AKA notes 105 years of global leadership through timeless service

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., was founded Jan. 15, 1908, on the campus of Howard University as the vision of nine college students. On Jan. 29, 1913, it was incorporated as a perpetual body with “power to organize, institute and charter subordinate chapters” whose particular purposes and objectives would be educational, and “would promote the intellectual standard and mutual uplift of its members.”

As the first black Greek letter sorority in American history, the organization currently consists of thousands of college-trained women who are charged to make a positive difference in the lives of its constituents. It is one of the most solvent corporations in the world today.

As Alpha Kappa Alpha has grown, it has kept in balance two very important themes: the importance of the individual, and the strength of an organization of women of courage and ability. As the world becomes more complex, the sorority has led the way in understanding the need for associations which cut across racial, geographical, political, physical, and social barriers.

The sorority’s program initiatives are consistently focused on significant issues which affect society and heightened needs of youth. Health and global poverty initiatives also focus on programs addressing the universal problems concerning women and girls. Alpha Kappa Alpha’s storied history of proven leadership and extensive involvement in the world community through strategic partnerships evidences its unlimited potential to significantly contribute to the world community.

Delta Omega Omega, the graduate chapter in Pine Bluff, was chartered on Dec. 11, 1948, and Alpha Rho, the undergraduate chapter, was chartered on the campus of Arkansas, Mechanical, and Normal College, now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, on May 19, 1951. Both chapters are charged with carrying out the program initiatives of the sorority. Through the years, the chapters have worked with and donated to such organizations as, the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, Jefferson County Boys and Girls Club, the Ivy Center for Education, and CASA. They serve as mentors to youth in local school districts and participate in political forums, voter registration drives, social justice forums, and the MLK Marade.

Additionally, they sponsor AKAdemic Excellence Scholarships to area high school and UAPB students, Global Poverty Forums, fundraisers for Hurricane Sandy Relief, meals for families at Thanksgiving, and toys for children at Christmas.

In 1972, Alpha Kappa Alpha purchased the birth home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and, in turn, donated it to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolence Social Change, of which his widow, Coretta Scott King, served as president. The donation was made as a memorial to King and as a show of respect for Mrs. King, who was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

The current international president is Attorney Carolyn House Stewart, whose term will end in 2014. She is the first president to serve a full term in the sorority’s second century and also makes history as being the first attorney to head the organization. Her administration is driven by the theme, “Global Leadership through Timeless Service” and is devoted to continuing Alpha Kappa Alpha’s legacy of providing “Service to All Mankind.”

Leadership development within the membership is essential to the vitality of the organization. The record of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s origin, growth and development, activities, accomplishments, and evolving goals is more than an interesting chronicle of a colorful bit of college-based Americana. It is, rather, a significant and inspiring reflection of the emergence of a dynamic group of highly intelligent women into a challenging world. The vision of the founder, Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, became a reality, and she and the other eight young women defined the sorority’s motto as “by culture and by merit,” the official colors as salmon pink and apple green, and the symbol as the ivy leaf.

For more information, contact Mattie P. Collins, Ivy Leaf reporter, at kencol1@msn.com or 870-536-5417.