The Atlanta Hawks Honor HBCU Fraternities and Sororities with their First-Ever Divine Nine Night
The Atlanta Hawks continue to find innovative ways to engage and honor members of their fanbase and surrounding community. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have produced some of the nation's most respected and influential leaders. From Martin Luther King, who attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Former Mayor of Atlanta Keisha Lance Bottoms (Florida A&M University), to our current Vice President Kamala Harris, a proud alum of Howard University. These notable leaders are also proud members of the fraternities and sororities that have become one of the most treasured pieces of the HBCU experience. Martin Luther King crossed as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Inc. in 1952. Kiesha Lance Bottoms is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., and Vice President Kamala Harris is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. For nearly 100 years, the member organizations of the National Pan-Hellenic Council have played a vital role in developing leaders and helping students of HBCUs serve their schools and surrounding communities.
The Atlanta Hawks, in partnership with State Farm, recognized the contributions HBCU Fraternities and Sororities have made to the community and decided to honor those organizations with their first "Divine Nine Night." Camye Mackey, Executive VP and Chief People Diversity Equity Officer for the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena, said, "We've historically had an HBCU Night, which was a combination of our HBCUs and our Divine Nine. The night was such a big success, and when we looked at our Divine Nine and saw the amazing work they do in the community, we said why not? Let's have a night especially devoted to them..." The Hawks started the night with the Hawks Entertainment Band marching in the Lobby of State Farm Arena, followed by invited members of nearby Divine Nine Fraternities and Sororities. Melvin Miller, a noted jazz musician and member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., performed the National Anthem.
There was also a step performance highlighting and celebrating each member organization of the Pan Hellenic Council. Former Mayor of Atlanta Keisha Lance Bottoms and US House candidate Nikema Williams joined in on the night's fun by making an appearance in their Delta Sigma Theta and Alpha Kappa Alpha paraphernalia. The Hawks also honored their employees that were members of Divine Nine organizations. Ms. Mackey said, "To create this night, ... we partnered with the Greater Atlanta Pan Hellenic Council, and they worked with our internal team to really talk about some fun elements that we could do
tonight to make it a great success."
One of the night's major highlights was the presentation of a $50,000 GAP scholarship to the Greater Atlanta PHC from the Atlanta Hawks in partnership with State Farm. This donation will provide financial aid to students of the Divine Nine who cannot fund their college expenses with scholarships. When asked about the initiative to give this GAP scholarship to students of the Divine Nine, State Farm Vice President of Operations Tyrone Smith, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, stated, "The initiative really helps people recover from the unexpected. We know the contributions that members of the Divine Nine have on our communities and neighborhoods. It's a great opportunity for us to help some of those individuals recover from the unexpected. By being able to provide some scholarship money, to be able to partner with the National Pan Hellenic, it's a win-win for all involved."
The President of the Greater Atlanta Chapter of the National Pan Hellenic Council, Jamal Grooms, said, "We're excited about the scholarship donation and what it's going to do for the kids that are in our scholarship program." Mr. Grooms said, " I'm a first-generation (college graduate), and I can remember needing that type of money. When you are a kid, you're first generation, and you come from a home where there are no funds, and there aren't any resources, it's really a blessing when somebody can say, here we're going to give you this amount. So we're excited to be in a position to offer money to support some young people that are trying to further their education."
According to both Atlanta Hawks EVP Camey Mackey and State Farm VP of Operation Tyrone Smith, this is just one of the initiatives to honor the rich tradition and impact of HBCUs. Mackey stated, "In February, we have a lot planned, we'll have our HBCU Night, and we'll have some new fun elements that we haven't done before, so come back and check us out."
While it was an excellent night for HBCUs and the fans of the Divine Nine, it was also a great night for the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks defeated the surging New Orleans Pelicans and their returning star Zion Williamson in overtime, 124-121. This victory marks back-to-back wins for the Hawks after losses to the Bucks and the Raptors. The Hawks will look to avenge their earlier season loss and keep their winning streak going against the undefeated Bucks tonight.