The Divine Nine boasts 2.5 million members worldwide, including some of the most influential and powerful Black people in the country and the Biden administration. That includes Vice President Kamala Harris, Office of Public Engagement Director Cedric Richmond, and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a leading Biden ally in the Congress. Unlike many of their other fraternity and sorority counterparts, where participation typically ends with college graduation, the Divine Nine organizations tend to be a lifelong active commitment, with strong connections and influence in the Black community. And they are ready to bring an orchestra of “skee-wees,” “roos,” and “oo-oops” to the White House grounds. “We've been at this for quite a while and have had people in so many seats on those political tables for years. And we know that that makes a huge difference in terms of making sure that your voice is significant in terms of what it could do,” said Beverly Smith, current National President of Delta Sigma Theta, Incorporated. “So it's the start of discussion with this administration, but it's work the Divine Nine has been doing since its inception.” The Biden White House sees the group as a particularly effective conduit of information to and from their own members and the Black community at large. “People should not underestimate the power of the Divine. And that is collectively and individually as fraternities and sororities,” Richmond said in an interview. “Their reach is long and their reach is deep. And so for us, you don't get that many organizations who affect such a broad swath of people.” “I think it just makes perfect sense to have them at the table, be able to communicate our accomplishments, yes, but I also hear from them on their priorities and other things,” Richmond added. Harris hosted an hour-long, in-person meeting with the Council of Presidents of the nine sororities and fraternities in her ceremonial office on Oct. 6 she requested — the first time all nine organizations have been invited to the White House to meet with a president or vice president, according to attendees and a White House official. Such a meeting didn't even occur under the first Black president, Barack Obama. The administration has also added a monthly meeting with Richmond just for the Divine Nine, in addition to a “Black stakeholders” call that already takes place every Friday at noon with the White House Office of Public Engagement. The stepped-up outreach comes amid a surge in frustration among Black activists over Biden’s tenure. They have lost patience with the administration’s strategy of executive orders and speech-making and are demanding a more forceful response to Republicans’ blockade on policing, voting rights and other priority legislation, including pushing for a filibuster carveout. It’s a frustration that some members of the Divine Nine have been hearing and also share. “I think the visibility of the effort and the push is most important. People will get frustrated and give up hope if they don't see/hear what's happening in the push significantly moving forward,” Smith said. Smith hopes the increased contact with the administration will give the Divine Nine a way to tamp down some of that frustration with progress reports on issues like voting rights. . . . read the full article here.