Delta Sigma Theta
is a non-profit Greek-lettered sorority of college-educated women who perform public service and place emphasis on the African American community. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority was founded on January 13, 1913 by twenty-two collegiate women at Howard University. These students wanted to use their collective strength to promote academic excellence and to provide assistance to persons in need. The first public act performed by the Delta Founders involved their participation in the Women's Suffrage March in Washington D.C., March 1913. Delta Sigma Theta was incorporated in 1930. Today, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority is the largest African-American Greek-lettered sorority in the world. Membership in Delta Sigma Theta is open to any woman who meets the membership requirements, regardless of race, nationality, or religion. Women may join through undergraduate chapters at a college or university, or after acquiring a college degree through an alumnae chapter.
The Grand Chapter has a membership of more than 300,000 predominantly African-American, college-educated women, and educated Caucasian
White people is a term which usually refers to human beings characterized, at least in part, by the light pigmentation of their skin...
Asian people or Asiatic people is a term with multiple meanings that refers to people who descend from a portion of Asia's population.- Central Asia :...
, Native American, Hispanic
Hispanic is a term that originally denoted a relationship to Hispania, which is to say the Iberian Peninsula: Andorra, Gibraltar, Portugal and Spain. During the Modern Era, Hispanic sometimes takes on a more limited meaning, particularly in the United States, where the term means a person of ...
, and African women. The sorority
Fraternities and sororities are fraternal social organizations for undergraduate students. In Latin, the term refers mainly to such organizations at colleges and universities in the United States, although it is also applied to analogous European groups also known as corporations...
currently has 950-plus alumnae
An alumnus , according to the American Heritage Dictionary, is "a graduate of a school, college, or university." An alumnus can also be a former member, employee, contributor or inmate as well as a former student. In addition, an alumna is "a female graduate or former student of a school, college,...
and collegiate chapters located in the United States, England, Japan, Germany, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Korea, US Virgin Islands; Haiti and Jamaica.
Delta Sigma Theta is a member of multiple organizations, including the National Pan-Hellenic Council
The National Pan-Hellenic Council is a collaborative organization of nine historically African American, international Greek lettered fraternities and sororities. The nine NPHC organizations are sometimes collectively referred to as the "Divine Nine"...
(NPHC) – an organization of nine international Greek-letter sororities and fraternities - as well as the NAACP, and the National Council of Negro Women
The National Council of Negro Women is a non-profit organization with the mission to advance the opportunities and the quality of life for African American women, their families and communities. NCNW fulfills this mission through research, advocacy, national and community based services and...
(NCNW). The current 24th national president is Cynthia M. A. Butler-McIntyre.
Creation of Delta Sigma Theta
Delta Sigma Theta was founded by twenty-two students who had earlier been initiated into Alpha Kappa Alpha
Alpha Kappa Alpha is the first Greek-lettered sorority established and incorporated by African American college women. The sorority was founded on January 15, 1908, at Howard University in Washington, D.C., by a group of nine students, led by Ethel Hedgeman Lyle...
. Seven of them were the elected officers of the chapter: Myra Davis Hemmings, president; Ethel Cuff Black, vice-president, Edith Motte Young, secretary; Jessie McGuire Dent, corresponding secretary, Winona Cargile Alexander, custodian; Frederica Chase Dodd, sergeant-at-arms, and Pauline Oberdorfer Minor, treasurer. The twenty-two were dismayed at progress and wanted to reorganize the sorority. The new initiates wanted to establish a national organization, enlarge the scope of the sorority's activities, change its name to reflect a true purpose, as they felt Alpha Kappa Alpha was solely a female derivative of Alpha Phi Alpha with no individual meaning. They also wanted to change the symbols, change the sorority colors and be more politically oriented. In 1912 at Howard University
Howard University is a federally chartered, non-profit, private, coeducational, nonsectarian, historically black university located in Washington, D.C., United States...
, these twenty-two undergraduates voted to change the organization's name to Delta Sigma Theta. This new name was to reflect the group's desire to change the direction of the group and change in the philosophical underpinnings. The collegiate students sought to move towards social activism and greater public service, rather than social activities. According to Delta Sigma Theta's historian Paula Giddings
Paula Giddings is a writer and an African-American historian. She is the author of When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America and In Search of Sisterhood...
