status.
A nonprofit organization, Zeta Phi Beta is incorporated in Washington, D.C. and in the state of Illinois. The dues and gifts of its members support the Sorority.
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. has a rich heritage and tradition. Zeta Phi Beta's members have provided the world examples of our dedication to our service endeavors, of our commitment to scholarship and of our active practice and cultivation of sisterly love, all while illustrating the epitome of Finer Womanhood. The organization continues to thrive and flourish while adapting to the ever-changing needs of a new century.
The phenomenal growth of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated from 1920 to 1927 prompted sorors from several parts of the country to develop recommendations for the national body to refine chapter functioning. This meeting was held in 1927 in Washington, D.C.
During the second term of Grand President Fannie Givens (1930-1933), the recommendations of decentralizing the administrative responsibilities of the sorority were reviewed. After an in-depth review, the national executive board sanctioned the development of chapters into regions.
The regions were divided into four sections – NEW ENGLAND REGION, MIDDLE ATLANTIC REGION, SOUTHERN REGION and WESTERN REGION. The Regional Directors were Sorors Andrades Lindsay Brown (New England), Elsie Z. Graves (Middle Atlantic), Roberta F. Bell (Southern) and R. Lillian Carpenter (Western).
As membership continued to grow throughout the United States and beyond, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated continued to refine their organizational structure.
In 1934 under the tenure of Grand President Violette Anderson, three more regions were added – EASTERN REGION, SOUTHEASTERN REGION, and CENTRAL REGION. With the additional regions, now there were seven regions- EASTERN, MIDDLE ATLANTIC, SOUTHEASTERN, CENTRAL, SOUTHERN, WEST CENTRAL, and SOUTH CENTRAL.
The re-distribution of North Carolina and Tennessee made it possible for the SOUTHEASTERN REGION to be comprised of FLORIDA, GEORGIA, and SOUTH CAROLINA. In 1987, the U.S. Virgin Islands became a part of the Southeastern Region. So as of this regional history book, the Southeastern Region is comprised of FLORIDA, GEORGIA, SOUTH CAROLINA and U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS.
The first Southeastern Regional Director was Sarah Grace Bradley of Georgia (1934-1939). Under her leadership, the region focused on programs that prevented juvenile delinquency; provided academic assistance through tutoring and scholarships; and sponsored community projects that helped women and their families grow and develop
Soror Lucille G. Coleman successfully advocated for an Associate Director in each state within the Southeastern Region that brought another organizational change. Prior to this change, sorors that gave direct assistance to the regional director were appointed and identified as “Acting” under the direction of the regional director.
The first assistants to the regional directors were:
Alpha H. Moore (1935-1946)
Celeste Green Hawkins (1948)
Marian Harris Shannon (1949-1952)
Anita Stripling (1946)
Kate Shakespear (1959-1963)
Julia Mitchell (1963)
Claiborne Carter (1946-1959)
From the inception of regions, the SOUTHEASTERN REGION has led in the implementation of national programs, chapter and life memberships, archonettes, amicae auxiliaries, and community projects.