REAL Sisterhood, REAL Commitment and REAL Service
FROM THE REGIONAL DIRECTOR AND THE REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE Greetings, sorors of the Blazing Southwest Region! With joy in our hearts, we welcome you to the May 2021 issue of The Blaze. We are excited to reflect on and highlight some of the tremendous efforts that chapters and our sorors have made to remain on the forefront of change. We are grateful that our Southwest Regional Journalist, Soror Kennedy Williams, could bring this magazine back, as it is the first one since July 2019! “The Fortitude Issue” will update the region on so many sorors who are letting our Founders’ vision guide their service, as they work on the front lines of COVID-19, tackle health disparities, prioritize social action and seek justice for our communities. We have all faced obstacles during this past year and have learned new ways to persevere and have courage in the face of adversity. As a reminder, that is just what Fortitude is, sorors. We charge you all to continue working and focusing on our Five-Point Programmatic Thrust, as the fight is far from over. Please remember to reach out to your sisters and make sure they are OK, because it is crucial we remain connected. In true Blazing Southwest Region fashion, we have had outstanding turnouts in our virtual endeavors — our service has not stopped just because we cannot be together in person. It is already proven that we have just what it takes to conquer all! In Sisterhood and Service, Michelle R. Brown Southwest Regional Director Lauryn A. Cornish Southwest Regional Representative
Masthead Regional Director Michelle R. Brown Regional Representative Lauren A. Cornish
Regional Journalist Kennedy Williams, North Dallas Suburban Alumnae Chapter
Regional Journalist Team DeMonica L. Junious, Ph.D, RN, CNE, North Harris County Alumnae Chapter Arkansas State Journalist Linda Harlston, Texarkana Alumnae Chapter Louisiana State Journalist Tisha McKinney, Baton Rouge Delta Alumnae Chapter North Texas State Journalist Stephanie Maxwell, North Dallas Suburban Alumnae Chapter South Texas State Journalists Tracee Fletcher, MBA, Houston Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter Deshuandra Walker, MBA, Houston Alumnae Chapter Video and Graphic Design Coordinators Erica Burton, Killeen Alumnae Chapter Zelma Dixon-Johnson, Member-At-Large
Contributors Kimberley Baker Tanisa Jeffers Bernard Monica Clay Tanya Cook Natalia Cox Carolyn Hardesty Terilyn Harrison Jennice Haynes Linda Howard-Curtis Yvonda Jones Keiara Mapps Carolyn Matthews Vera Moore Tonya Muraguri Annetra Piper Gisele Proby-Bryant Kellee Randle Jewel Daniels Radford Brenda J. Steele Lisa Theilengerdes Kennedy Thompson Erica L. Williams
Operation Mask-Up South Texas
Texarkana Sorors Actively Engage in National Priorities
33 Southeast Arkansas Alumnae’s Annual Gala Celebrates Unsung Heroes
43 The Mighty Lambda Chi Chapter
In This Issue
Storytime With The Deltas
Red Elephant Storytime
A Virtual Founders Day Celebration
Redistricting — It Matters
Albuquerque Alumnae Celebrates New Elected Officials
Bexar Area Alumnae Chapter Participates in MLK Day Celebration
FEATURE STORY: Giving Black Women Their Flowers
Project 108: A Valentine's Day Service Project
44 45 Northwest Arkansas Area Alumnae Chapter Promotes Financial Freedom
BAHA Spills the Tea with Cherished DEARS
Sorors on the Front Lines
Human Trafficking: Turning Compassion into Action
Exploring the World of Creativity Through a Power in Poetry Youth Workshop
In Loving Memory
47 The Jamaica Alumnae Chapter Proclaims “Soror Adah E. Pierce Day” 3
OPERATION MASK-UP SOUTH TEXAS (MUST) When the worldwide pandemic caused significant shortages with personal protective equipment, specifically that of protective face coverings, members of The Blazing Southwest Region stepped forward and took action. From drive-bys to drop-offs and contactless initiatives, sorors throughout South Texas masked-up and worked to distribute the additional masks needed for multiple underserved communities. Featured in this article are stories shared by the Houston Alumnae and Austin Alumnae chapters.
Austin Alumnae Chapter By Soror Tanisa Jeffers Bernard The Austin Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was proud to support The Blazing Southwest Region by participating in Operation MUST. In support of the Sorority’s mission, members of Austin Alumnae served the community by delivering 200 masks to various local businesses and community agencies. The Round Rock, Pflugerville, Manor and Hutto post offices were some of the agencies that benefitted from this project. The postal service employees were very thankful to receive the mask donations and, as a chapter, Austin Alumnae was successful in aiding community residents in staying healthy and safe during an unprecedented time in our nation’s history.
Sorors from the Austin Alumnae Chapter deliver masks to King-Tears mortuary.
Staff at Foster Elementary School in Houston with the masks delivered to them from Houston Alumnae Chapter.
Houston Alumnae Chapter By Soror Annetra Piper The Houston Alumnae Chapter seized the opportunity to work through threats created by COVID-19 in their communities by participating in the Operation Mask-Up South Texas (MUST) Project. Thanks to the partnership between the Sorority and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Chapter distributed over 200 masks to Houston-area communities. HAC’s International Awareness and Involvement Committee embarked on a project to help schools protect students, teachers and staff in slowing the spread of COVID-19. As such, the committee partnered with Foster Elementary School to host a contactless mask drive. Two hundred protective masks were received then delivered to the doorsteps of Foster Elementary on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. Donning their masks and poised with excitement, Foster Elementary staff spared no creativity in the shared pictures. The Houston Alumnae Chapter has been supporting community organizations and schools throughout the Houston area during this sorority year. To date, the Chapter has donated a total of 700 masks to two local schools and one area organization. This is one small way the Chapter has supported African American communities in its service area that have been deemed the most susceptible and vulnerable during these difficult times
STORYTIME WITH THE DELTAS La Marque Alumnae Chapter By Soror Monica Clay
In this image, Soror Monica Clay delivers books, masks and treats to an early learning center.
The La Marque Alumnae Chapter has a vibrant and lengthy history of supporting and providing cultural and educational programs to the youth in our service area. The ongoing pandemic crisis created a huge obstacle in the continuation of these efforts, but the chapter’s Arts and Letters Committee was committed to continuing these programs to enrich and encourage the youth
to embrace literature and multicultural art. The committee partnered with three early learning centers to host four storytime readings via Zoom. During each session, they read and discussed a book by an African American author. Through this project, the Chapter reached approximately 70 youth and 18 adults. They have created a bond with the children during these readings. The Chapter will also donate a book to each child to take home in May to build their at-home libraries. Prior to each session, a copy of the book was donated to the center along with a special treat for the children. In addition, masks were also donated to each center through Operation MUST.