, the twenty-two young women were concerned that since Alpha Kappa Alpha was not incorporated, there was no "legal entity." Since there was no charter, there was no authority to form other chapters."
The undergraduate members wanted to establish a national organization, enlarge the scope of activities of the sorority, change the sorority's name and symbols, and be more politically oriented. However, conflict arose between one alumnae member who wished to keep the previous name and the remaining collegiate members who voted to change the name to Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. When the graduate member Nellie Quander
Nellie Mae Quander was an incorporator and the first international president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. As president for several years, she helped expand the sorority and further its support of African American women at colleges and in communities. The sorority established a...
heard about their desire to change the sorority's name, she disagreed and gave the students a deadline to stop the efforts to reorganize the sorority. The twenty-two declined and unanimously voted to reorganize. Thus Delta Sigma Theta was founded on January 13, 1913, by the twenty-two students. The new sorority was officially incorporated on February 18, 1913. January 20, 1930 the organization's Grand Chapter was nationally incorporated.
Participation in the 1913 Women Suffrage March
Less than two months after the sorority's founding, Delta Sigma Theta women began their political activism by participating in the historic 1913 Women's Suffrage March
Women's suffrage or woman suffrage is the right of women to vote and to run for office. The expression is also used for the economic and political reform movement aimed at extending these rights to women and without any restrictions or qualifications such as property ownership, payment of tax, or...
on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. Delta Sigma Theta's twenty-two founders marched with honorary member Mary Church Terrell
Mary Church Terrell , daughter of former slaves, was one of the first African-American women to earn a college degree. She became an activist who led several important associations and worked for civil rights and suffrage....
under the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority banner on the day prior to Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...
's inauguration. They believed that black women needed the right to vote to protect against sexual exploitation, promote quality education, assist in the work force, and empower their race.
Black female marchers were subjected to racism, not only by people who were opposed to the enfranchisement of women, but by march organizers reluctant to advocate suffrage for Blacks. Since 1890, white Democrats
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...
of the southern states of the former Confederacy
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...
had passed new constitutions and legislation that effectively disfranchised most blacks and many poor whites. Black women's marching for the right to vote reminded many that black men had been disfranchised. Also, in those years, Washington, DC was effectively a segregated city in public areas. Mary Church Terrell recounted that she and Delta Sigma Theta's founders had to assemble in an area specifically allocated for Black women. Several years later, Terrell confided her feelings about the National American Woman Suffrage Association
The National American Woman Suffrage Association was an American women's rights organization formed in May 1890 as a unification of the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association...
and suffragist leader Alice Paul
Alice Stokes Paul was an American suffragist and activist. Along with Lucy Burns and others, she led a successful campaign for women's suffrage that resulted in the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920.-Activism: Alice Paul received her undergraduate education from...
to NAACP representative Walter White
Walter Francis White was a civil rights activist who led the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for almost a quarter of a century and directed a broad program of legal challenges to segregation and disfranchisement. He was also a journalist, novelist, and essayist...
. Terrell questioned Paul’s loyalty to Black women's rights, saying, "If [Paul] and other white suffragist leaders could get the Anthony Amendment through without enfranchising African American women, they would do so.”
Although the young founders were criticized, none regretted her participation in the march. Florence Toms commented, "We marched that day in order that women might come into their own, because we believed that women not only needed an education, but they needed a broader horizon in which they may use that education. And the right to vote would give them that privilege."
The sorority expanded with a second chapter, Beta Chapter, established at Wilberforce University
Wilberforce University is a private, coed, liberal arts historically black university located in Wilberforce, Ohio. Affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, it was the first college to be owned and operated by African Americans...
, February 5, 1914. The third chapter, Gamma Chapter, was established in 1918 at the University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States,Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution...
. Soon after, Delta Chapter was established (April 4, 1919) at the University of Iowa
The University of Iowa is a public state-supported research university located in Iowa City, Iowa, United States. It is the oldest public university in the state. The university is organized into eleven colleges granting undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees...
and Epsilon Chapter at Ohio State University
The Ohio State University, commonly referred to as Ohio State, is a public research university located in Columbus, Ohio. It was originally founded in 1870 as a land-grant university and is currently the third largest university campus in the United States...
(November 19, 1919).
