Zeta Phi Beta Sorority was founded January 16, 1920 on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. by five coeds. These women dared to depart from the traditional coalitions for Black women and sought to establish a new organization predicated on the precepts of Scholarship, Service, Sisterhood and Finer Womanhood. The trail blazed by the founders has been traversed by thousands of women dedicated to the emulation of the objectives and ideals of the Sorority. The Sorority was the first Greek-letter organization to charter a chapter in Africa (1948); to form adult and youth auxiliary groups, the Amicae, Archonettes, Amicettes, and Pearlettes.
The Sorority is the first and only to be constitutionally bound to a brother organization, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated. Zeta’s national and local programs include endowment of its National Educational Foundation; community outreach services; and support of multiple affiliate organizations. Zeta chapters and auxiliary groups have given untotaled hours of voluntary service to educate the public, assist youth, provide scholarships, support organized charities and promote legislation for social and civic change. A nonprofit organization, Zeta Phi Beta is incorporated in Washington, D.C. and in the state of Illinois. The Sorority is supported by the dues and gifts of its members.
Seven years after the founding of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, the first chapter was chartered in what is now the Midwestern Region. In 1927 Pi chapter was established in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to extend the boundary of Zeta westward. Ellen N. Stout was the inspiration for this new chapter. Pi chapter gave Zeta the distinction of becoming the first Greek-letter organization established in that city.
The young chapter struggled with introducing Greek life to the city of Tulsa and after one year became inactive. The chapter remained dormant for eight years. However, E. Juanita Tate, a graduate of Theta Chapter at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, where Zeta was strong, and a charter member of Pi Chapter, rekindled the spirit of Zeta women in Tulsa. Through her leadership, Pi Chapter was re-activated in November 1935.
In that same year Juanita received the following telegram from Grand Basileus Violette N. Anderson: “I have created a new region, named it Southwest and you are the director.” Juanita replied, “There is nothing in the Southwest to direct but my chapter and I am it’s basileus.” Grand Basileus Anderson responded, “That’s your job. Get something to direct!”
With this commission, Juanita began a flurry of organizing activity in the new Southwest region. Eight chapters were chartered within six years:
The first Boulé in the region was held in December 1944. At the next meeting of the Executive Board the regions were reconstructed, and Missouri was placed in the newly organized West-Southwest Region. LeeElla Blake-Gaskin, charter member of Alpha Epsilon Zeta in Kansas City, Kansas, was appointed regional director. During LeeElla’s tenure, Zeta was expanded with two more chapters: Beta Beta Chapter (now Omega Theta) at the University of Kansas at Lawrence in 1945 and Rho Chapter at Kansas State Teachers College at Pittsburg in 1946. Pi Chapter of Tulsa became a graduate chapter, Alpha Iota Zeta, on November 10, 1945; and another graduate chapter, Beta Phi Zeta, was chartered in Langston, Oklahoma, on April 13, 1946. In 1947 Lelia Lovejoy of Chi Zeta in Oklahoma City became regional director. She was energetic and personable and anxious for Zeta to grow in her area. Beta Psi Zeta in Omaha, Nebraska, and Alpha Nu Zeta in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, were chartered during her term as regional director, and the name of the region was changed to Central Region.
During the administration of Lucille Nelson Richardson of Xi Zeta Chapter in St. Louis, Missouri, the name of the region was changed to its present designation, the Midwestern region.
In the decades since, the boundaries of Zeta were extended to include Colorado. The first chapter in Colorado, Zeta Zeta Zeta, was chartered in Denver on July 2, 1960. There are now two active undergraduate chapters: Tau Kappa at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Omicron Omicron at Colorado State University at Fort Collins.
Development continued in Oklahoma with the forming of Beta Gamma undergraduate city chapter in Oklahoma City on February 13, 1960, and Zeta Epsilon Zeta chapter in Lawton on November 11, 1960. In Missouri, Eta Zeta Zeta Chapter was chartered in Kansas City in October 1969. Xi Beta was chartered on the campus of Lincoln University, Jefferson City, while Theta Nu Zeta became the graduate chapter in that city.
The first chapter in Iowa, Nu Mu Zeta, was chartered December 31, 1986. Iowa now has two undergraduate chapters: Pi Kappa at the University of Iowa City and Upsilon Nu at Iowa State University in Ames. The latest chapters to be added to the sisterhood in the Midwest are Tau Omicron at southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau in April, 1994, and Upsilon Omicron at Northeast Missouri State University in Kirksville.
Challenged by both a culturally and geographically diverse population, the Midwestern Region grew to 11 states with 15 undergraduate chapters, 16 graduate chapters, and 8 Stork’s Nests.
The region has attracted and produced women of the highest caliber in integrity and leadership who have served on the national, regional, state, and local levels of Zeta. The region salutes all of its members who have given their talents and resources to further the cause of Zeta in the “Heartland of the Midwest.” Especially do we pay tribute to those who have carried the torch of leadership as regional director; E. Juanita Tate, LeeElla Blake-Gaskin, Lelia Lovejoy, Lola Greer, Lucille Nelson Richardson, Willa Green Peevy, Jewell Livingston, Sylvia Lewis, Amos Yerger, Elece C. Dempsey, Ersaline Porchia, Alma F. Washington, Margaret N. Roberts, Norma J. Collins, Lisa Givens, and Lillian Marigny.
For more than half a century, the women of the Midwest have forged the rich heritage of Zeta with the independent spirit of pioneers to bring Zeta’s commitment to scholarship, service, and finer womanhood into the communities of the “heartland” of America.
In Missouri, Eta Zeta Zeta Chapter was chartered in Kansas City in October 1969. Xi Beta was chartered on the campus of Lincoln University, Jefferson City, while Theta Nu Zeta became the graduate chapter in that city. Missouri has grown its sisterhood to 6 Graduate Chapters and 9 Undergraduate Chapters and a host of members participating in the Amicae and Youth Auxiliaries.
The first chapter in Iowa, Nu Mu Zeta was chartered December 31, 1986. Iowa now has 5 Graduate Chapters and 2 Undergraduate Chapters Pi Kappa, University of Iowa and Upsilon Nu, Iowa State University.
The latest chapters to be added and reactivated to the sisterhood are Pi Kappa, University of Iowa, Mu Nu, Wichita, Kansas, Pi Sigma, Baker University, Theta Pi, Southwest Missouri State University, Rho Sigma, University of Missouri Kansas City, Tau Sigma, Missouri Western University, Phi Nu Zeta, Florissant, MO, Omega Sigma, Northwest Missouri State University, Phi Beta Zeta, Tulsa OK, Phi Tau Zeta, Laramie, Wyoming.
Challenged by both a culturally and geographically diverse population, the Midwestern Region has grown to 11 states with 24 Graduate Chapters, 22 Undergraduate Chapters, and 45 Storks Nests the most in the organization. The Midwestern Region held its first Undergraduate Retreat in Warrensburg, MO, September 2007.
We pay a special tribute to those who have carried the torch of leadership as Regional Director: E. Juanita Tate, LeeElla Blake-Gaskin, Lelia Lovejoy, Lola Greer, Lucille Nelson Richardson, Willa Green Peevy, Jewell Livingston, Sylvia Lewis, Amos Yerger, Elece C. Dempsey, Ersaline Porchia, Alma F. Washington, Margaret N. Roberts, Norma J. Collins, Lisa Givens, Lillian Marigny, Zola Drain, Antoinette “Toni” Gordon,Lonnie Dafney and Samantha Hughes.