by Shani K. Collins
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated is one of the nation’s oldest and largest predominately African-American sororities. In 1913, twenty-two college-educated female visionaries founded the organization on the campus of Howard University. Today, the organization proudly boasts more than 200,000 members who are committed to using their collective strength to promote academic excellence; to provide scholarships; to provide support to the underserved; to educate and stimulate participation in the establishment of positive public policy; and to highlight issues and provide solutions for problems in their communities. This year, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated celebrates its Centennial year with wonderful events and activities that will take place throughout the world. As a proud member of the organization, and an active member of the Birmingham Alumnae Chapter, I am more than proud to celebrate Centennial year with my sisters, my “sorors” throughout the world.
We live in a society where the personal values of African-American women are constantly called into question. Music videos, bias media images, and reality television shows perpetuate negative stereotypes and demeaning images of black women and “sisterhood” to the world. Often times, the positive work that is being carried out within our communities by women of Delta Sigma Theta, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Zeta Phi Beta, Sigma Gamma Rho, as well as by other women who are not members of Greek-letter organizations is diminished because of the media’s negative portrayal of African-American women. Despite efforts to diminish the image of African-American women, I am proud to know that women from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, and other Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLOs) across the world remain committed to letting their faith, their intelligence, and their passion and desire to serve the communities around them speak for them.
I love, admire, and respect my organization, and the women of Delta for so many reasons. Growing up, I always admired the Delta women within my church and hometown of Greenwood, Mississippi. As a teen, I did not know much about the organization, but I knew that many of my hometown’s educators and leaders were Deltas. My older sister, Kanika and I were both Delta Debutantes in high school, and were able to meet and work directly with the women of the Greenwood-Itta Bena Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. As a debutante, I enjoyed the experience of meeting other young ladies, learning about college, doing community service, and simply having fun. While matriculating as students at Tougaloo College, Kanika and I were fortunate to be initiated into the Gamma Psi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. Although we were initiated into Delta three years apart from each other, we both had a sense of pride in knowing that we were “Gamma Psi Girls.” Our chapter was the first undergraduate chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated chartered within the state of Mississippi. I think all women of Delta share that same sense of pride in their chapter of initiation.
Today, I have been a Delta for nearly thirteen years, and active with three alumnae chapters. As I reflect on my time in Delta, I am so grateful that God lead my sister and me to the organization. Through Delta, I am able to live out my commitment to the community, and carry out the vision of the twenty-two Founders. Indeed, I am proud to be a Delta woman, and very proud to wear crimson and cream. The first public act performed by the Delta Founders involved their participation in the Women’s Suffrage March in Washington D.C., March 1913. I look forward to joining my sisters in Washington, D.C., in March 2013, for the re-enactment of the Women’s Suffrage March. Equally, I look forward to continuing my work in Delta this year, Centennial year, but also for many, many years to come.
To my sisters, my “sorors” of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated across the world, I celebrate this Centennial year with each of you, and wish you many, many wonderful and blessed years in Delta.
Shani K. Collins is a freelance writer, a community servant, and a college instructor, completing her doctoral degree in social work at the University of Alabama. She is an active member of the Birmingham Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority, Incorporated. You may visit her at: www.shanicollins.com