The first graduate chapters were authorized in 1920 at the Second National Convention for graduate members in New York City and Washington, D.C. With the founding of the Kappa Chapter at the University of California
The University of California is a public university system in the U.S. state of California. Under the California Master Plan for Higher Education, the University of California is a part of the state's three-tier public higher education system, which also includes the California State University...
in February 1921, Delta Sigma Theta became the first Black Greek-letter organization established on the Pacific Coast. In 1930, the Grand Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority was incorporated.
, an annual variety show consisting of cultural expression and talent - such as music, skits, and dance - was initiated by Marion Conover-Hope in 1925 in Boston, Massachusetts. Locally produced Jabberwock shows served as fundraisers for many chapters of the sorority. Funds from the programs support scholarships for youths and other public service projects. The program encourages and assists in the development of young individual talents. On December 28, 1947, the Delta Jabberwock was formally adopted and copyrighted by Delta Sigma Theta.
May Week was created at the second national convention in 1920 at Wilberforce University. Local chapters began to observe it beginning in 1921. The purpose of May Week is to emphasize the importance of higher education in the community, especially for Black women. The slogan "Invest in Education" was adopted. A week in May is set aside for programs highlighting academic and professional achievement.
The National Library Project
The sorority's first nationwide effort to provide library services in the rural South was the National Library Project, which it authorized in 1937. The program was implemented in 1945, with the goal to establish a traveling library in the South
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...
, where library services were not generally available for Blacks, both because of segregation
Racial segregation is the separation of humans into racial groups in daily life. It may apply to activities such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a public toilet, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home...
and because so many blacks lived in rural areas, which had fewer services. The project arose from concerns that few adequate resources were available, outside of those provided by segregated school systems. In 1939, only 94 out of 774 public libraries in the South served Blacks. Additionally, only 5% of rural Blacks had access to any public institution at all. The first traveling library was based in Franklin County, North Carolina
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 47,260 people, 17,843 households, and 12,882 families residing in the county. The population density was 96 people per square mile . There were 20,364 housing units at an average density of 41 per square mile...
, where 25 book baskets, with 35 books, were circulated.
Job Analysis and Opportunity Project
The Job Analysis and Opportunity Project began in 1941. It was to provide career, employment counseling, and job exposure for black women. The sorority created the program to address concerns that Black women were limited in their choices of occupations, and that they lacked training because of the economy and World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...
. Some of the project's goals were to improve working conditions and to improve Black women's opportunities to acquire a job.
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority began a four-point approach to address these concerns:
- counseling workers on problem solving;
- providing guidance and encouragement; and
- assisting in changing public perception on working African-American women.
The twenty-two founders of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority were:
|Osceola Macarthy Adams
Osceola Macarthy Adams was an American actress, drama teacher, director, and clothing designer. She was one of the 22 founders of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.-Early life:...
|Edna Brown Coleman
||Pauline Oberdorfer Minor
Pauline Oberdorfer Minor was one of the founders of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.-Biography:Pauline Oberdorfer was born around 1889 in Charlottesville, Virginia. Raised by an aunt and uncle in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she did not know her parents nor her exact date of birth. In...
|Ethel Carr Watson
|Marguerite Young Alexander
Marguerite Young Alexander was one of the founders of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.-Biography:Marguerite Young was born in March 1889 in Springfield, Illinois, the fourth child and only daughter of James William Young, a hotel waiter, by his wife, Minnie.Young was a student of romance...
|Jessie McGuire Dent
||Vashti Turley Murphy
||Wertie Blackwell Weaver
|Winona Cargile Alexander
Winona Cargile Alexander was a founder of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated at Howard University on January 13, 1913. It was the second sorority founded for and by African-American women and was influential in women's building civic institutions and charities...
|Frederica Chase Dodd
||Naomi Sewell Richardson
||Madree Penn White
|Ethel Cuff Black
Ethel Cuff Black, one of the founders of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, was born in Wilmington, Delaware. Her father was a banker in an African-American owned business. Her maternal grandfather was a Civil War veteran...
|Myra Davis Hemmings
||Mamie Reddy Rose
||Edith Motte Young
|Bertha Pitts Campbell
||Olive C Jones
||Eliza Pearl Shippen
|Zephyr Chisom Carter
||Jimmie Bugg Middleton
||Florence Letcher Toms
Many Delta women have been recognized as leaders in community activism, athletics, business, education and scholarship, entertainment, media and literature, as well as in government. Members excel in these roles at the local, national and international level.
