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African American Sororities
Most people want to make their college experience as meaningful and protective as possible so he or she decides to join a sorority. Most people believe that a sorority is a group of girls who get together and stomp in shows, but that’s not the case. A sorority is a social organization of women that have common goals to enhance communities, education for youth, and to give back their willful service. Being apart of a sorority has its benefits such as career networking, charitable opportunities, and leadership training. The reason for the establishment of any sorority is organize a support system that touches the bases of sisterhood. The founders of each sorority had to overcome the stereotypical views of sexism and racism during their college years and beyond. Four major sororities established include “Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (Howard University, 1908), Delta Sigma Theta (Howard University, 1913), Zeta Phi Beta (Howard University, 1920), and Sigma Gamma Rho (Butler University, 1922),” (Johnson). Each member in these sororities makes a lifetime commitment to continue the legacy of building social capital and upholding the strong ideals of education, integrity, public service, and activism. Each of the sororities’ principles includes “Sisterhood, Scholarships, and Service” (Alpha Kappa Alpha) that each member commits to and lives by.
The most initial and most popular sorority instituted is known as Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA). Alpha Kappa Alpha was the first black sorority formed at Howard University by eight intelligent women. Ethel Hedgeman, the mastermind, following “Beulah E., Lillie Burke, Margaret Holmes, Marjurie Hilly, Lucy Slowe, Mark Taylor, Anna Brown, and Lavina Norman,” (Johnson) established Alpha Kappa Alpha in 1908, but the organization was incorporated in 1913. “AKA was the second Greek-letter group established after Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity,” (Johnson). Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority official flower is a pink tea rose, and its symbol is an ivy leaf. AKA’s colors are salmon pink and apple green. Alpha Kappa Alpha motto is “By Culture and By Merit,” (Alpha Kappa Alpha). Stereotypes about Alpha Kappa Alpha are pretty light-skinned girls with long hair, but honestly, AKAs come in all colors, shapes, and size. Alpha Kappa Alpha’s purpose is to strive to affect positive changes within people, especially women and throughout communities. Their themes, which are imitated by the members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, are about the importance of the individual, and the strength of an organization of women of ability and courage.
“Alpha Kappa Alpha is a sisterhood composed of women who have consciously chosen this affiliation in order to improve the socioeconomic conditions in their city, state, nation, and world,” (Sims). There are over 200,000 members in 950 chapters across the country and world. The membership into Alpha Kappa Alpha is invitation only. There are plenty undergraduates and graduates in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Alpha Kappa Alpha organization has a Membership Intake Process, and that process has many requirements in order for a prospective member to enter as a sister. Alpha Kappa Alpha is all about allowing women to have dignity and respect, so the organization has an anti-hazing policy. If any of the members in Alpha Kappa Alpha are caught hazing or being hazed, then she will be punish by having to pay a fine. Alpha Kappa Alpha’s legacy of sisterhood and service is depended on commitment to education and excellence. Women who are AKAs achieve outstanding accomplishments in academia, business, politics, and entertainment. Some of those major AKA accomplishers are Coretta Scott King, Dr. Mae Jemison, Star Jones, and Ella Fitzgerald.
The Greek-letter organization focuses on issues within families, communities, government, and world. A way that Alpha Kappa Alpha displays their services is by creating programs, which are made to benefit African American communities. One of the most productive Alpha Kappa Alpha program is “an Educational Advancement Foundation; it is used to promote life long learning by providing scholarships, fellowships, and mini-grants for high school students and HBCU students,” (Johnson). “Alpha Kappa Alpha encourages high scholastic and ethical standards, promotes unity and friendship between college women, alleviates problems concerning girls and women, maintain a progressive interest in college life, and serve all mankind.”(Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.) Alpha Kappa Alpha devotes their talents of leadership to different awareness such as Global Poverty and Social Justice and Human Rights. AKA motives younger girls to excel academically and mentally. The girly sorority known, as the “pretty girls that wears plenty pearls” is truly hard working women, but looking pretty while working. Alpha Kappa Alpha affiliated with a junior sorority of theirs known as Ivy Pearls. Ivy Pearls is an organization that starts young ladies off into following the footsteps of their leaders, AKAs.
Following the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is another organization known as Delta Sigma Theta. Delta Sigma Theta’s establishment branched from Alpha Kappa Alpha members who wanted different horizons. In 1913 at Howards University, twenty-two college women committed to sisterhood and become advocates in a society that is changing, but the organization became incorporated in 1930. The main founder is Osceola Adams. Delta Sigma Theta lives by a mission of their founders and keeps their visionary of change. Delta Sigma Theta is one of the largest African American women organizations in the world with over 250,000 members. Delta Sigma Theta’s colors are crimson and cream (red and white). Their official flower is an African violet, and their symbols are fortitude and an elephant with its trunk up.
Stereotypes of Deltas are them being strong, well-education black women who are confident about their sisterhood. Delta Sigma Theta’s commitment of public service is the key to their organization’s success. Deltas are strong women who always face issues dealing with society. Deltas first public act was participating in the Woman’s Movement, and they lent a helping hand to the needy by distributing scholarships. Deltas took stand against government for justice, and their actions in the Civil Rights were just the beginning. “Five key areas form the goal structure for Delta Sigma Theta--economic development, educational development, international awareness and involvement, physical and mental health, and political awareness and involvement,”(Mission Statement).