RED ELEPHANT STORYTIME North Dallas Suburban Alumnae Chapter By Soror Carolyn Matthews
The North Dallas Suburban Alumnae Chapter’s Arts and Letters Committee has been sharing the Red Elephant Storytime on social media. The Red Elephant Storytime is a homegrown committee program that features short stories, book reviews and book trailers targeted toward the youth ranging from ages four to 16. The Chapter's goal is to provide families with an opportunity to slow down from the day and spend a few moments learning about a new book, to provide a fun family activity and to encourage youth to build a lifetime love of reading and books. Each month, members of the committee volunteer
to record themselves reading a short story, giving a book review or providing a book trailer. Sorors follow the same opening and closing script, but may read or review the book of their choice using the formatting of their choice. Publications are made every first and third Friday of the month at 8:30 p.m. Some months feature a special treat— a published story every Friday of that month. The committee plans to read books related to National Children’s Book Day, National Poetry Month, Dr. Seuss’ birthday, Mother’s Day and much more. NDSA has currently posted five videos with over 1,400 views.
SORORS ON THE FRONT LINES By Sorors Kimberley Baker, Bay Area Houston Alumnae Chapter; Kellee Randle, Metropolitan Dallas Alumnae Chapter; and Carolyn Hardesty, New Orleans Alumnae Chapter
Since the COVID-19 virus struck the U.S. in early 2020, sorors of the Southwest Region have been on the front lines, serving as doctors, nurses, caregivers and workers in longterm care facilities. Sorors have suited up in protective gear to treat patients and comfort families, all while caring for themselves, their families and their communities. Here, we celebrate sorors from the New Orleans Alumnae, Bay Area Houston Alumnae and Metropolitan Dallas Alumnae chapters.
Bay Area Houston Alumnae Chapter The worldwide health pandemic has reaffirmed Soror DeShantra Moore’s walk of faith and lifelong goal of launching her very own private practice. Soror Moore is a licensed clinical social worker supervisor that has expertise in individual therapy, crisis intervention, women’s health, domestic violence and HIV/AIDS. Soror Moore reports a tremendous increase in caseload since the advent of this health crisis and the nation’s ongoing racial epidemic. Soror Moore is employed with the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science-Trauma and Resilience Center at UTHealth’s McGovern Medical School. A graduate of both Houston Baptist University and Howard University, Soror Moore’s true calling is to help clients successfully cope with their emotional trauma and pains. Soror Moore believes that African Americans are faced with daily triggers and live in a constant state of trauma. It is her life’s mission and work to help her clients confront those traumatic memories so they can live a healthy life. Soror Moore currently serves as the committee chair for BAHA’s Emergency Response Team.
Soror Brandy Batiste, speech language pathologist and rehabilitation program manager, has a gift for helping people increase their communications and cognitive abilities. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Soror Batiste has worked more than eight hours each weekday in a skilled nursing facility while carrying an additional role as a home health care provider. While this may seem like a lot to most, this is much more than just a job for this St. Martinville, Louisiana native. Soror Batiste is wife to Jimmie Batiste and mother to 7-year-old twins, Noelle and Noah, and 3-year-old Nyla Batiste. Soror Batiste has embraced this work on a daily basis, and believes that it is a divine calling. Soror Batiste was initiated into our illustrious sisterhood in 2006 with the New Iberia Alumnae Chapter in New Iberia, Louisiana. Throughout Soror Batiste’s commitment to serve, the scripture that keeps her grounded is found in Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”
Metropolitan Dallas Alumnae Chapter Soror Kimilique Allen, MD, an internist, manages and aims to control underlying medical conditions and decrease the risk of patient complications that require ER visits and hospitalization. Her goal during COVID-19 has been to educate her patients and families about prevention, vaccination and early detection of COVID-19 in the outpatient setting. She also assigns aggressive outpatient supportive care or monoclonal antibody therapy for those patients who do not require hospitalization. If COVID-19 is detected early, there are more treatment options. Soror Allen maintains close follow up with her patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and is able to alert the ER/ hospital when a patient needs to be admitted for a higher level of care. As an advanced practice nurse practitioner with a focus in geriatric care, Soror Tracee Rainey, APRN, A/GNP-BC, is currently performing house call visits for Medicare members in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. In her current role, she is helping the Medicare population manage their chronic diseases, assisting with access to preventative health programs and educating seniors to live their healthiest lives all in the comfort of their home. Soror Rainey is providing an essential service to our seniors, especially in the time of COVID-19.
As a social work supervisor, Soror LaTrice Polk, LMSW ACMSW, assists the health care team at Baylor, Scott & White Dallas in meeting the psychosocial needs of each patient and their families. Her department enables patients to utilize resources available to them to optimize their health. She also assists with transitional care planning for patients to ensure delivery of services and continuity of care. She serves as a resource for other staff members to manage complex cases and to assist with problem solving.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Soror Polk has been supportive of the health care team, encouraging everyone to take care of themselves while continuing to assist the patients and their families.
Soror Stephanie Nobles is the manager for the Anatomic Pathology Laboratories at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas. As manager, she is responsible for the day to day operations of the cytology lab, surgical pathology lab, histology lab and autopsy services. Soror Nobles oversees 44 team members including supervisors and frontline staff. She is charged with managing lab operations by maintaining a budget, ensuring the supply chain is fulfilled, staffing all areas of the lab and providing support to all other areas of the hospital that have anatomic pathology labs. The services Soror Nobles oversee are invaluable, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Soror Lisa Taylor Kennedy, MD, DABA, DAPM, is the founding partner and CEO of Lisa Taylor Kennedy, MD, PA. She has been practicing anesthesia and pain management in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex for over 25 years. Soror Kennedy is equally as passionate about her work and philanthropy in the U.S. Virgin Islands. As a first responder during the COVID-19 pandemic, she has provided anesthesia for patients, including those positive for COVID-19, both in the DFW Metroplex and in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, she has volunteered with St. Luke Community United Methodist Church by registering members for COVID-19 testing. She has also called senior citizens weekly to respond to their needs during the pandemic, as well as spoken with them about the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
Since COVID-19 made its U.S. debut in March 2020, Soror Kellee Randle, DO, FACOI, has been focused on educating people and providing practical tips to reduce the risk of infection. Soror Randle, a board certified internal medicine physician, has a loyal Facebook following of over 800 people, who during the height of COVID-19 received daily information and tips. As a hospital-based physician, Soror Randle sees COVID-19 patients daily. She is responsible for managing care for her patients, which includes prescribing medications and respiratory treatments, and managing the ventilator for ICU patients. She also coordinates the patient’s care with other physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and other health care professionals. Over the last year, Dr. Randle has come to know firsthand what this virus is capable of. 11
New Orleans Alumnae Chapter As a certified nurse anesthetist during COVID-19, Soror Dasha Arnold, MN, CRNA, provided anesthesia for emergency procedures. She intubated patients in respiratory failure and rounded the hospital monitoring patient’s oxygenation. She found the experience to be very emotional, scary and filled with a tremendous amount of uncertainty. Her only refuge was spending time in prayer with the Lord.
As director of housing for the city of New Orleans' Office of Community Development, Soror Tyra Johnson Brown provided assistance coordinating and collaborating with the state of Louisiana to protect individuals experiencing homelessness from COVID-19. This led to over 400 individuals being housed in four local hotels and provided with three meals daily, laundry services and case management services to connect them with permanent housing.
Soror Andrea Fields, RN Cardiology, works as a registered nurse in cardiology at Ochsner Hospital Main campus in New Orleans. Most of her unit was COVID-19 patients. It was devastating and hard for her to see what this virus was doing to people’s bodies.
