In 1908, only one generation removed from slavery and during the years preceding WWI, the Women’s Suffrage Movement and the Great Depression, a group of intelligent, forward thinking, and socially aware Howard University students desired to make a change for the betterment of the African American community. During this time characterized by political uprising, economic depression, and unequal opportunity and before the existence of specialized organizations such as the NAACP, African Americans were helplessly asking, “Who will help us?” and, “Who will make known the needs of the African American community?” To these questions, these legendary Howard University students answered, “Alpha Kappa Alpha.”
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. is the first Greek letter sorority created for and by African American women. Since its founding January 15, 1908, members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority have not only acknowledged the political, social and economic needs of African Americans, but they have used AKA as a conduit through which to deliver much needed aid, encouragement, education, and “service to all mankind.”
The centennial birthday of this immaculate and trailblazing organization is both a time of celebration and reflection for members around the world.
Ms. Jacqueline Harris, a 10-year soror of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., reflects on her experiences as a member, “I have several fond memories as a member of AKA. Being inducted in my later years was certainly a highlight for me. Here I was a woman over 50 realizing my life’s dream to become a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha...The support I received will always remain a very fond memory.
“Another fond memory for me was...my first regional conference where I witnessed the first real meaning of sisterhood...the coming together of so many women with a clear purpose in mind and focused on the goals and objectives of AKA instilled a lasting memory in my mind and heart.”
Since its founding, AKA has made a lasting impact on its members and community. Jadah Fort of Zeta Eta chapter comments on how membership has influenced her sense of social responsibility and college career, “Looking back on my college career, I was always inclined to maintain a high grade point average and be involved in productive activities on and off campus. Becoming a member of a Greek letter organization gave me a greater sense of responsibility. “As a member of AKA, I was aware that I was always representing both myself and organization, even when I was not wearing my letters. People notice Greeks, whether it is in a positive or negative way, and I was conscious of that.”
AKA has been positively recognized for its many contributions to the world in the fields of health awareness, higher education and community service. Reflecting on the many accomplishments of AKA over the past 100 years, Ms. Fort comments, “The fact that we have remained a strong perpetual body is a great accomplishment. For 100 years, AKA has managed to acquire new individual members who possess the same collective ideas, beliefs, purpose, and morals as our founders.”
“We must ensure that the principles and moral values that we hold as important are shared with our young people and we must institute programs to develop their leadership skills,” says Ms. Harris, excited about what the next hundred years of AKA in service will bring. It is often said that the best prediction of one’s future is one’s past. Judging from the accomplishments of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, its future will be as celebrated and impressive as its past.