Saving the Letters
There are nine historically African-American Greek-lettered organizations (fraternities and sororities):
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (1906)
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (1908)
Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc (1911)
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc (1911)
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (1913)
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inic. (1914)
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. (1920)
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc (1922)
Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. (1963)
These international organizations are often collectively referred to as the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) or "The Divine Nine." Many members of these organizations chose to represent their organization by wearing paraphernalia (also known as "para" or "nalia" or "letters"), displaying the organization's greek letters, symbols and/or well-known phrases. This paraphernalia may be as small as a lapel pin or as large as a jacket or coat. As a part of the NPHC culture, it's a symbol of pride, respect and dignity towards the respective organization. The items should only be worn by a member of the respective organization and sales of these items are typically limited to approved vendors/companies. Items are typically purchased by an NPHC organization member or gifted to them by family or friends. When apparel or accessories are no longer wanted or the member is deceased, most (if not all) NPHC organizations have protocol in place to re-gift, repurpose or properly destroy sorority or fraternity-related items.
Unfortunately, there may be instances where item holders or print shops may not know the proper protocol and the items are donated to thrift stores and charity organizations. Recipients or buyers of these donated items, who aren't members of an NPHC organization, may be unaware of the history and protocol. At no fault to them, they may chose to purchase or wear the items simply because of the quality or aesthetics.
As a member of the first African-American Greek-letter sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, I have taken on the mission to save NPHC "letters" from being worn by individuals who are not members of the organization. When I come across these items in thrift stores, I purchase and recycle the item(s) back to a member within the respective organization.