With over 26 years of nursing experience, Soror Denise Lucas Foxworth, BSN, RN, is employed by Louisiana Children’s Medical Center as a registered nurse system clinical analyst. She is responsible for the design and build of the electronic health records for the five hospitals in the LCMC system. During the pandemic, Soror Foxworth has covered the LCMC Health COVID-19 hotline, provided telehealth care and screened patients for COVID-19 symptoms.
Soror Debbie Jarrett, APRN, is an adult nurse practitioner. She currently screens individuals, especially those preparing for elective surgery, and health care workers for COVID-19.
Soror Deborah Haynes Johnson, MN, APRN, DCES, answered calls to New Orleans East Hospital’s COVID-19 hotline and triaged them for virtual visits and testing. While working at the hospital, she called patients’ family members everyday, informing them and giving updates on care. She helped connect families to their loved ones, since visitors were not allowed in the hospital.
Soror Edrice Morton, RN, is a nurse in an intensive care unit. In the ICU, work is urgent and the pace is rapid. COVID-19 intensified these conditions to levels that are uncharted. Teamwork is how the staff managed to take care of our patients, their families and, on occasion, ourselves. Love and support from communities are welcomed and appreciated as part of that “team.”
Soror Emerald Pinkney, RN, BSN, is currently on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic as a labor and delivery nurse at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas. She has shown courage while coming face to face with the coronavirus, serving mothers who have been infected.
As criminal justice commissioner, Soror Tenisha Stevens secured over 7 million dollars in funding for the city of New Orleans. Commissioner Stevens led a coordinated response, involving many criminal justice agencies and stakeholders to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Soror Cherylann Foster Westerfield, BSN, MCM, is the medical certification manager for the Louisiana Department of Health/ Health Standards Section. She has 45 years of nursing experience and is in charge of field office one, which comprises 17 parishes to survey. She surveyed and inspected facilities due to their exponential increase and outbreaks of COVID-19 patients.
Celebrating the Lifetime Commitment METROPOLITAN DALLAS ALUMNAE CHAPTER By Soror Tonya Muraguri
In honor of Founders Day, the Metropolitan Dallas Alumnae Chapter celebrated nine sorors who have achieved 25 years and two sorors who have achieved 50 years in the Sorority. Past National President Cynthia M.A. ButlerMcIntyre served as the keynote speaker for the event “Celebrating 25 & 50 Years of Labor, Love and Laughter.”
Kerry Washington and many others who reminded us of the greatness that lives within each of us. The honorees received gifts to symbolize labor, love and laughter, including a 25-year or 50-year plaque, pin, red velvet cake, engraved sterling silver necklace and other goodies.
Congratulations to all honorees: “Soror 24th National President was 25-Year Honorees: Sherrelle Evans Jones, Delia Holman, Shannon funny and personable and on point with her speech,” said one guest. “It Johnson, LaTasha Kelly Vaughn, was like she was coming through the Kendra Rodriguez, Phyllis Thompson, Amye Thompson Hollins, Bridgett screen to talk to me at home.” Whitmore and Tabitha Williams 50-Year Honorees: Mary Austin and Nearly 200 sorors, family members Marilyn Calhoun and friends enjoyed her message as she reflected on the aspects of labor, love and laughter. The event culminated with a salute to the sorors with a video called “Hey Queen” featuring celebrities like Jill Scott, Cicely Tyson, Angela Bassett,
Sherrelle Evans Jones
Amye Thompson Hollins
The Central Arkansas Alumnae Chapter Celebrates Two Members By Soror Jennice Haynes
Congratulations to Soror Nyree Williams, who was named Meadowcliff Elementary School Teacher of the Year for 2020 – 2021. Soror Williams was selected amongst her peers for representing the best of the best in her profession. She has been in education for 16 years and continues to be a beacon of light for her community during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the instructional technology specialist, she manages the technical platform for both staff and students in house and virtually. She also ensures all parents and children are informed and prepared for the end-of-year assessment. Soror Williams loves to assist children in learning. “It’s just a good feeling when you’re able to provide information to a child and they’re able to use and share it,” said Soror Williams.
Congratulations to Soror Ernestine Lawrence, a Delta DEAR of the Central Arkansas Alumnae Chapter who was named THV11’s Arkansan of the Day on Nov. 16, 2020. Months into the pandemic, many nonprofit organizations experienced setbacks and were in need of help. Our House, an organization that empowers homeless people and those who are nearly homeless, was in need of cooks and meal sponsors for homeless Arkansans. That’s when Soror Lawrence volunteered to sponsor a meal, an act that she thought would only be for one day. Since Soror Lawrence enjoys cooking and entertaining, she decided to continue providing meals for Our House. Our House thanked Soror Lawrence for “providing lunch weekly to our shelter residents since the pandemic started” on their Facebook page. “I attempt to share love in the meals that I prepare,” said Soror Lawrence. Because of the service in her heart, she was recognized as Arkansan of the Day.
ENT M MIT
T E I F M I L
This page: Soror Ollie M. Crawford with a plaque commemorating her 75 years in the Sorority. On the following page: Soror Crawford with members of the Gamma Epsilon Chapter.
On Feb. 20,1946, Ollie M. Crawford was initiated into the Gamma Epsilon Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. as a charter member. Gamma Epsilon later became an exclusively collegiate chapter on the campus of Texas College. After graduation, Soror Crawford joined the graduate chapter, then called Gamma Epsilon Sigma and later renamed Tyler Alumnae in 1958. As a Golden Life Member, Soror Crawford has been dedicated to leadership as the chair of numerous committees. She is Tyler Alumnae’s 17th Chapter President, serving from 1985 to 1987. Under her tenure, the Chapter hosted the first Delta Senior Debutante Ball and introduced the Junior Debutante Pageant to the community. Both of these events continue to this day. The Tyler Alumnae Chapter would like to thank Soror Crawford for 75 years of dedicated service. There is no way to fit 75 years of dedicated service into one tribute, but we thank Soror Crawford for a lifetime of labor, love and fun. We have been blessed as a chapter, as a community and individually because of her! ~ Soror Vera Moore, Tyler Alumnae Chapter
A Virtual Founders Day Celebration NEW ORLEANS ALUMNAE CHAPTER The New Orleans Alumnae Chapter hosted its virtual Founders Day celebration the weekend of Jan. 29 - 30, 2021. Founders Day Chair Andrea Thomas-Reynolds and Co-Chair Melva Sanders Malone, along with an innovative Founders Day committee, presented two Zoom programming events and a service project. The Founders Day theme was Joy, Power and Service: Discerning Our Past, Standing in Our Present, Taking Action for Our Future. By Soror Linda Howard-Curtis
DISCERNING OUR PAST: KEYNOTE ADDRESS We were elated to have our distinguished National Secretary Soror Elsie Cooke-Holmes, who is a member of the Dallas Alumnae Chapter, serve as keynote speaker as we celebrated our illustrious 22 Founders and commemorated 108 years of Sisterhood, Scholarship and Service. Soror Linda HowardCurtis, chapter president, introduced Soror Cooke-Holmes, noting her background of extensive commitment to public service, community involvement and executive leadership. Soror Cooke-Holmes began her address offering prayers and good wishes to our Southwest Regional Director Michelle Brown. She extended thanks and considered it an honor to have served with the 24th National President Cynthia Butler McIntyre and other past national leaders who are members of the Chapter. She noted how NOA appropriately chose the Founders Day theme, reflecting on the legacy of the past when 22 college
Sorors from the New Orleans Alumnae Chapter delivering gifts for Operation Sisterly Spirit, which supported sorors impacted by Hurricanes Laura and Delta.