Delta Sigma Theta became a Non-Government Organization in 2003. Some famous members of Delta Sigma Theta are General Hazel Brown, Alexa Canady, MD, Elaine Jones, and Shirley Chisholm. Delta Sigma Theta’s purpose is to strengthen academic excellence and to provide assistance to persons in need. “Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization whose purpose is to provide assistance and support through established programs in local communities throughout the world,”(Mission Statement). Delta is a non-profit organization, and it grants scholarships to students, educates participation in establishing a positive public policy, and provides solutions for issues in their communities. Most Deltas are employed as teachers, school administrators, counselors, professors, and higher education administrators. Meanwhile, Deltas are movers and shakers, and they hold political offices, own businesses, and are influential in a range of fields from medicine to law to education, which means that they are well-educate women.
Delta also has many programs such as the Black Diaspora and a Five-Point Program. Delta Sigma Theta established a non-profit group called the Delta Research and Educational Foundation. “DREF was designed to help strengthen and expand the charitable, educational, scientific programs of Delta Sigma Theta and other organizations with similar community service goals,”(Johnson). Deltas also have a program for younger girls called the Delta Academy. Delta Academy provides adventurous opportunities that help enhance the skills learned in classrooms. Delta Sigma Theta is extremely active on voting registration, public policies, and legislation. Delta Sigma Theta are women who are deeply into the social issues, human rights, and justice, as well as, education. Delta Sigma Theta is all about community support and worldwide change, additionally, the members willingly give back to communities.
Following Delta Sigma Theta organization is an organization called Zeta Phi Beta. Established in 1920 at Howard University by five women, Zeta Phi Beta came about to address societal issues and used tactics to help remedy them. Zeta Phi Beta was the first sorority to establish a chapter in Africa. Zeta Phi Beta is built on the concepts of sisterly love, scholarship, and service. Zeta Phi Beta’s goals are to address health concerns, poverty, prejudices, and social mores. “Viola Tyler said, “there is a Zeta in a girl regardless of race, creed, or color, who has high standards and principles, a good scholarly average and an active interest in all things that she undertakes to accomplish,”(Zeta Phi Beta Sorority). Zeta Phi Beta’s colors are royal blue and white. Its symbol is a white dove, and its flower is a white rose.
Zeta Phi Beta members excel in fields such as entertainment, politics, sports and education. Some members of Zeta Phi Beta include Zora Hurston, Violette Anderson, and Dr. Elizabeth Koontz, and Julia Carson. Zeta Phi Beta was established because founders felt that socializing had overshadowed what should be the basic mission of sororities, which is addressing and resolving issues of the African American society. Zetas did not depend on looks or status to determine their members; instead Zetas believed that zeal interest, high principles, and a good scholarly average were ways to look for a member. Zeta Phi Beta shares a bond with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., making the Blue and White family the only true Greek family. Zeta Phi Beta has their own movement called the Dove to represent their dove.
“Zeta programs include the endowment of its National Educational Foundation, community service, scholarship assistance, and collaboration with other charitable organizations as well as advocating change thru legislation,”(Johnson). Zeta Phi Beta formed auxiliary groups, and its national and local programs, which include National Educational Foundation, community outreach services, and support of multiple affiliate organizations. Zeta Phi Beta established a juvenile delinquent program to prevent and violence and to lend a helping hand to the youth. Zetas volunteer to educate the public, assist youth, provide scholarships, support organized charities, and promote legislation for social and civic change. Stereotypes labeled Zetas as the dark-skinned, short hair, ugly girls, but it’s not bout looks and statuses of a person because anyone could become a Zeta if they are willing to commit to the sisterhood and purpose of Zeta Phi Beta.
Following Zeta Phi Beta is an organization called Sigma Gamma Rho. Seven schoolteachers at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana established Sigma Gamma Rho in 1922. Sigma Gamma Rho’s goal is to establish betterment in communities by developing leaders, educating the youth, and participating in public service. Sigma Gamma Rho objective is to remove barriers and inequalities, so that everyone of America can develop their potential and exercise full citizenship. “Sigma Gamma Rho, Inc. is “committed to improve the quality of life for its members and the society it serves” (Johnson). Sigma Gamma Rho addresses issues that have an impact on society civically, economically, and educationally.
There are over 90,000 members in Sigma Gamma Rho. Sigma Gamma Rho was founded on the belief that the discipline, self-respect, and knowledge gained through education would guide individuals to recognize their duties and responsibilities in society. Sigma Gamma Rho scholarship program is shaped from its members’ commitment to education and the goal encouraging high scholastic achievement. “In Sigma Gamma Rho, personal success is shared success, professional contacts are developed, and lifelong bonds are formed,” (Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority). Some well-known members of Sigma Gamma Rho are Mary Washington, Judge Joyce Williams Warren, and Beatrice Powell. Sigma Gamma Rho award students, male and female, yearly because they chose to pursuit higher education. Like the Zetas, Sigma Gamma Rho a program for the prevention of juvenile delinquents entitled, “Sigma Teen Town,” (Johnson). Sigma Gamma Rho’s colors are royal blue and gold; its official flower is a yellow tea rose.
Each of these sororities are developing a strong leadership among its members by making a commitment to inspire other young women to come share their vision. Even though sororities who are established are known as a support system for African American students, they still reach out into black communities to improve the advantages of all individuals. Community service and resolving social issues are the purpose of there four sororities. The membership of these sororities is private, and each one of them contains a strict non-hazing policy. Meanwhile, there is fun within these organizations such as stepping. These sororities’ stepping and strolling symbolize their unity and represent their expression of their organization’s heritage. All of these sororities have unique perspectives, but at the end of the day, the women of each sorority will unite as one to represent their sisterhood.
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Sims, Charles. “Tribute: A Brief History of Black Collegiate Fraternities.” Morgan State University Spokesman. College Publisher. 10 Feb. 2006. Web. 02 Feb. 2011.
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