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Women’s History Month Spotlight: The Deltas Role in Women’s History, Community Service, Support for Single Parents

During Women’s History Month, lesser-known facts can be learned about women and preeminent organizations such as Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (Deltas). The not-for-profit organization, which was incorporated in 1930 has a longstanding history of supporting communities near and far. It dates to the sorority’s founding by African American undergraduate college women at Howard University in 1913. According to the organization’s national website, founders first initiated an act of public service by participating in the historic Woman Suffrage Procession during that same year.

The National Park Service noted (https://www.nps.gov/articles/woman-suffrage-procession1913.htm) that the procession was held to protest the exclusion of women from the democratic process. However, the NAACP’s newspaper, The Crisis, provided details about orders for Black women to be segregated in the march.

Despite some accounts that describe these suffragists marching in the back, The Crisis documented that “twenty-five students from Delta Sigma Theta sorority from Howard University marched in cap and gown with the university women, as did six graduates of universities, including Mary Church Terrell,” per the account. 

The National Park Service’s information also revealed that white suffrage leaders requested that Ida B. Wells-Barnett take an interior position at the march, instead of appearing alongside her fellow suffragists from Illinois, but she refused to comply. 

Instead, the brave woman stepped in front of her delegation. Wells-Barnett proceeded in the procession with two white supporters, after pausing until the Illinois group marched past them. These female, African American advocates for justice are now, known to be affiliated with the Deltas.

Information presented (https://www.deltasigmatheta.org/) on the Delta’s national website chronicles others accounts of social action, leadership, career development, and sorority service. The Deltas even started a “traveling library” which is otherwise known as the National Library Project. 

 In 1937, African Americans who resided in rural Southern areas gained access to books because of the investment in changing the lack of access to them.

Within this rich legacy, the Annapolis Alumnae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. continues to uphold the sorority’s mission of embracing sisterhood, supporting academic scholarship, and lending a hand to community members.

Nas I. Afi said that she has served as president of the Annapolis Alumnae Chapter for two consecutive, two-year terms since 2018. 

Through the pandemic, the chapter spearheaded numerous activities, in addition to awarding scholarships for high school students and single parents. Some include the distribution of masks and other protective equipment to senior citizens, a COVID-19 pandemic vaccination information forum with physician experts who also focused on mental health was held, hosted book discussions, and Google workshop sessions targeting African American women. These opportunities allowed participants to learn more about using Google platforms for business and personal needs.

Gambrills, Maryland, resident LaWanda Ammons, who attended four online sessions through a virtual platform utilized by the Deltas, explained that she benefited from discovering job search options offered by companies within Google.

“The information shared and presented during each of the webinars has expanded my knowledge of what’s available online,” Ammons said. “The Google resources are endless on how it can assist me in saving time, being more organized and creative.”

Supporting single parents in the community is another other focal point for Afi and other sorority sisters, after listening to them express a desire for a better life for themselves and their children.

“In hearing that many are looking for resources to propel and support them in raising children and elevating themselves and looking to build a brighter future, Annapolis Alumnae is looking for ways to help them reach their goals. We seek to help them be empowered by offering these opportunities for single parents to gain new knowledge and skills that enable them to shape a sustainable future,” Afi said. “The next Single Parent Workshop will focus on Budgeting Tips and Child Care Support Resources in Anne Arundel County. It is designed to help single parents get their finances in order and improve in managing income and expenses for their family. The workshop will also make them aware of various resources that are available to help them with their children.”

The virtual workshop takes place virtually on Saturday, March 12, 2022, from 12 noon to 2 p.m. It will offer seven money tips for single mothers. Registration is required in advance.  Register for the workshop via https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0lcOuqrz4vE92qkGayxKTTy6IHl1Y4PZbu.

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