Service and Sisterhood: Women Making History Locally and Worldwide
January 13, 1913, was a historical moment, giving birth to Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. Twenty-two African American women Howard University scholars took a stance and decided to create a system advocating for human rights and helping those in need. The founders of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, are Osceola Macarthy Adams, Marguerite Young Alexander, Winona Cargile Alexander, Ethel Cuff Black, Bertha Pitts Campbell, Zephyr Chisom Carter, Edna Brown Coleman, Jessie McGuire Dent, Frederica Chase Dodd, Myra Davis Hemmings, Olive C. Jones, Jimmie Bugg Middleton, Pauline Oberdorfer Minor, Vashti Turley Murphy, Naomi Sewell Richardson, Mamie Reddy Rose, Eliza Pearl Shippen, Florence Letcher Toms, Ethel Carr Watson, Wertie Blackwell Weaver, Madree Penn White, and Edith Motte Young.
During this pivotal time in history, women were also fighting for equal rights, and the founders of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, were instrumental advocates for that cause.
The founders participated in the Women’s Suffrage March of 1913 in Washington, D.C. Today, there are over 200,000 members in the United States, England, Japan (Tokyo & Okinawa), Germany, the Virgin Islands, Bermuda, The Bahamas, Jamaica, and the Republic of Korea. The Sorority’s headquarters are in Washington, D.C.
The organization was incorporated in 1930 with a mission to help local communities, mainly focused on addressing the needs of Black communities, becoming the first Sorority to create systems for counseling, scholarships, and educational services. In 2003, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. became the first Black Greek letter organization to be named a Non-Governmental Organization by the United Nations.
The Sorority has established support programs in various communities.
The Sorority has five major thrust areas. International awareness addresses issues in South Africa, establishing schools, and addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Other focus areas include economic development, educational development, physical and mental health, and social action. In 2013, the Delta Research & Educational Foundation, in collaboration with Water and Education International, opened the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Elementary School, at The Cynthia M.A. Butler-McIntyre Campus in Cherette, Haiti, to address the disparities of education in Haiti.
There are two active chapters in Solano County, Vallejo Alumnae Chapter and the Solano Valley Alumnae Chapter. Both are engaged in all Solano County communities, assisting with projects such as voter registration, annual women’s empowerment conferences, community forums, blood drives, partnering with local school districts, and providing annual scholarships to college-bound girls graduating high school, to name a few.
Some notable members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated include:
Dorothy Height: Civil Rights Leader and regular political advisor to Eleanor Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Lyndon B. Johnson
Cicely Tyson: Multi-Emmy and Tony Award winner and Academy Honorary Award recipient for Sounder and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.
Mary McLeod Bethune: Educator, Established Bethune-Cookman College, founding President of the National Council of Negro Women, and became the highest ranking African American woman in government when President Franklin Roosevelt named her director of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration c. 1936-1943.
Dr. Nikki Giovanni: Scholar, professor, author, poet.
Lena Horne: Actress, singer, civil rights activist
Shirley Chisholm: First African American woman in Congress, the first African American woman to run for President of the United States, and former educator (Chisolm’s slogan: Unbought and Unbossed).
The list of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, members goes on with too many to name.
But know that they are everywhere, uplifting the communities they serve and advocating for human rights. You will find members of this sorority serving various needs in your local communities, from educators to social workers, or serving superior court judges, all establishing partnerships and creating change. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, holds an important place in American history.