Many Delta members continue to be active in alumnae chapters after graduating from college. Often alumnae and undergraduate chapters will collaborate on large projects to benefit their community.
In 1954, Delta Sigma Theta was the first African-American organization to purchase a national headquarters site. Their headquarters is in Washington, D.C. The sorority owns property located at 1703, 1705, 1707, and 1709 New Hampshire Avenue, N.W. in the historic Dupont Circle
Dupont Circle is a traffic circle, park, neighborhood, and historic district in Northwest Washington, D.C. The traffic circle is located at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue NW, Connecticut Avenue NW, New Hampshire Avenue NW, P Street NW, and 19th Street NW...
neighborhood. In addition to serving as the national headquarters, the buildings house the Delta Research and Education Foundation (DREF), national staff and records, and equipment systems necessary to conduct Delta Sigma Theta's business.
In 1925, the sorority began to organize its chapters into geographical regions. Initially, it created four regions: Eastern, Midwest, Far West, and Southern. Seven years later, the Central Region was established. In 1960, the Mid-Atlantic region was created. North and South Carolina left the Southern Region to become part of the new South Atlantic Region.
Each of the seven regions is led by a regional director and a collegiate regional representative, who provides a voice for the sorority's college-based members.
'Correction: The State of Tennessee is part of the Southern Region, not the Midwestern Region.
Delta Sigma Theta has provided assistance to address the challenges faced by people in the United States and internationally as well. Over the years, the sorority has established programs to provide and improve education, health care, and international development, and strengthen the African-American family. Delta Sigma Theta provides public service initiatives through the Five-Point Program Thrust.
Delta Sigma Theta uses the Five-Point Thrust as an organizing structure as it creates programs to benefit the African-American community. The Five-Point Programmatic Thrust, which was established in 1955, includes:.:
- Economic Development;
- Educational Development;
- International Awareness and Involvement;
- Physical and Mental Health; and
- Political Awareness and Involvement.
Each program's development and implementation operates cooperatively, coordinated by committees, the national executive board, and national headquarters staff. Leaders belonging to the Program Planning and Development Committee, Social Action Commission, Commission on Arts and Letters, Information and Communications Committee, Membership Services Committee and Regional Officers also participate in developing programming to meet the Five-Point Thrust.
The Delta Challenge: Delta Homeownership Initiative
In 2003, the "Delta Challenge: DST Homeownership Initiative" was created to assist sorority members, family, friends, and the general public with owning their homes and investing in homeownership. The program is a resource for individuals seeking information about homeownership; wishing to locate a loan representatives who partners with the Delta Challenge; information about mortgage insurance or other benefits; or who has questions regarding real estate or related financial topics. In three years, the program has helped more than 400 families purchase homes. The DST Homeownership Initiative is a partnership between Delta Sigma Theta's 950 chapters, Chase Bank, and Genworth Financial
Genworth Financial is a Fortune 500 global financial security company that specializes in life and long term care insurance, wealth management, mortgage insurance, lifestyle protection insurance and annuities...
The national directors of the DST Homeownership Initiative are Lori Jones Gibson and Lynn Richardson. Gibson is the Genworth Financial's Vice-President of Affordable Housing and Industry Affairs, and Richardson is Chase Bank's Vice President of National Strategic Partnerships.
The Delta Challenge offers mortgage loans, insurance, and other home buyers' discounts through The Delta Chase Initiative. The Delta Chase Initiative resulted in more than 100,000 consumer touch points worldwide and $35 million in closings for Chase, a staggering 389% increase over those closed over the previous three years.
Delta Sigma Theta & Habitat for Humanity
Delta Sigma Theta was the first national African-American organization to collaborate with Habitat for Humanity International in 1992, during Delta President Bertha Roddey's administration. Habitat for Humanity builds and rehabilitates homes with the help of selected homeowners, volunteer labor, management expertise, and tax-deductible donations of money and materials. Houses are sold to families without profit, and no-interest mortgages are issued over a fixed period. Between 1992-1994, Delta Sigma Theta and Habitat for Humanity built twenty-two homes throughout the United States. In 1996, sorority members and supporters traveled to Ghana, where they built forty Delta Habitat for Humanity homes.