women got involved in a national movement. She stated, “They were visionary women who didn’t seek to become famous or popular, but became impactful.” She challenged NOA to make a difference with bold programs and strategic partnerships. She proclaimed, “NOA, you are standing in our presence with your long list of program accomplishments, and you reshaped to accommodate our virtual world— working to supply iPads to the youth and virtual webinars are included in your long list of NOA achievements.” Soror CookeHolmes applauded our strength and asked all sorors to hold on and appreciate each other and what we have accomplished in times like these. She challenged us to never forget our legacy, never close our eyes or cover our ears to misinformation, voter suppression, education cuts and inequal health care in our communities, but to use the power in our voices to fight like never before as young girls look up to us. STANDING IN OUR PRESENT Following the keynote address, the committee recognized 34 NOA Sorors who celebrated their 25th and 50th Delta milestones. The coveted 2021 Delta of the Year award was presented to Soror Belencia Breaux in recognition of her dedication and commitment to our chapter. NOA’s 2021 Founders Day service project, Operation Sisterly Spirit, was a monthlong mission to support 122 Sorors of the Lake Charles Alumnae Chapter who were adversely impacted by Hurricanes Laura and Delta. Chapter members and friends of NOA provided a token of love in a greeting card and a personal word of encouragement. Chairs Hattie M. Broussard and Lavonzell Rainey Bridges coordinated a contactless gift card drop-off. This act of kindness warmed the
heart of the Lake Charles Chapter Alumnae President Carmen Gordon-Williams, who graciously acknowledged her appreciation on behalf of her members during the Founders Day program. Overall, $3,975 in gift cards were collected and distributed. Taking Action for Our Future On Friday, Jan. 29, the committee hosted NOA’s Virtual Conversation: Navigating Louisiana Higher Education in COVID times with Kim Hunter Reed, an esteemed soror and Louisiana commissioner of higher education. The session was moderated by Dr. Andrea Thomas-Reynolds and Soror Dione JosephBreckenridge, event chair. Commissioner Reed provided information on the state of higher education in Louisiana and shared information about various resources to support college costs in the state. She emphasized the need for students to take college prep courses and recommended SUNO Upward Bound programs as resources for students in the New Orleans Metropolitan area. Dr. Reed also encouraged the audience to visit the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance for more information about supporting college attendance costs. Soror Reed encouraged sorors to continue to engage public officials to advocate for the needs of our community. NOA extends sincere thanks to sorors who participated in our Founders Day events. While we were not able to physically be together, the spirit of love for our Sisterhood radiates in our hearts.
REDISTRICTING — IT MATTERS Shreveport Alumnae Chapter By Soror Gisele Proby-Bryant
The Shreveport Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. continues to distinguish itself as a service organization that boldly confronts the challenges of African Americans. As we navigate COVID-19 and provide service through a virtual, socially distanced environment, Social Action is committed to equipping stakeholders within our service areas of Caddo, Bossier and DeSoto parishes with tools to move from a fixed to growth mindset around redistricting in 2021 and 2022. In unprecedented times, SAC stepped out of its comfort zone and established a partnership collaboration with a nonpartisan group of women who are passionate about protecting our rights, freedom and our democracy. The organizations mutually agreed that redistricting was the hottest political topic that will affect all stakeholders for the next 10 years through 2031. The redrawing of legislative and congressional districts every 10 years, particularly in Louisiana, is often an abuse-prone process that supports gerrymandering.
of the pandemic, the census and various other aspects of the process. Via Zoom and Facebook Live, over 400 stakeholders, representing the diversity within the community, gathered virtually to hear from community leaders and ask pertinent questions on this hot topic. The panelists were knowledgeable and helped to simplify the often “intimidating” subject matter. They included state Rep. Sam Jenkins, who serves on the Housing and Governmental Affairs Committee, which oversees redistricting in the Louisiana Legislature; Stormy Gage-Watts, District 7 commissioner; and Dr. Gary Joiner, historian and cartographer at Louisiana State University in Shreveport. Soror Felicia Hamilton served as the moderator.
SAC proudly reports the virtual community forum was received favorably. Stakeholders expressed their appreciation for simplifying the complexity of redistricting and applauded the organizations for the virtual forum. This is just the beginning of On Jan. 12, 2021, SAC partnered with the what we believe will be a contentious process in Caddo-Bossier League of Women Voters to Louisiana, with a partisan majority representing host a community forum to raise awareness our legislative body. SAC will continue to use around the importance of drawing equitable Zoom, Facebook Live and other social media fair redistricting maps. Redistricting is the platforms to galvanize our community to work process by which governments redraw political toward equitable fair redistricting maps. To view districts every 10 years using the census data. SAC’s 2021 Louisiana Redistricting Community The 2021 “Louisiana Redistricting Community Forum and upcoming events, please visit us on Forum — The Nuts and Bolts” featured powerful Facebook via Shreveport Alumnae Chapter of panelists to educate and update the public on Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. or the League of redistricting, upcoming deadlines, the impact Women Voters of Caddo-Bossier.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING: TURNING COMPASSION INTO ACTION Louisiana Tri-Parish Alumnae Chapter By Soror Terilyn Harrison
Five years ago, the main sources of illegal money were the sale of illegal drugs, the sale of illegal firearms and the sale of humans. Currently, human trafficking is the number one source of illegal money worldwide, drawing approximately 40 billion dollars per year. On Jan. 21, 2021, the Louisiana Tri-Parish Alumnae Chapter hosted the “Human Trafficking: Turning Compassion into Action” virtual event to raise awareness in our communities. LTP’s event began with an introduction to the history of human trafficking by Mr. Dartanyon A. Williams, an author, innovator, servant-leader and catalyst for change. Mr. Williams shared with our viewers that human trafficking is nothing new, it’s modern-day slavery. The next presenter, Sen. Ronnie Johns, has served in the Louisiana Senate since 2012 and is a devoted advocate of human trafficking victims. He lives by the quote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Sen. Johns provided a plethora of information to include how he was instrumental in helping Louisiana to become one of the top states in the country at implementing laws to battle human trafficking. The Chapter then presented a video about a sex trafficking survivor named Oree, who at 11 years old was manipulated by someone who pretended to care about her well-being. This was a shocking and heartbreaking account of how human traffickers come in many different
forms. Next were Special Agents Stephanie Hanson and David Borgetti, who work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Baton Rouge on the Violent Crimes Against Children/ Human Trafficking Violent Crime Squad. The agents presented an overview of the crime, key terms and actions taken by law enforcement to battle the crime. They also provided contact information to report suspected human trafficking, stressing that you don’t have to be sure about your suspicions in order to make a report. LTP then ended the evening with an education on the plight of refugees and immigrants from Mr. Dauda Sesay, the founding member and president of the Louisiana Organization for Refugees and Immigrants. LORI is a nonprofit organization that assists refugees, immigrants and other vulnerable persons, some of whom are survivors of human trafficking, with their integration into the United States. Mr. Sesay left attendees with powerful words, urging our viewers to turn their compassion into action. This event was streamed through the chapter’s Facebook account and reached more than 669 people. There were 22 shares, 304 engagements, 490 views and 62 comments. Attendees provided feedback that this event was outstanding and that they gained knowledge of how to recognize signs of human trafficking and how they can become involved in this work.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
