Black students make up 10.2% at USC of the student body and remain a minority on a campus with a history of racism and discrimination.
It's in these conditions that the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), an organization of eight of the nine historically Black sororities and fraternities, was created on campus.
NPHC was formed to provide a safe place for Black students to provide service to their community, Marsharia Adams, the programming chair of NPHC and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, said.
“Each NPHC organization was founded during a time when African Americans were denied essential rights and privileges afforded others," Adams said. "Race, racial isolation on predominantly white campuses in social barriers of class, and all campuses created a need for African Americans to align themselves with other individuals sharing common goals and ideals."
Today, NPHC promotes recognition for aspects of Black history that may go unnoticed by students at predominately white institutions. For example, Black greek life was only established at USC after the Black fraternities threatened legal action against the school, forcing them to concede.
One way the council advocates for the Black community is by planning an NPHC monument to build on campus.
USC is the only college in the SEC without an NPHC monument on campus. The council is working on having one by 2023 and is in the process of getting price estimates and finding a location.
"So a bunch of places have maybe like a gazebo, or they have stone pathways," Laurynn Jeter, the vice president of NPHC and of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, said. "So for us, we're working on creating our own unique monument."
The main function of NPHC is to be a place of unity within the eight active organizations to be able to coordinate and organize events. The council hopes the monument will continue to help in this effort.
"The NPHC monument usually is on campuses, just as either a programming site where they can do things like the step show — or other events — or just for scenery,"Jeter said.
The organization recently held a Strolling Through History event during Black History Month where five of the eight organizations showcased their history and accomplishments through step and stroll routines.
However, NPHC's biggest event takes place during Homecoming week in the fall.
"The Homecoming special — that's probably like the biggest event of the entire year, as far as I'm concerned. That's when all of our alumni come back, all the different chapters from other schools come in and support," Devin Williams, the president of NPHC and of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated, said.
NPHC promotes the accomplishments of all its organizations by having them work together to plan events and projects that will benefit the university as a whole, according to Jeter.
“It's all about sharing our love for each other and then just making sure we're united, and that we can all come to a consensus at the end of the day,” Jeter said.
Correction (March 24, 2022 at 1:51 p.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the percentage of Black students at the University of South Carolina's Columbia campus.