Our Legacy


Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. Founder’s Dinner

Founded on the campus of  Howard University in Washington D.C. on January 16, 1920, Zeta Phi Beta was established to Service all communities, promote the importance of Scholarship, celebrate the bond of Sisterhood, all while perfecting the gift of Finer Womanhood. Zeta Phi Beta’s rich history stands tall today as we celebrate 90 plus years of a sisterhood that has continued to thrive and flourish while adapting to the ever-changing needs of a new century.

Zeta began as an idea conceived by five coeds, Arizona Cleaver, Myrtle Tyler, Viola Tyler, Fannie Pettie and Pearl Neal. These five women, also known as our Five Pearls, dared to depart from the traditional coalitions for black women and 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. Founder Viola Tyler was oft quoted to say “[In the ideal collegiate situation] there is a Zeta in a girl regardless of race, creed, or color, who has high standards and principles, a good scholarly average and an active interest in all things that she undertakes to accomplish.”

Zeta Phi Beta has chronicled a number of its firsts, allowing it to stand out amongst historically Black sororities. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. was the first sorority to charter a chapter in Africa in 1948, the first to develop adult and youth auxiliary groups, the first to operate business in a headquarters with a paid staff, and the first to be constitutionally bound to a brother fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.