TEXARKANA SORORS ACTIVELY ENGAGE IN NATIONAL PRIORITIES By Soror Linda Harlston Members of the Texarkana Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. used their personal influence in carrying out the national organization’s social action priorities of census 2020, General Election 2020 and the social issue of systemic injustice on the local level as well across the United States. In helping local citizens understand and provide support for the affairs of the nation, Texarkana Deltas led the way with its “Feet on the Street” campaign. Aspects of the campaign were sorors working within their congregations helping the church membership become aware of the urgency of completing the census form and returning it. Sorors committed to talking with at least 13 people about voter registration, voting and the 2020 Census. The chapter president used radio call-ins for voter and census fact-checking to maintain citizen civic awareness. Sample ballots were provided for Texas and Arkansas voters as a means to assist and educate. Using social media and technology, the chapter posted a photo collage focusing on the 2020 General Election and Census 2020. The membership posted to their personal Facebook accounts on Tuesdays in support of Delta’s Census Day with the hashtag #DSTUCOUNT. Texarkana Alumnae members had opportunities to talk with and provide 2020 census information
to community attendees of the “Where Do We Go from Here Rally.” The Panhellenic Council, Texarkana Chapter and the Greater Texarkana National Association for the Advancement of Colored People sponsored the rally. The goal was to provide information on voting education and rights. Twenty-five people were registered to vote during the weekend rally. Still actively engaged in the organization’s national priorities, some individual Deltas volunteered their time and energy by being advocates and workers for census 2020. Other members became voter registrars and election officials for the 2020 General Election. “Sorors in Solidarity” is the national theme supporting changes for systemic social injustice. The Texarkana Deltas are in solidarity with members across the nation and other organizations. “Marching Humbly for Justice” was the rally call for Texarkana Deltas to meet downtown in front of the Bi-State Federal building – others heard the call and came too. The purpose of the rally was to demonstrate support against disparities and injustices for people of color. Supporting the Black Lives Matter movement was another focus element of the rally. Texarkana Deltas led the way.
Sorors in Solidarity
Albuquerque Alumnae Cebebrates New Elected Officials BY SOROR BRENDA J. STEELE The Albuquerque Alumnae Chapter hosted a congratulatory virtual reception for New Mexico’s recently elected Black officials. The honored guests made New Mexico history when voters elected them as the first Black people in their respective positions. The Chapter invited the other Divine Nine organizations to develop a stronger relationship with the Black community and these new leaders. The history-makers are: Gerald M. Byers, the first Black district attorney for the Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Dona Ana County, the second largest prosecution office in the state; Shammara H. Henderson, New Mexico Court of Appeals judge, the first Black appellate judge and Black woman to hold statewide office; and Harold J. Pope Jr., state senator for the 23rd District, the first Black State Senator in the state’s 108year history. Soror Sonya Morring Smith, a history-maker in her own right, served as the event’s mistress of ceremonies. Soror Smith was recently appointed cabinet secretary-designate of the New Mexico Department of Veterans Services, the first Black person appointed to the position. Soror Smith kicked off the program by sharing Delta’s history of social action. “The women of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. have taken an active interest in our nation’s political scene working to ensure our communities are informed and represented,” she explained. “The Albuquerque Alumnae Chapter, chartered in 1967, has continued that mission right here in New Mexico.” The elected officials answered questions from the Political Awareness and Involvement (PAI) Committee and guests. Soror LaSheba Bowens, poet and past Political Awareness and Involvement chair, created an inspiring, powerful spoken word called “These Hands” in honor of the elected officials. The chapter framed the poem as a gift to each official in appreciation for their acquired new positions. Chapter President Jasmyn Madison closed out the reception by encouraging everyone to get involved, stay engaged and be proactive. Chairpersons Rada Moss and Olivia Jackson plan to host another event after the elected officials’ first 100 days in office.
BEXAR AREA ALUMNAE CHAPTER PARTICIPATES IN MLK DAY VIRTUAL CELEBRATION BY SOROR LISA THEILENGERDES In alignment with our Sorority’s Five-Point Programmatic Thrust, including Political Awareness and Involvement as well as Social Action, the sorors of Bexar Area Alumnae Chapter celebrated MLK Day. On Monday, Jan. 18, sorors honored the life and legacy of the illustrious Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ultimate sacrifice for freedom. The New Braunfels MLK Association conducted its sixth annual program in which many local community leaders, performers and sponsors were invited to participate through a virtual platform. Bishop Michael D. Franklin, the current president of the New Braunfels MLK Association, delivered a warm welcome followed by a prayer from Pastor Ray Steele of the Oakwood Baptist Church. The mayor of New Braunfels, Mr. Rusty Brockman, was also in attendance. He spoke on behalf of the City Council and residents as he expressed his appreciation and pledged his support of the Association. The featured speaker, Dr. Renee Watson, the chairperson of the San Antonio MLK Commission, reminded attendees about Dr. King’s push for equity, equality and social, political and economic justice. She challenged sorors to remain focused on those ideals as we continue to be vigilant in the fight for freedom. Attendees also heard from Dr. Gregory Hudspeth, the president of the NAACP San Antonio Branch. He delivered a heartfelt, powerful speech outlining the history of unjust laws used to target and disenfranchise African Americans. Dr. Hudspeth also condemned the current acts of violence that we are witnessing in our country today. He encouraged us to remain politically active and to confront all injustices anywhere as it is a threat to justice everywhere. Next, we were introduced to a very important presenter, Mr. Jon Michael Franklin. As a teen activist, he petitioned the New Braunfels City Council to create an association to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lastly, we listened to beautiful musical selections by Soul Sessions, Voices and Praise UTSA Gospel Choir and Resurrection Baptist Church Men’s Choir. We were truly blessed by each of these spirit-filled moving performances! The last event conducted by the NBMLK Association was a ZOOM Game, “Nothing Trivial About History and Dr. King,” hosted by attorney Susan Tate. Tate quizzed attendees over important historical facts about the life of Dr. King. Members of the Bexar Area Alumnae Chapter were inspired after attending this dynamic virtual presentation. For six years since its inception, our Chapter has supported the New Braunfels MLK Association. Under the guidance of BAAC Chapter President Karen Trotty Douglas, Programs, Planning and Development Committee Co-Chairpersons Soror Syble Johnson and Soror Beryl Douglas-Williams, our Sorority has remained steadfast in its commitment to this endeavor. We have contributed to the association’s non-traditional scholarship program which awards financial assistance to recipients interested in attending various trainings and schools. We commend the association for their unwavering commitment to keeping Dr. King’s dream alive. Members of the Bexar Area Alumnae Chapter will continue to stand in solidarity with the association and plan to develop more partnership opportunities in the future.
