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On a corner of East Campus Mall, at the Vilas Green, stands a pillar of the UW–Madison community — actually, nine pillars. Opened on May 7, 2022, the Divine Nine Plaza’s steel panels demonstrate the enduring fortitude and strength of the Black community’s contributions to campus. The Divine Nine are the historically Black fraternities and sororities that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC). Currently seven of the nine organizations are chartered on campus: Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, and Phi Beta Sigma (fraternities) and Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, and Zeta Phi Beta (sororities). Rooted in the common goals of academic excellence, community building, philanthropy, and advocacy, these organizations and their members have maintained an influential position on UW’s campus in the face of decades of exclusion and resistance. Since 1946, the NPHC at UW–Madison has been “a cornerstone for the survival of communities of color on this campus.” Now its member organizations have been, literally, solidified by this physical commemoration. Arranged in a circular formation, the pillars represent not only each individual organization but the collective power of the Divine Nine as a whole, with none coming first or last.

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