Part 1: The Genesis
It began with singing. Brothers would gather in the quad and sing. They eventually
graduated to dancing and from there stepping. You can go to some yards down south and
they call it a "Sing" instead of a "Step-show". The white fraternities started the singing
part, but the black fraternities took it to another level. Much like we did with basketball
and football. I don't think that any one fraternity can lay claim to stepping, more than
likely it evolved. One thing I do know was that the Sigmas and the Omegas were the first to
do it. Sororities didn't start stepping until several years after the fraternities.
SOURCE: Brother Terrence A.B. Lewis "BadStep" Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
Part 2: The Evolution
Stepping began with groups of guys singing acappella, and when groups like the
Temptations and the Four Tops were popular in the 50's and 60's brothers started
mimicking their steps. This was how stepping evolved. This is why it is called "Stepping"
now. Brothers would try to come up with the best steps while they were singing to please
the ladies. If you got the ladies you got more recruits. Much like it is today.
Others say that stepping replaced the doo woop sounds and cardigan sweaters of the 50's.
At around the same time as the "Black Power" Movements and Africa centered
movements of the 60's, stepping started to flourish with the incorporation of some
traditional African ritual dancing and the incorporation of other elements like cheer
leading, tap, gymnastics, etc. Over the years stepping has become very intricate and
demanding incorporating props, high levels of gymnastics and other elements found in
team sports. Please note that some people want to give the credit to the South African Boot
Dance, but it would be unfair to ignore everything that stepping was in the beginning and
it is now. Stepping is an original art form that was influence by many elements from our past.
SOURCE: Various Brothers
Part 3: Sigma Stepping
Phi Beta Sigma stepping evolved even more with the contributions of Bro. Kwame
Nkrumah of Ghana. He introduced certain steps from his traditional African culture which
used dance as a celebration of "coming of age". The coming of age ceremonies, or rites of
passage, are when a young man comes into manhood. This is intimately tied to the pledge
process which is itself is Masonic & Afro-centric in origin and method. The cane was used
by Bro. Nkrumah in his stepping ritual. Stepping is supposed to be done as a celebration of
"crossing", or "going over", or "coming into manhood". From this brothers began to
create and build. Over the years Sigmas have been known for numerous unique and
identifiable steps. These steps are:
"The Sigma "Nut-Cracker"
"The Passage" a.k.a. "The African Step"
"Hands and Feet"
"The Cotton Club"
"Up Jumped the Devil"
"The Blindfold Step" (with or without cane)
The Nut-Cracker being the most common and well known. The original Nut-
Cracker originated in the late 70's. Any Sigma Chapter can lay claim to it in some
form or fashion.
TO THE END THE MEN OF SIGMA REPRESENT GOMAB"