The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities by Lawrence C. Ross, Jr.
This history of black fraternities and sororities confirms the underlying purpose of these institutions: to provide a supportive educational environment for their members during college and social and business networks beyond college. Ross notes the substantial variation on the specific circumstances behind the formation of black fraternities and sororities.
For example, Alpha Phi Alpha was formed at Cornell University just after the turn of the last century to counterbalance extreme racial hostilities aimed at the few black students. Shortly thereafter, in the more protective environment of predominantly black Howard University, Omega Psi Phi was formed.More recently (1963), older commuter students at Morgan State formed Iota Phi Theta.
The underlying theme in all cases was camaraderie with a special emphasis on providing support to minorities in hostile environments, whether on campus or the broader racial environment of the U.S. Ross profiles several members of black fraternities and sororities, many of them prominent, and notes the contributions the groups have made to black leadership in the U.S. Vernon Ford. <book link>