Financial Fortitude: Smart Women Finish Rich
Financial Fortitude was designed to help sorority members and local communities to attain personal wealth and financial security. Financial Fortitude was established as a result of increasing unemployment, Social Security debts, and the widening gap between wealth and poverty. Financial Fortitude helps participants to set and define goals, to develop a financial plan to achieve goals, and to put their plan into action. Workshops are focused on topics such as debt management and reduction, retirement, financing for college, investing, insurance, estate and home ownership, savings, and entrepreneurship.
Delta Towers I
In 1979, Delta Sigma Theta's Washington D.C. Alumnae Chapter and Delta's Housing Corporation planned and constructed Delta Towers as a multi-million dollar, ten-story building. Delta Towers opened for occupancy in 1980. Delta Sigma Theta established Delta Towers in the northeast area of Washington, D.C. Delta Towers is an apartment building for elderly and disabled individuals. Delta Towers was the first retirement center founded by any of the African-American sororities or fraternities in the United States. However, many of the African-American sororities and fraternities are planning to or have established retirement centers. Delta Towers currently has 150 independent-living residential apartments. Because of the success of Delta Towers, the chapter and housing corporation are constructing a second apartment building, Delta Towers II, near the first.
Delta Towers II
The Washington D.C. Alumnae Chapter's Delta Housing Corporation is planning to construct Delta Towers II. Delta Towers II will provide 150 additional safe and affordable apartments for low to moderate income senior citizens. Delta Towers II will be designed to provide a senior citizen wellness center, ground level commercial office and retail services, and a community room. Together, Delta Towers I and Delta Towers II will offer 300 affordable apartments for senior housing (affordable to households earning 60% or less of the area's median income). Construction on Delta Towers II is scheduled to begin in March 2009.
Dr. Betty Shabazz Delta Academy
Dr. Betty Shabazz's Delta Academy ("Catching the Dreams of Tomorrow, Preparing Young Women For the 21st Century") is designed for girls ages 11 to 14, who have an interest in developing leadership skills. The program is named in honor of sorority member, the late Dr. Betty Shabazz
Betty Shabazz , born Betty Dean Sanders and also known as Betty X, was an American educator and civil rights advocate. She was the wife of Malcolm X....
, wife of Malcolm X
Malcolm X , born Malcolm Little and also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz , was an African American Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of African Americans, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its...
It is for girls who demonstrate the potential for success, but may not have support systems or access to financial resources. Participants are exposed to math, science, technology, and non-traditional careers. The Delta Academy sessions may also include service learning activities, field trips and book clubs.
Delta Academy's symbol is the dream catcher. In Native American culture, the dream catcher possesses power to capture bad dreams and entangle them into a web. The good dreams pass through the dream hoop's open center into the person.
Delta GEMS: Growing and Empowering Myself Successfully
Delta GEMS is an outgrowth and continuation of the Dr. Betty Shabazz Delta Academy Program. Delta GEMS was created to assist in facilitating the dreams and goals of at-risk, adolescent African-American girls, aged 14–18. Goals for Delta GEMS are:
- To instill academic excellence
- To provide tools permitting the girls to sharpen and enhance their skills to achieve academic success
- To assist girls in setting and planning proper goal for their futures in high school and beyond
- To create compassionate, caring, and community minded young women by active involvement in community service opportunities.
The Delta GEMS framework has five major components (Scholarship, Sisterhood, "Show Me the Money", Service, and Infinitely Complete), which forms a road map for college and career planning. Topics within the five major components provide interactive lessons and activities which allow opportunities for individual growth. Delta GEMS, like Delta Academy, is implemented by Delta Sigma Theta's chapters.
Lawry's Delta GEMS Collegiate Challenge
Lawry's Foods partnered with Delta Sigma Theta to create the National Collegiate Public Service Caddy and Grant Recognition Program. The Collegiate Challenge recognizes and rewards a Delta collegiate chapter in each of Delta's regions for the Delta GEMS program's outstanding implementation. Regional winners receive $1,000, and the grand prize winner receives $5,000. In 2006, collegiate chapters were asked to partner with other collegiate chapters, alumnae chapters or community organizations in their municipality.
Maryland Educational Opportunity Center (MEOC)
The Maryland Educational Opportunity Center was established in 1979 and created with a special service grant of $450,000 – the largest grant awarded by the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. MEOC is a free program in Baltimore, MD, which provides information and counseling services to adults and youths interested attending college or vocational/technical school. Having seven outreach centers, the program is sponsored by Delta Sigma Theta and funded by the federal government. The MEOC is a federal TRIO program and one of 130 Educational Opportunity Centers (EOC) in the country. From 1979 to 2006, MEOC has served more than 78,000 individuals. Nearly 20,000 participants were enrolled in postsecondary institutions.
