By Soror Connie Scott
Special to Frost Illustrated
FORT WAYNE—Delta Sigma Theta Inc. made a momentous milestone this year by celebrating their 100th anniversary. The 51st National Convention drew sorority members from across the world to the birthplace of Washington, D.C.
The Fort Wayne Alumnae Chapter sent delegates to work long days and nights to transact the business of Delta. Members of FWAC, along with more than 40,000 registered members and friends, attended meetings, special programs, as well as public & private events that support awareness, involvement and development for their major Five-Point Programmatic Thrust. Notable and enthusiastic guest speakers included the likes of former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Attorney General Eric Holder and the Rev. Bernice King, daughter of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The sorority was founded on the campus of Howard University on Jan. 13, 1913 by 22 collegiate women. Three months later, the sorority participated in the Women’s Suffrage Movement at the back of the procession. Deltas made history as the only African American organization to take part.
Fast forward to the 21st century and you will find more noteworthy firsts. On New Year’s Day, the Deltas became the first black and Greek organization to sponsor a float in the Tournament of Roses Parade. In February, the founders were honored by the lighting of Niagara Falls in the national colors of crimson and cream. In June, they opened the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Elementary School in Cherétte, Haiti. This project, in collaboration with Water in Education International, was established to provide an adequate school facility to include clean water for school children in Haiti.
What does celebrating a Centennial mean? Here is what the women of the Fort Wayne Alumnae Chapter had to say:
“From our 22 Founders to our current leadership, Deltas have boldly faced and changed the status quo and demanded more for women, for children, and our communities.”—Soror Delores Johnson, 2012-14 Chapter President
“They created a sorority that went against the grain. They took on social causes at a time when women were not expected to voice discontent about social causes. They stood up for all women and all people who were disenfranchised. If they could do this in the early 1900’s, then I as a Delta, can do anything and so much more.”—Soror Ruby Cain, Ed.D.
“To know that 100 years ago women in the United States did not have the right to vote in National elections… a privilege far too many Americans today take for granted. Their legacy lives on in spite of apathy, ignorance and racism. I salute our Founders for their commitment and audacity to a vision for a new day… an audacity that has paved the way for us 100 years later. We have the right to vote. We must protect this right.”—Soror Chloretha Manning Davie, Recording Secretary, FWAC ‘87
“It means that the founding women had an authentic ideal when they decided to de-emphasize the social side of sorority life and focus on service. It means that I am a part of an organization that puts service in the forefront. This is what Gods want us to do. It means that sisterhood is powerful, and that when women work together we are able to accomplish great things. When you look back and see all the accomplishments made over the last 100 years it makes me proud to be a part of Delta sigma Theta Inc.!”—Soror Debbie Powers, Immediate Past President
“When I think about the history of our beloved sisterhood; words like commitment, dedication, humility, perseverance, vision, courage, focus, love and long suffering come to mind. The twenty-two founders possessed all of these qualities as they changed the course of history. The next 100 years will require the same qualities and more to sustain Delta! As I watch our young sorors and their mentors, I am encouraged! We are poised for future greatness! I am blessed to have been a Delta for 54 years. This centennial is special for me… it will be my last!”—Soror Bettye Poignard, Charter Member FWAC
As they begin the next 100 years, The Fort Wayne Alumnae will “Keep It 100!” with expanded and empowering community service programs and projects for 2013-14. The women will continue to address domestic violence, obesity and voting rights for our citizens; continue to support the arts and literature with museum visits, reading uplifting books, stressing and supporting positive African American entertainment all while striving to demonstrate attributes of Christian principles for our community—especially for our youth.
The annual Jazz-In-The-Evening fall fundraiser is here! The Deltas will be Steppin’ Out—”Gatsby Style” like it’s 1920. This is an event not to be missed! There will be live jazz by Chris Worth and Company along with soulful tastings. So ladies and gents, put on your elegant vintage/Roaring Twenties attire to make this night a night to remember. The event is Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 at the elegant Orchard Ridge Country Club, 4531 Lower Huntington Road (just west of Ardmore Road) from 8 p.m. to midnight. Donation is $45. Proceeds support FWAC community programs including their annual scholarship program. Tickets will not be sold at the door, so contact a member of the Fort Wayne Alumnae Chapter or www.fortwaynedeltas.com for additional information.
This article originally appeared in the Oct. 16 print edition.