Close your eyes and relax as we take you back to the year 1939 in Memphis, Tennessee. African Americans wanted to establish themselves and provide support organizations for those in need. Nine women took it upon themselves to continue a tradition of Finer Womanhood, Scholarship, Service and Sisterhood, the principles set forth by a sisterhood known as Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated on May 27, 1939. Zeta was founded on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C., 19 years earlier; but nine determined young women decided that this was the type of community-conscious, action-oriented organization and sisterhood that Memphis longed for. The time had come to form ZETA PHI BETA SORORITY, INCORPORATED in Memphis, Tennessee.
Working from a blueprint, nine women dared to be different and began what later, hundreds of women would eventually join Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated's ASTOUNDING ALPHA ETA ZETA CHAPTER. Many thanks and much love to those nine women: Soror Pytee S. Bolden, Soror Winnie L. Foster Hill, Soror Myrtle D. Hudson, Soror Bernice Roberts McClellan, Soror Ruth Hillard McDavid, Soror Bernice West Scaggs, Soror Evelyn Clark Tucker, Soror Elmira J. Williams, and Soror Carlotta Stewart Watson. The nine charter members were community service oriented and engaged in the fields of education and social work in Memphis, Tennessee. Soror Carlotta Stewart Watson became the first President and guided the members as they utilized their leadership skills and talents to implement the sorority’s ideals of Scholarship, Service, Sisterhood and Finer Womanhood. The chapter became the immediate sponsor of the Pi Alpha Chapter at LeMoyne-Owen College, also chartered in 1939, and much later the Rho Gamma Chapter in 1968 at Memphis State University (now The University of Memphis), Alpha Mu Chapter in 1982 at Christian Brothers University and Nu Phi Chapter in 2018 at Rhodes College. The Alpha Eta Zeta Chapter sponsors the Amicae of Memphis (Friends of Zeta); as well as all three national youth affiliates: the Pearlettes, Amicettes and Archonettes.
For over eighty (80) years, Alpha Eta Zeta has coordinated hundreds of events ranging from financial workshops, community health fairs, voter registration drives, candidate debate forums and much more. The chapter prides itself on being the conduit to bring members of the community together from all walks of life. We are here simply to serve others and will do the work to ensure that an impact is made. Earlier in the chapter's inception, the Alpha Eta Zeta Chapter became the liaison with the Memphis Junior League, and began to provide eyeglasses for the needy school children. Today this project is known as the infamous Eyeglass Project. Other charitable projects have included visits and contributions to: Goodwill homes, Orange Mound Day Nursery, Jessie Mahan Center, Children’s Bureau, Shelby County Hospital, Millington Naval Base, Veteran’s Administration Hospital, Stork’s Nest, NAACP, the United Negro College Fund and many more. In the fall of 2008, Alpha Eta Zeta established a separate non-profit organization to increase the capacity in which they could provide assistance to the community. The Alpha Eta Zeta DOVE Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization established to foster the ideals of service, scholarship and unity among mankind. Through the foundation, the Zetas of Memphis are able to award scholarships to deserving area high school students on an annual basis. The scholarships recognize the achievements and potential of recipients to assist them financially with their pursuit of higher education. This effort was led by Donna R. Williams.
The Astounding Alpha Eta Zeta chapter, along with the Prolific Pi Alpha, Resplendent Rho Gamma, Alluring Alpha Mu and Numinous Nu Phi chapters continue to be a community-conscious, action-oriented service organization, fulfilling the goals of our founding and beloved Sorors.
The Prolific Pi Alpha Chapter was chartered on the campus of Lemoyne-Owen College, the only Historically Black College and University in Memphis, TN, in April 1939 by 5 zealous ladies, Mabel Hudson-Gooden, Mildred Taylor-Young, Octavia Small-Coffee, Ardel Louis-Williams and Freddie Bell Perkins. Since 1939, women of distinction and high morals have came through this chapter and have embarked on successful paths letting their Zeta lights shine wherever they go. Members of the Prolific Pi Alpha chapter have been members of the LeMoyne-Owen Royal Court, Lady Magicians basketball team, Student Government Association and many more.
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, Rho Gamma Chapter was chartered on May 1968 on the campus of University of Memphis, then known as Memphis State University with the help of AHZ Member Carlotta Stewart Watson. The charter members are Linda Ayers Paige, Rosie Billups, Donna Davis, Irma Davis, Bertha Delapp, Paulette Mason, Maxine Kirby, Eleanor Porter, Lavon Terry, Francis Willis, Julia Earle, Clara Franklin, Easie Ford, Bernice Hargraves, Sherron Holmes, Erma James, Linda Miller, Deborah Peters, Mildred Scott, and Thelma Townsend. Since then, the Resplendent Rho Gamma Chapter has made a great impact on the campus, along with their active membership in many organizations on campus such as RHA, Black Scholars Unlimited, Golden Key Honors Society, SAC, SGA, Order of Omega, and the Black Student Association to name a few.
The Alluring Alpha Mu Chapter was chartered on the campus of Christian Brothers University, CBU, on August 23, 1982 by 8 dovely ladies, Cheryl Wallace, Andrea Pryor, Darlene Stewart, Carmen Wallace, Audrey Johnson, Lillian White, Vanessa Hawkins, and Jacqueline Tate. The chapter was rechartered on January 22, 2010 and since then they have exemplified the principles of Zeta throughout their various activities and programs on CBU's campus and within the Memphis, TN community.
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. initiated two young women, AnDrea Hargrove and Jada Myricks on the campus of Rhodes College on December 2, 2017 under the Alpha Eta Zeta (AHZ) Chapter. Since their initiation, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. - AHZ has hosted several events and won 2nd place in the NPHC Welcome Week Stroll-Off. With the help of Alpha Eta Zeta member, Dannitria “Danni” Williams, we have succeeded in our quest to engrave the light on Zeta on this campus. On November 2, 2018, the Nu Phi Chapter for Rhodes College in Memphis, TN was finally chartered. On November 9, 2018, we were able to induct three more members, Ericka James, Cinthya Bolanos and Jackie Jiang, into our Zealous sisterhood. The Nu Phi Chapter hosted an Open to Public Chartering Reception on November 19, 2018 to thank members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., National Pan-Hellenic Council and Rhodes College staff for their support during this journey.