Sisterhood: Zeta Phi Beta

Story and photos by Juliana Kampf

In 1920, five women formed the historically black Greek sorority Zeta Phi Beta at Howard University. In 1980, that sorority came to Central Michigan University. Still present today, the Sigma Kappa chapter at CMU carries on the powerful tradition of strolling.

Strolling is a ritual that comes from African culture when tribes would dance in circles to express unity and strength within their community. This type of expression and connectedness is still found in the traditions of strolling and stepping in black Greek organizations.

Strolling has become a sort of competitive art form. Entire events surround National Panhellenic Council organizations performing their strolls and steps. Sometimes, the choreography is used for the expression of the specific sorority or fraternity and sometimes it is used to bite back at other organizations.

Mount Pleasant senior Jasmine Merritt, Detroit senior Chloe White and Lansing junior Gabrielle Mason are three sisters of the CMU Zeta Phi Beta chapter. They allowed Grand Central Magazine to capture some of their strolls and take a closer look at what Zeta Phi Beta and sisterhood means to them.

“My sisters, both my advisers and my chapter, have caused me to grow in many aspects. In adaptability, understanding and love. Strolling is not just for entertainment, but connectivity. It’s a huge part of the NPHC community…” Merritt said.

“Being a part of a sorority has pushed me to open up myself entirely to women that I never thought I would have come in contact with. It’s made me vulnerable to the point that I am able to fully grow as an individual with the help of my sisters. They have taught me to be a bigger and better image of myself. It’s not just about sisterhood, but the impact and growth you have on the greater community.”