For the past 109 years, the men of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated have been committed to service. And now, they are bringing that service to the Bayou City for their annual national conference, which is expected to bring 8,000 people to town.
This is the first time the Sigma’s national convention has been in Houston in 50 years.
Operating under the theme, “Believe in Our Power, Leading the Movement” members from Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico hope to shine the light on issues impacting the African American community while also participating in business meetings, social activities, community service, and honoring local leaders during their convention which will be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center. More than 4,000 registered Sigmas, along with their wives and families, are expected to converge on downtown Houston for the event which runs through July 17.
“Culture For Service and Service For Humanity”
Phi Beta Sigma was founded on the campus of Howard University in 1914 to promote brotherhood, scholarship and service. The international organization has been instrumental in the establishment of the Phi Beta Sigma National Foundation, the Phi Beta Sigma Federal Credit Union and The Sigma Beta Club Foundation. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, founded in 1920 with the assistance of Phi Beta Sigma, is the sister organization of the Fraternity.
“Phi Beta Sigma has always been on the forefront from the very beginning, focusing on social injustice, economic empowerment of our members, continued pursuit of education and us always putting our arms around young people and mentoring them at each level. And we’ve done that now for 109 years,” said International President, Chris V. Rey, J.D., who has led the organization for two years. “So, as we enter into this new chapter in our organization’s history, we’re excited about some of the new initiatives that we’re focused on as an organization.”
One of those initiatives includes the demolishing and rebuilding of the organization’s international headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Rey says ultimately, besides expanding the initiative to cities like Houston, they’re working on creating health clinics for men and building a hospital for the community.
Boosting the community
The group’s presence is expected to bring a significant economic boost to the city, to the tune of $5-10 million.
“We, first and foremost, handle the business of the fraternity. We take a look at our constitution, we make any additions or subtraction from it, improvements, development of new policies, etc. Then we make sure that we focus on re-energizing our brotherhood to go back out into the world for another two years to do the work that we have committed and recommitted ourselves to,” Rey said.
“While we’re in the city, we are preparing for some of the service projects that we’re gonna be doing around the city, like the teddy bear drive for one of the local hospitals. We’re asking our brothers to bring neckties that we will donate to local schools for young men. We’re going to have workshops for the community. We’re gonna be encouraging our brothers from around the world and we have our vendor expo, which will be more conducive to the community and give them an opportunity to engage and plug in with us.”
The expo will feature vendors discussing health issues and amenities that can benefit the Black community, educational workshops and more.
“From an economic standpoint, the city of Houston will absolutely know that the men of Phi Beta Sigma will be there. We have booked 12 downtown hotels,” Rey said.
When you add the thousands registered for the conference, the food and beverage, transportation, and souvenir shopping, along with the sold-out hotels, tourism leaders say it’s a win for the city.
The fraternity will also recognize local leaders for the work that they’ve done.
“We recognize that the work that we do in the community takes a partnership, so we’ll be recognizing individuals who are not a part of Phi Beta Sigma,” Rey said. “It’s important that we not only partner with other organizations, but there are other people who are quiet warriors who have been doing good work, and we want to make sure that we take an opportunity to give them their flowers, as well,” Rey added. “When it’s all said and done and we’ve wrapped up our conference, we hope that the city of Houston, will, number one, know that Phi Beta Sigma was there, but that we’ve made a positive impact through the work that we would’ve been doing.”
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About Phi Beta Sigma
Founded: January 9, 1914, Howard University
Motto: “Culture For Service and Service For Humanity”
Headquarters: Washington, D.C.
Famous Sigmas: Victor Glover, Dr. Roderick Paige, Kase Lawal, Wayne Brady, Ben Vereen, Morris Chestnut, Blair Underwood, Terrence Howard, Bootsy Collins, Al Sharpton, Al Roker, Les Brown, Reginald Hudlin, Bill Clinton, Bill Duke, John Lewis, Harry Belafonte, James Weldon Johnson, George Washington Carver