My cousin whom I’ll call AKA Jan (Slidell, LA) sent this photograph to me in celebration of the founding of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.,
(AKA, January 15, 1908) and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., (DST, January 13, 1913), two organizations celebrating over 100 years of scholarship, service, and a continued commitment to empowering women across the world.
Long before I became a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., AKA Jan was a sister-friend to me; dispensing encouragement, stretching my musical taste, introducing me to the magic of Broadway, offering to share her apartment and providing invaluable subway instructions when I spent my first summer as a college student working in New York City. It was AKA Jan who told me that I – a young woman from a small town in Georgia had infinite possibilities. And when I became Delta Val (Fall, 1976), it was AKA Jan who offered immediate congratulations despite my hesitation in telling her that I had chosen to wear a different set of symbols and colors. When my own niece expressed an interest in Alpha Kappa Alpha, I thought of AKA Jan and how she would respond.
AKA Jan taught me way back then that sister-friend love could and would transcend symbols and the umbrellas that we carried. I believe Maya Angelou captured it best when writing about sisterhood: “Sisterhood and brotherhood are conditions people have to work at…sisterhood is a serious matter…you compromise, you give, you take, you stand firm, and you’re relentless…and it is an investment. Sisterhood means if you happen to be in Burma and I happen to be in San Diego, and I’m married to someone who is very jealous and you’re married to somebody who is very possessive, if you call me in the middle of the night, I have to come.” Sounds like something AKA Jan would have said to me.
I thought of others – like AKA Adrienne and Delta Eulanda (Los Angeles) who tease, laugh, share private jokes, and hold each other up all the time or AKA Barbara and Delta LaVerne (Los Angeles/San Diego), who as regional leaders of both organizations have supported and cheered one another on during times of sunshine and rain. Then there is AKA Helen and Delta Paulette of Detroit, an AKA mom whose love and encouragement of her daughter resulted in raising a confident, and dynamic woman who became the 25th National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. There goes that AKA-DST sister-friendship, mother-daughter love, rearing its head again.
Finally there is AKA Morgan, of Epsilon Tau and Delta Lacey, of Gamma Alpha pictured in the above photograph; young, intelligent, women – students at Xavier University of Louisiana, who embody the ideals and virtues of Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta. Two young women, one photograph, reminding us that we may wear different symbols, pursue different paths and hold different umbrellas, we do so, hand-in-hand.