The Total Woman: Mind, Body, and Spirit Lifestyle Change Initiative
The Total Woman: Mind, Body, and Spirit Lifestyle Change Initiative impacts the well-being of sorority members and members' families and communities at-large. The Lifestyle Change initiative was started in 2004 by the Health Taskforce, providing physical and mental health expertise. Some of the program's goals are to educate on the importance and benefits of lifestyle changes affecting longevity, morbidity, and mortality; to identify organizational alliances that work towards address pertinent health issues; and to develop and implement health-focused programs.
Through the Initiative, the sorority is working to combat the high incidence of women's obesity
Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems...
. The program's first component is a challenge to chapter members to achieve and maintain healthier weights.
50 Million Pound Challenge Partnership
In 2006, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, in collaboration with Dr. Ian K. Smith and State Farm Insurance
State Farm Insurance is a group of insurance and financial services companies in the United States. The company also has operations in Canada....
, began a partnership, encouraging members to become healthier by exercising and eating properly. Members joined with others in the African-American community to reverse the deadly effects of obesity. At the 2008 National Convention in Orlando, Florida
Orlando is a city in the central region of the U.S. state of Florida. It is the county seat of Orange County, and the center of the Greater Orlando metropolitan area. According to the 2010 US Census, the city had a population of 238,300, making Orlando the 79th largest city in the United States...
, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority was presented with an award for the most weight lost by any sorority or fraternity.
American Heart Association Partnership “Go Red for Women” Campaign
Heart disease, cardiac disease or cardiopathy is an umbrella term for a variety of diseases affecting the heart. , it is the leading cause of death in the United States, England, Canada and Wales, accounting for 25.4% of the total deaths in the United States.-Types:-Coronary heart disease:Coronary...
is the leading killer of women and of women of color in the United States. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority was the first sorority to join the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a non-profit organization in the United States that fosters appropriate cardiac care in an effort to reduce disability and deaths caused by cardiovascular disease and stroke. It is headquartered in Dallas, Texas...
's "Go Red for Women" campaign as an organizational alliance working to educate women on heart disease.
Delta Days in the Nation's Capital
In 1989, the National Social Action Commission instituted Delta Days in the Nation's Capitol. Delta Days is an annual legislative conference to increase sorority members' involvement in the national public policy-making process. The annual conference includes legislative briefings, issue forums, and developing advocacy skills. Featured speakers include key policy makers, members of the United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....
, staff members, and national policy experts.
In 2009, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority celebrated the twentieth anniversary of Delta Days in the Nation's Capital. The theme was "Advocacy in Action: Strengthening Our Legacy". Topics included empowering membership to be effective social action advocates in the areas of quality education, affordable health care, Census 2010
The United States Census is a decennial census mandated by the United States Constitution. The population is enumerated every 10 years and the results are used to allocate Congressional seats , electoral votes, and government program funding. The United States Census Bureau The United States Census...
, and economic viability. An orientation for first-time attendees providing "how to's" on navigating the legislative process, legislative letter writing, congressional testimony, resolution writing, and coalition building was provided.
Delta Days at the United Nations
On March 27, 2003, Delta Sigma Theta became a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with special consultative status at the United Nations. National President Gwendolyn Boyd accepted the credentials on behalf of the sorority, before 150 UN members from across the world, in a presentation by Hanifa Mezoui, Chief NGO Secretary in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the UN (ECOSOC). Delta Sigma Theta was welcomed to the United Nations by Assistant Secretary General for External Affairs, Gillian Sorensen
Gillian Martin Sorensen is a Senior Advisor at the United Nations Foundation, and is a national advocate on matters related to the United Nations and the United States-United Nations relationship, addressing audiences as diverse as Rotary International and the United States Air Force Academy;...
, who advised the sorority, "[to] use your NGO status to monitor the status of women and children in the world and bind together with other NGOs to insure that the UN honors its commitments." Delta Sigma Theta was granted Special Consultative Status as an NGO to the Economic and Social Council of the UN as a result of volunteer services and humanitarian efforts around the world. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is the first and one of only three African-American organizations with the NGO special consultative status with the United Nations, the other two are the National Council of Negro Women, Inc. and The Links, Inc.