Exploring the World of Creativity Through a Power in Poetry Youth Workshop
BY SOROR ERICA L. WILLIAMS The nation watched as Amanda Gorman, a 22-yearold African American woman and United States National Youth Poet Laureate, performed at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration. Like Gorman, the Arts and Letters Committee of the Baton Rouge Delta Alumnae Chapter understands the importance of words. They shared that knowledge with the young ladies of the Betty Shabazz Delta Academy. On Jan. 19, 2021, the committee presented the academy participants with a virtual poetry introduction workshop via Zoom. The young ladies listened as award-winning slam poet Chancelier “Xero” Skidmore, director of community engagement at the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, facilitated a dynamic and informative workshop.
Skidmore, a writer, spoken word poet, educator and percussionist, is a former winner of the Individual World Poetry Slam competition. He introduced the participants to “list poems.” This poetry style allows the writer to organize their subject matter in a free form and poetic way. He enthusiastically expounded on the meanings of poetic terms such as figurative language, similes and metaphors and how to use them in poetry in fresh and exciting ways. The girls were encouraged to integrate their personal feelings in their poems by exemplifying emotions and writing about their passions. The participants actively and enthusiastically engaged in dialogue and the question and answer session via the chat option. Skidmore strategically used the workshop’s timing, which took place the day after MLK Day and the day before the inauguration, and encouraged the young ladies to stay relevant. He asked the girls to write poems expressing their feelings about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the historic election. By the time the workshop ended, Skidmore had planted seeds of inspiration and sparked creativity in the participants so that they too can aspire to such heights someday.
Slam poet Chancelier Skidmore
SOUTHEAST ARKANSAS ALUMNAE’S ANNUAL GALA CELEBRATES UNSUNG HEROES BY SOROR YVONDA JONES
Every February since 2019, the Southeast Arkansas Alumnae Chapter has hosted a Red Gala to celebrate love and Black history contributions. During the last two celebrations, the chapter dedicated the Red Gala to recognize contributions from members in the community. For this year’s 3rd Annual Red Gala, Southeast Arkansas Alumnae decided to pivot for COVID-19 and virtually honor the pandemic’s unsung heroes — essential workers who have stood at the front lines of educational systems and health care facilities.
willingness to devote time and energy to the betterment of the community. While there are so many to recognize and thank during this pandemic, Southeast Arkansas Alumnae wanted to highlight and thank “behind the scenes” heroes who have made it happen and continue to make it happen during the pandemic.
Those heroes included school bus drivers who shuttled students back-and-forth to school for intervention time with their teachers and delivered meals to students who are learning virtually. The Chapter awarded food service employees who stepped up to make sure students are fed, whether they’re learning virtually or in person. They’ve been serving curbside grab-and-go meals at no cost and teaming with community leaders to provide free produce boxes and meal kits to families. Additionally, they’ve revamped their safety procedures to make sure students are safe when eating at school. Southeast Arkansas Alumnae also wanted to thank custodians and sanitation workers who are currently helping organizations across school districts and cities have all of the supplies they need to provide a safe learning environment for students and staff. These essential workers are an integral part of what keeps communities afloat, and the Chapter decided to show gratitude and appreciation for their tenacity and determination, their endless hours of service and their
Soror Autumn Caviness is giving Black women newscasters their flowers. Words by Soror Kennedy Williams Photos Courtesy of Soror Autumn Caviness
Soror Caviness, a fall 2020 initiate in the Austin Alumnae Chapter, is pursuing a Ph.D in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin. Her research investigates how Black women newscasters show up on air. But Soror Caviness’ work doesn’t merely count how many Black women are present in the top 100 TV markets in the country — it deciphers whether they appear on camera as their full selves, with all aspects of their Blackness and womanhood in full view. As racial injustice and social unrest continue to plague this country, Black journalists are tasked with accurately reporting on communities that look just like them, all while determining if they will — or can — tell these stories while sporting braids or twist outs or a name that’s different from the average white newscaster’s. Soror Caviness’ current work at UT Austin is the culmination of many parts of her journey: She’s using skills she learned while pursuing her bachelor's and master's degrees in communication from Texas A&M University. She’s building on the storytelling skills she gained while studying at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, and she’s challenging herself to jump wholeheartedly into her passions, just like she encourages students at Huston-Tillotson University, a historically Black university in Austin, Texas, where she works, to do every day. Here, we discuss redefining objectivity in journalism, pushing past surface-level representation, trusting one’s inner voice and legacy.
Was there a particular moment in your life that led to you centering Black women’s experiences in your work? There is a Steve Jobs quote that he used in a graduation speech at Stanford — he says a lot of the time you don’t know how the dots are connected until you look back. When I look at all the dots of my life, I knew I always wanted to talk about representation and I wanted to talk about my people specifically. This dissertation project, I never would have done it four or five years ago in the same way, because I don’t know if I would have had the courage to say that I’m just focusing on Black women or I just want to know about us and understand how we show up on camera. Are we allowed to show up as ourselves, even when we’re objectively telling the news? Are we allowed to show up authentically as ourselves?
This work also came out of a question a student asked me one time in a podcasting class. The student from Huston-Tillotson was about to go on the job market. The student said, 'Do I need to get a weave if I want to get a job on air?’ I didn’t know how to answer that. The big sister in me was like ‘absolutely.’ But then the big sister in me also remembered when the same student came back to class three years prior and she had big chopped and we all clapped for her. So how can I tell this student that we were so proud of her embracing who she was authentically to then say that she needs to cover that up so she can get a job in the market? I didn’t have any definitive answers about how Black women have to show up in newsrooms that I could see aside from anecdotal narratives. I couldn’t see numerically anyone looking at Black women individually. With the research we were able to do, we didn’t just count Black women. A lot of times we just count the presence of a Black woman—that’s what we are, a monolith. But that’s not who we are. We’re more than our hair, we’re more than our skin tone, we’re more than our body size. We’re more. We’re everything. That’s what I wanted to remind Black women. How is this project pushing back at objectivity in journalism or redefining it? I picture my research having the news industry really look at what Black women go through to be on air. Because it’s more than a silk press or a weave. It’s never just a blowout of hair. It’s never that simple. It’s a part of our ideas of hair growing up. It’s a part of our skin tone and if we felt slighted or felt that people slighted us in our family. All of that goes into play. It’s me asking the industry to see Black women—and not as in seeing one or two at the moment, but seeing Black women in our entirety and our fullness and our nuances. There were almost 11,000 images of newscasters in the top 100 markets that we looked at to pick out 826 Black women. Once you see Black women, then you rethink what objectivity is. We’re having Black woman speak on some of the most horrific race relations and racial unrests that we’ve seen in this country. They’re asked to speak about what’s been happening in an objective manner when who has been slain looks like their sister or brother or child. It’s about redefining what objectivity is to include perspectives other than those of traditional,
mainstream newscasters. In the fall, Soror Caviness and a team of researchers “coded” the headshots of Black women newscasters in the top 100 TV markets in the U.S. This process involved labeling and organizing headshots based on the hair type and length, skin tone, names and body type of each newscaster. The coded headshots and interviews with newscasters are helping Soror Caviness interpret how Black women present themselves in newsrooms. Why do you think it’s important that you as a Black woman did this research? It goes back to me wanting to tell stories about our people and our community from our voice. I remember when we were coding, and we said that we had been coding people our whole lives. That’s not to say that someone from an outside perspective wouldn’t have a nuance that I could be too close to see. But this is my story and my love letter to us as Black women from a Black woman. This is me saying I get you. At the end of the day, you don’t want the micro aggressions, you just want to do your work and be embraced for who you are and not be held to a standard of beauty or hair that doesn’t align with who you are inherently. I think sometimes in research we try to make everything so that everyone can do it. I really believe in my heart of hearts that you truly have to know an audience to tell a story sometimes. I had to tell this story correctly because it’s me. How did you select the people you interviewed? The best part of this came through connections. I would say over 60% came through connections where friends knew what I was doing and they were like, ‘let me ask my homegirl who is in the news.’ People came through. An incredible Sorority came through as well. A number of newscasters, without giving away their identity, were able to help because they wanted to see a soror’s work happen. That was really special to me. What moments or anecdotes from your interviews stand out to you? I would say hearing interviewees truly embrace their curls, embrace braids, embrace their
“This is my story and my love letter to us as Black women from a Black woman.” how Black women show up? Market matters. You see more varied representations of Black women, for example, in Memphis or Detroit because there’s a sheer proportionality of Black people in that market. When a newscaster is in a certain market with more Black individuals, there’s perhaps a willingness to have more variations and allow Black women to show up in different ways. For smaller markets, there will be fewer Black women showing up in different ways because a lot of times she’s the only one in that market and adheres to a more traditional newscaster look: the longer-thanshoulder-length hair, the average body type.
