Greek Life

What are Greek step shows all about?

These sororities and fraternities at Syracuse University show what all black Greeks do: Step correct!

Black fraternities and sororities have been a huge part of the black college experience for more than a century.

They have taught, trained, encouraged and uplifted millions of members since 1906, when the first of the Divine Nine (the name given to the nine original black fraternities and sororities) were formed. The first black fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, was founded in 1906. Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first black sorority, would be founded two years later in 1908.

At Syracuse University recently, six Greek organizations — chapters of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi and Phi Beta Sigma — put on their spring step show, hosted by longtime show producer Keith “Suede” DosReis Jr.

“This is one of the most anticipated step shows in the upstate New York area. The Syracuse University Greek Unity Fest galvanizes students from New York City to Buffalo and has produced some of the most intense step team rivalries on the East Coast. I’m proud to be a part of this 20-plus-year tradition and thank the Syracuse students for inviting me back for the sixth time,” said DosReis.

But becoming a member means more than step shows, wearing some Greek letters and being popular on campus. The stepping builds camaraderie, teamwork, pride, achievement and a bond that links generations. Black fraternities and sororities on historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and predominantly white campuses are known for their step shows, which are a mix of choreography, singing, music and theater.

“As the first national step show producer and host, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to travel and meet some of the best step teams in the nation,” said DosReis. “Some of these teams have been featured in movies and on TV. Stepping is an art form that is infectious and has produced college, youth, church and social groups’ step teams.”

Like HBCUs, black fraternities and sororities were created out of necessity to serve and protect African-American communities. But these images of young black men and women are just what we see when they are in college. After graduation, they become educators, politicians, lawyers, doctors, pro athletes, journalists, engineers and entrepreneurs, just to name a few professions.