The Latin@ Greek Movement

An overview of fraternities and how Lambda Theta Phi began a movement
On December 5, 1776, Phi Beta Kappa, today a scholarly honor society, appeared at the College of William and Mary. This student club, organized for social and literary purposes, was probably the first to adopt a Greek name.

In time, additional Greek-letter clubs emerged on the college campus. Their Greek names, secret rituals, badges, and grips set them apart from other student clubs. Normally guided by specific purposes and ideals, some Greek-letter organizations developed with a design to recruit specific individuals, whether based on race, national origin, religious affiliation or academic interests. An example is the Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity, established on December 29, 1998, for Jewish college men. Another example is Alpha Phi Alpha, founded on December 4, 1906, for African-American men.

Historically, the older Greek-letter societies primarily attracted students of Anglo and African-American descent. Almost two hundred years later after the first Greek-letter organization appeared on a college campus, a Latin fraternity was born – the first of its kind by identity and name – Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc.

Some scholars believe college fraternities were inspired by ancient Greeks who met in secret to discuss what were viewed as radical ideas. Others believe the ancient Greek model for these societies was taken from secret societies in Africa that pre-date Plato or Socrates. Most agree there is a direct link between fraternities and the Free Masons.

When colleges and universities were first started, the schools were very restrictive. As a result, different types of organizations were formed to create an avenue for discussion, thought, and social activities. After a few years, these literary societies formed organized structures, elected officers, and had their own secret colors, symbols, and mottoes. A few of these societies later became social fraternities. One of these secret societies was the Secret Literary Society where radical views among students were expressed in private because the colleges/universities prohibited students to discuss anything other than prescribed work. These socities were secret and each had its own color, motto, badge, etc. The last of these social societies founded was the Secret College Fraternity. The purpose of these early fraternities was similar to those of the early literary societies. At this time, many literary societies had become influenced by faculty control, and the formation of secret fraternities was to avoid all together any outside control of their activities. 

The first secret college society was The Flat Hat Club 1750-very similar to literary societies except incorporated social activities as a part of its intended purpose. Thomas Jefferson was a member. Since 1772, there has been no record of the Flat Hat Club being in existence. In 1751 the P.D.A. Society, the first society to use letters of its motto as the name of society, was formed. Members had little regard for scholarship; they preferred social aspects of college fraternities. This society also refused to admit anyone who considered themselves a “Greek” scholar. An offended “Hellenist” then organized his own secret society, and thus started the trend for Greek-lettered organizations. The first Greek-lettered society was Phi Beta Kappa. It was founded in 1776 with many connections to Masonry including; documented membership of Phi Beta Kappas in lodge, and practice of chartering new chapters in other locations which many believe was taken directly from Masonry.

Fraternities were typically White male (usually Christian) organizations. In 1906 the first “Black Fraternity,” Alpha Phi Alpha was founded at Cornell University providing African-American males the same opportunities for networking and brotherhood that were not available to them from other such organizations. In 1975, the first “Latino” fraternity, Lambda Theta Phi was founded at Kean University. Although none of these organizations discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, creed or policy they have remained predominantly homogeneous.

It is a fact that in 1975, when Lambda Theta Phi was founded, there were no Latino fraternities or Latina sororities in existence in the United States. Lambda Theta Phi originated the concept of embracing the ideals of brotherhood, Latino unity, cultural awareness, and community service within the Greek-letter fraternity, all for the progress and empowerment of our people. 

Since the inception of Lambda, the Greek community has witnessed the emergence of many Latino fraternities and sororities. In fact, by 2005, three decades after the establishment of Lambda, there were approximately 13 Latino fraternities and 29 Latina sororities in the United States. Many of these Latino-based, Greek-letter organizations adhere to ideals similar to those of Lambda Theta Phi – a concept originated by fourteen young, Latinos back in 1975. Who were these visionaries with a dream? Who were these leaders who would forever change the face of the Greek system? 
The Founding Fathers of Lambda Theta Phi.

Our brotherhood welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with our fellow Latino Greeks on initiatives for our educational advancement, for our professional development and, most importantly, for the betterment of our community.

“En la unión está la fuerza.”

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