On this page: An image of Soror Caviness as a Delta Debutante. On page 37: An image of Soror Caviness and her mother, Soror Gwendolyn Caviness, at Austin Alumnae and Alpha Kappa’s 90th chapter anniversary celebration. skin tone. But also hearing from some of the interviewees who have been in the industry for a long time that because they were the first Black woman in their markets or because they did good, solid work, it lead other news directors hiring other Black women, they think. They could see the progeny of their work. When you can show up as your full self and do amazing work, that’s the mic drop moment. Seeing that Black women are now being able to do that is everything. Also seeing that the younger generation is now inspiring the older generation of journalists by saying ‘Oh, I didn’t know I couldn’t show up with my hair natural’ or ‘I didn’t know I had to change my name.’ They’re giving courage to others by showing their own light. Can you talk about some of the nuances by region in
You’ve talked about courage and seeing how Black women are pushing to show up as their full selves. How were you, if at all, challenged to be courageous while working on your dissertation? What really sustained me was fortitude and thinking about what our First National President Sadie Alexander had to do to get a Ph.D. What did our Founder who received a Ph. D have to go through? And for my grandmother, who was a domestic, she was so happy when I went to A&M and was able to get my degrees there. She couldn’t have gone to A&M. Sometimes I have to put it in that kind of perspective. I as a Black woman in 1940 would not have sat here and had this conversational space, I would not be in a Ph.D program, I would not be able to talk about Black women’s representation. I think a lot of Black women wrestle with the fact that it’s not fair. There’s so much that we have to go through, but we know it’s going to make a difference for the following generation and people seeing Black women in a multidimensional way. How do you think overall this project is impacting your journey moving forward? What parts of yourself have changed because of this work? The fact that I could come up with a project that
meant the world to me and that I believe really will bring insight into the lives and experiences of Black women? The fact that I could have the courage to do that? That is a far cry from me five or six years ago when I might have been afraid to do a project that spoke to my soul, because I felt like I had to do things that other people wanted me to do. But this is what I wanted to do. This is the story, this is the dissertation that I wanted to write. This is research looking at how Black women have to show up because this is who was hired. There’s a moxie about the stories that these women have shared. And I hope that I, too, have developed that same moxie and courage to tackle stories that are difficult and nuanced but have to be told. What do you think has to be present in a newsroom for Black women to feel safe and supported in doing their jobs ? Black women have to have management teams in place, news directors who have their back, who say ‘OK wear the braids, cool. We may get some feedback from viewers, but we have your back.’ I think that kind of assistance helps that newscaster in so many ways. It allows her colleagues to see that she’s valued. We’re also seeing now that newscasters and their teams really push back at negative comments from people about how they show up in the newsroom. Diversity and inclusion
training is important as well. How do you define your legacy and what do you think it will be with this project? I do see this work as part of a Delta legacy. I come from a long line of women wanting to do work that leaves a lasting, indelible impression. My mom is a teacher — she taught in a school district for almost 40 years. My great aunt also was a teacher. The two biggest inspirations for my mom even becoming an educator were my great aunt and Myra Davis Hemmings, who was from Gonzales. Soror Davis Hemmings taught my grandfather, and she taught my great aunts communication and theater and the gift of being present. It’s a fascinating through line because I teach public speaking and communication and media. What we do today becomes a legacy for others. We’ve been saying ‘I’m my ancestors' wildest dreams,’ but I’ve been saying to a couple of my line sisters, ‘I am my Founders' wildest dreams.’ With everything that they fought for, that they decided to put on the line, who are we to go out there and not be great and not push through as the legacies of their dreams?
MARK YOUR CALENDAR FOR EMPOWERMENT WEEKEND!
PROJECT 108: A VALENTINE’S DAY SERVICE PROJECT Alpha Kappa Chapter, Huston-Tillotson University Written by Soror Natalia Cox Photos by Soror Kennedy Thompson On Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, the Alpha Kappa Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. fulfilled Project 108 by sending four members to homeless communities surrounding East Austin, Texas, to participate in a contactless collection delivery. Sorors donned medical-grade personal protective equipment to ensure minimal exposure and maintained the recommended 6-foot social distancing guidelines to deliver the care packages to homeless communities. The Alpha Kappa Chapter donated more than 200 COVID-19 care packages consisting of masks suitable in protecting against the coronavirus, water and hand sanitizer. Scarfs, gloves, hats, small blankets, jackets and pampers, which became very helpful in preparation for Winter Storm Uri, were also provided. Once the care packages were secured at the drop-off site, each of the participating sorors properly sanitized themselves prior to returning to her respective home quarantine location. Sorors of The Alpha Kappa Chapter are extremely grateful for the ability to help the East Austin community in a time of extreme need and neglect. Special thanks, appreciation and gratitude are expressed to Chapter Sorors Natalia Cox, Shantel Torres, Shelby Henderson and Kennedy Thompson for the construction and success of this service project.
On the previous page: Soror Natalia Cox and Soror Shantel Torres with supplies. On this page: Soror Torres and Soror Shelby Henderson unload items.
