Black Greeks are pivotal in black history, culture, community, and college campuses (predominately in HBCUs). One of the Black Greek organizations I will detail is Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. The fraternity, founded at Howard University, celebrated its Founders Day on January 9th, marking its 109th anniversary.
I interviewed the 36th International President of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc, Honorable Chris Rey, JD, to discuss the fraternity’s mark in the community, brotherhood, and future. Since 1914, the fraternity has been on the frontline in the black community through the dimensions of times while upholding its mission and values. “Through the 35 past administrators, we understood that we had a responsibility to continue to move the mantel for not only our members but our community because we understood who we’re representing”, Rey stated.
Rey highlighted some of the organization’s community initiatives. With the PBS Impact One Program, the fraternity utilizes its investment to help position them to continue impacting communities – expanding its programs, financially supporting black businesses, and providing scholarships to students. The fraternity takes a stand against police brutality affecting black communities. The fraternity was one of the first organizations to put out a statement on the murder of Tyre Nichols and support the George Floyd Justice Policing Act. The Sigmas are actively involved in social action by speaking out on issues concerning the black community, participating in peaceful marches, and challenging policies that affect the community.
The spirit of their late member, John Lewis (Civil Rights Activist and Politician), carries on for Phi Beta Sigma, as they were at the forefront of ensuring voting equality under the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Rey shared that they also tackle issues like human trafficking and affordable housing. “We continue this work because we understand what’s at stake. I’m proud to be the president and see the work my brothers are doing around the globe”, stated Rey.
Men are valuable assets in this world. Phi Beta Sigma promotes the overall well-being of men’s health through its Sigma Health initiative, hoping for men, especially black men, to take charge of their health and be productive amongst the community and families.
Rey joined the brotherhood as an undergraduate at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. His life mirrors the great work black men are doing in the community. The Virgin Islands and Spring Lake, NC native is a proud veteran, serving his country for 22 years. He’s highly engaged in the community and fraternity. He became Spring Lake, NC’s youngest mayor in 2011 – elected for three terms. As a leader and black man, he shared his happiness in the organization’s glistening “blue and white” light in the community and his fellow brothers making a universal impact through their professions.
Phi Beta Sigma also candidly appeared in the Netflix television episode, Family Reunion, featuring Loretta Divine and Tia Mowry, highlighting the culture of black fraternities and HBCUs. Rey shared that he wanted to use every medium to tell the Sigma story to the world.
Phi Beta Sigma is going in the right direction while upholding its beloved founder’s ideologies. A world-class corporate headquarters, including a 4-story affordable apartment complex on the 4th floor, is in the works. Rey shared that this project will be a game changer in the community.
That’s just the beginning. The project in Washington, DC, will be the first of many initiatives the organization plans on doing across the country in the coming years. “We’re implementing ways to get black men healthy in our various communities – partner with clinics that focus on men’s health and how to build our hospital as an organization,” Rey stated.
Phi Beta Sigma launched a 501c4 Sigma Pact in honor of the late John Lewis, which allows members to leverage their political voice as an organization. Lastly, the Phi Beta Sigma Impact Foundation, the 501c3 arm of the fraternity, is a massive driver in identifying grants from private organizations and government agencies that allow the fraternity to further its work in the community.
The Sigmas continues to be a beacon of “blue and white” light in the lives of others with their initiatives. Rey is appreciative of the profound impact fraternity is making. Rey’s favorite quote, which has been his life’s driving factor, comes from the bible, “Through God all things are possible” Matthew 19:26. “We have accomplished a lot since we stepped off the ships from slavery to stepping in the halls of congress and stepping into positions where we’re able to make an impact on the lives of millions worldwide,” stated Rey.