The sorority made a commitment to creating programs advocating:
- Reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act.
- Repeal of Voter Disenfranchisement laws.
- Full restoration of Voting Rights for former Felons.
- Full implementation of the Help America Vote Act.
International Awareness and Involvement
World AIDS Day
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority supported the World AIDS campaign in observance of World AIDS Day
World AIDS Day, observed December 1 every year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. Government and health officials observe the day, often with speeches or forums on the AIDS topics. Since 1995, the President of the United States has made an...
, on December 1, 2008. With the slogan "Stop AIDS! Keep the Promise," Delta Sigma Theta promotes workshops, programs, and information dissemination. Individual chapters and members continue increasing awareness of HIV/AIDS in the community
Mary Help of the Sick Mission Hospital (formerly Thika Memorial Hospital)
Concerns about inadequate prenatal and maternity care for women in Africa prompted Delta Sigma Theta to invest in health care for women in Kenya. In 1955, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority established a maternity wing and health services in Thika Town. The sorority began planning for a larger facility in the early 1960s, and financed construction of Thika Maternity Hospital. The first hospital to open after Kenya gained independence
Independence is a condition of a nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory....
in 1963, it is now known as Mary Help of the Sick Mission Hospital. Missionary
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...
Sisters of the Holy Rosary operate the facility.
In 1985, Delta Sigma Theta members visited the hospital. They were able to see the positive results of an increased population and improved infant mortality rate in and around Thika. In response, the sorority donated another $20,000, to establish two additional maternity wards and an administrative office.
Mary Help of the Sick Mission Hospital now has 121 beds, and provides affordable prenatal and postnatal care, nutritional education, child immunization, and family planning. The hospital gives prenatal care, including lab work, blood tests, and examinations for 200 women each day. The facility also has a special-care nursery for newborn babies. The hospital serves to educate nurses and midwives. Over 66 students are trained each year.
Summit VI: Health Issues Impacting Women of African Descent
In April 2006, Delta Sigma Theta commemorated twenty-five years of providing summit programs with an International Awareness Program: "Summit VI: Health Issues Impacting Women of African Descent". Held in Jamaica, the health issues summit heightened awareness of increases in diabetes, heart disease and obesity among African-American women. The conference included various formats for a variety of health care experts to disseminate information, such as workshops, panels, and town hall formats.
Notable Political Deltas
Sadie T. M. Alexander
, Ph.D-she was appointed to President Truman's Commission on Civil Rights (1945).
Brigadier General Hazel Johnson Brown
, Ph.D., was the first African American woman general in the United States Army.
, the first Black woman member of the U.S. Congress, was the first African American and first woman to run as a major party candidate for the presidency of the United States.
Frankie M. Freeman
, noted attorney and 14th National President (1967-1971), was the first woman appointed to the Civil Rights Commission by President Lyndon B. Johnson and served 16 years.
Patricia Roberts Harris
served as Delta Sigma Theta's first Executive Director. She was also the first Black woman to be appointed ambassador to a European country (Luxembourg) and to be appointed to a presidential cabinet post as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). She was later appointed as Secretary of Health and Human Services. In January 2000, she was honored on the 23rd commemorative stamp in the United States Postal Service's Black Heritage Series. Other Deltas that have been ambassadors are Ann Holloway and Bynthis Perry.
was the Secretary of Labor and a Cabinet Member in the administration of President William Clinton.
Jewel S. Lafontant
was the first American woman to be admitted into the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. She was also the first female Deputy Solicitor General of the U.S. during the Nixon Administration.
Mary Church Terrell
was the first African American chosen to represent the United States Congress of Women and to serve on the board of education of a major city.
was first African American woman to serve as chief of a State Department bureau. She became Administrator of the Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs on July 31, 1968, served until December 31, 1974, and was re-appointed on April 7, 1977. On August 17 of that year, she became Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs.
Source: National Website for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
In October 2011, a serial rapist in the Dallas area was reported to be targeting Delta Sigma Theta alumnae, attacking four alumnae in their mid-50s to mid-60s over an eleven-month period. The sorority issued a release advising its members not to identify their affiliation with the sorority via on their cars, key chains, clothing, or Facebook postings.