“For we know that when this tent we live in now is taken down—when we die and leave these bodies— we will have wonderful new bodies in heaven, homes that will be ours forevermore, made for us by God himself and not by human hands.” (2 Corinthians 5:1 TLB) We pause in the presence of God’s peace to give thanks for the life and legacy of Soror Natalia Monet Cox, whose earthly tent is now taken down and who has joined the Omega Omega Chapter. Her service and commitment to Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. will be cherished as we recall her contributions to Alpha Kappa Chapter and the Austin, Texas, communities. Words of a familiar gospel tune, “May The Works I’ve Done Speak For Me,” ring melodiously in the memory of Soror Cox. Hear the rhythm of her desire for Service and Sisterhood as she became a “Woman of Distinction,” serving as chapter secretary for Alpha Kappa and coordinating a service project to aid fellow Texans. Hear the rhythm as she exceled in leadership at Huston-Tillotson, serving as acting president of the Pre-Alumni Council, sitting on the executive board of Deeds Not Words and holding a prestigious internship with Texas Parks and Wildlife as a researcher for two years. Yes, sorors, hear the rhythm of one who was known for educating the community on topics of fitness, veganism, sustainability and minimalism. She passionately spoke on diversity within her hometown community of Melissa, Texas and recently found joy in making customized wigs for cancer patients that lost their hair during chemo treatments. As we continue to remember and share our fondest memories of our soror, may we cling to the peace that God promises will guard our hearts and minds. May we hold fast to the hope of “in that great getting up morning” we will stroll together in grace. May we proudly carry the torch of Soror Cox’s spirit, demonstrating life is not the same as living and living is about giving. From my spirit to yours, Rev. Dr. LaVerne Whitehead Reed Southwest Regional Chaplain Michelle R. Brown Southwest Regional Director
Lauryn A. Cornish Southwest Regional Representative
THE MIGHTY LAMBDA CHI CHAPTER By Soror Keiara Mapps
SOCIAL ACTION The Lambda Chi Chapter at The University of Texas at Arlington has held several COVID-19-friendly events this school year. We held an election watch party to keep the student body aware of what was taking place in our nation and the news. We then held our Black History Month event, “When They See Us,” which included everything from spoken word to influential speakers educating the audience about the issues we face as a demographic and what can be done. In March, Lambda Chi collaborated with the Arlington Alumnae Chapter for the “Pearls, Pumps and Politics” event, allowing women in politics to speak about their personal journeys and inspire the next wave of political figures to come after them.
We are currently collaborating with Collection of Brothers, another organization on campus that is deeply rooted in the Black community. The goal of the collaboration is to gather testing aids such as pencils, snacks and water to donate to a minority school of our choice. This will be done with the hopes of enhancing the courage, spirit and scores of young ones being tested. The Chapter currently holds three members: Allison Valdez, president; Keiara Mapps, who acts as financial, recording and corresponding secretaries; and Sierra Robers, treasurer. Although COVID-19 has made things difficult, it has not made making an impact impossible with hard work and dedication. We have managed to successfully host several impactful events to illustrate that the chapter is remaining both positive and powerful.
EMPOWERMENT The first month we returned to school this year, we held “Girls Need Love Too,” an event where guest speakers talked about the issues that we as women face every day and the ways we can better ourselves. This event illustrated that women can acquire power by taking the necessary steps to earn it, leaving the female student body feeling uplifted and aware of resources. This was our opportunity to let the university know that Lambda Chi is aware of our current social climate and is not afraid to talk about it.
NORTHWEST ARKANSAS AREA ALUMNAE CHAPTER PROMOTES FINANCIAL FREEDOM By Soror Tanya Cook
The Northwest Arkansas Area Alumnae Chapter believes it’s never too early to start learning about finances. In a joint effort with the Northwest Arkansas Chapter of the Links, Inc., the Chapter hosted a free virtual Financial Freedom Workshop in February for families with children 15 years old and older and individual participants. This was the first collaboration between the organizations, but the Second Financial Freedom Workshop for Northwest Arkansas Area Alumnae. Soror Emmily Leavy, chapter treasurer and CEO/Founder of Clothes to Children, presented the workshop to approximately 100 virtual attendees. Soror
Leavy explained the “ABC’s” of money management, how to increase income and savings, decreasing debt and how to understand and increase credit scores. He quizzed attendees with finance questions, the attendee with the correct answer received prizes. The Chapter said the goal of the workshop was for the attendees to be able to recite the “ABC’s” of financial stewardship, list ways they can raise their credit scores and apply what they learned from the workshop to everyday life. The majority of students who participated said the workshop provided them with at least three ways to improve their finances.
The Jamaica Alumnae Chapter Proclaims Dec. 15, 2020, “Soror Adah E. Pierce Day” By Soror Jewel Daniels Radford
A portrait of Soror Pierce.
The Jamaica Alumnae Chapter declared Dec. 15, 2020 as “Soror Adah E. Pierce Day.” This honor was bestowed upon Soror Pierce on the occasion of her 85th Birthday. She was showered with a luncheon, a hand sketched portrait and photograph, a copy of “Promised Land” by former President Barack Obama and tons of love and appreciation. Initiated in the Alpha Beta Chapter at Fisk University in the Fall of 1954, she distinguished herself as a Ford Foundation Fellow and social activist earning her a place in “Who’s Who of American Women.” Soror Adah was the first Black faculty member at the University of Tennessee and spent much of her adult life serving around the world in places like Addis Ababa, Switzerland and the United Nations in New York alongside her husband, Richard Pierce, who served as a Jamaican Ambassador. Mentored by the Sorority’s 10th and 12th National Presidents, Dr. Dorothy I. Height and Dr. Jeanne L. Noble, respectively, Soror Adah is a true Delta Treasure.
BAHA Spills the Tea with Cherished DEARS By Kimberley Baker
The Bay Area Houston Alumnae Chapter tipped their hats and hearts to 15 Delta DEARS during the Chapter’s annual tea salute, which honored these cherished members on March 4. More than 50 sorors celebrated with the BAHA DEARS in the virtual event jointly helmed by the chapter’s International Involvement and Awareness and Membership Services Committees. BAHA saluted DEARS Rhonda Johnson, Regenia Hammond, Florence Robins, Brenda Powell, Beryl Shorter, Brenda Melancon, Celia Harness, Gail Love, Helen Childs, J. Chynell Fisher, Jane Martin, Janice Hall, Lavernia Bowman, Linda Burrell, Lonnie Austin and Sharon Tipps. The Sunday soiree encompassed a “partyin-a-box” setup with flavored teas, cookies, biscotti, almonds and tealight candles. Hosted on International Women’s Day, the event’s theme “Sip and Sit with the Dears” showcased stories about members, including a discussion on which female role models inspired them most and interesting facts about each honoree. Purple was the color of the day as sorors sported all types of fascinators and various shades of the royal color in attire and gloves to match. Activities included a prayer, setting the occasion, a ceremonial unwrapping of tea boxes and a game of virtual Bingo, which served to highlight various types of teas. Audience members were polled on whether they would
prefer to sip tea with acting heartthrobs Idris Elba or Regé-Jean Page, if the opportunity was presented. Hosts also explained the history of high tea, an ode to the English tradition of a petite meal, used as a means to control appetites until dinner time. Sip and Sit with the DEARS is just one of the events that BAHA hosted during Sisterhood Month. Other activities included a prayer service call, a 1.6 mile walk for physical and mental well-being, a virtual church service, a paint and jam party and, lastly, a nauticalthemed 16th chapter anniversary celebration. Since 2005, BAHA has been anchored in the Greater Southeast Houston area proudly serving the communities of Clear Lake, Friendswood, Pasadena, Pearland, Seabrook and Webster.
Soror Brenda Powell
Soror Rhonda Johnson
Soror Sonja Baker