Washington D.C. will be awash in hues of crimson and cream as thousands of Delta Sigma Theta sorority members descend on the nation’s capital to celebrate the sorority’s centennial year at its 51st National Convention. The biennial conference will convene under the sorority’s theme of the past two years, “Delta Sigma Theta- A Sisterhood Called to Serve: Transforming Lives, Impacting Communities.”
“With all of the Deltas in Madison, including our undergrads, we have about 60-70 ladies that will be going to Washington D.C.,” says Carola Gaines, president of the Madison Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. “They say that there will be 80,000 Deltas in the city this weekend.”
The sorors, who represent over 900 chapters in the United States, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Germany, Jamaica, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, will participate in celebratory events such as Deltas on the National Mall, welcome receptions, galas, and Gospel concerts.
From July 11-17, members of the Madison Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., will address issues related to the socioeconomic conditions impacting communities across the globe, especially the African diaspora. The organization will continue its legacy of promoting political awareness and involvement through voter education, advocacy for health care reform and equal educational opportunities. Delegates will also address physical and mental health challenges that continue to plague children and adults worldwide.
“If you can imagine, having that many Deltas there from all walks of life and professions, it's just a great opportunity for us in regards of professional development and educational development,” Gaines says. “It's just amazing to connect with all of these people who have tremendous experiences because with the Deltas we have all of that. But not only in your professional life, but also in your personal life and even in our own spiritual walk. Several of our national past and present presidents are preachers and there will be hundreds of ordained clergy that will be there. It is a fantastic networking opportunity.”
The lighting of an Olympic-style torch at Howard University on July 11 will launch the 51st National Convention of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. There will also be Street Naming Ceremony (Delta Way), a Stain Glass Unveiling, and a Fortitude Unveiling at Howard University.
On Friday, July 12, there will be a 3K Delta Run/Walk in the morning and then all of the Deltas will gather for a Public Meeting on the Mall and for the Doug E. Fresh Lincoln Memorial Torch Ceremony. “They want to fill that whole mall area from the Lincoln Memorial all the way as far as they can like they did at the Million Man March,” Gaines says. “There will be a lot of activities on the Mall and then we will have a step show to close out the day.”
Saturday night will be the Delta's Signature Gala at the Verizon Center.
Over 80,000 Deltas will take part in several commemorative festivities and conduct official business under their Five Point Programmatic Thrust which include: Economic and Educational Development, International Awareness and Involvement, Physical and Mental Health and Political Awareness and Involvement. There will be events such as the Social Action Luncheon, Literary Café, Signature Gala, Gospel Fest, Collegiate Luncheon and Greek Step Show which will all take place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
“Even for me as a president of the chapter, to sit with other presidents and hear how they do programming and finding out about some of the things that they do, it's an excellent way for me to bring back ideas for programming for our chapter and things that we can do in our community here in Madison,” Gaines says.
It's also a chance for Gaines to show off what the Deltas do here in Madison. “We are definitely committed to being out in our community and to serving our community. We are a movement. In order to be a part of a movement, we have to be a part of a change agent and be a part of working in your community to make things better for the people that you serve,” Gaines says. “We are definitely focused on the African American community here, but our community is so diverse that when we have our programming, everybody is invited. We want to make our whole city knowledgeable about what's going on around them.”
At the celebration, there will also be plenary sessions, sisterhood luncheons, and ecumenical worships. The week will close with regional banquets and the installation of new officers. “We're there to take care of business, but we're also there to install new officers including the national president,” Gaines says. “The new national president will be elected that week.”
On Jan. 13, 1913, 22 women at Howard University founded the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority during a time of great tribulation for African Americans: the gains of Reconstruction had been whittled away, sapping away Blacks’ political and economic strength; Jim Crow had begun to cast its dark shadow across the nation; Black men and women were being lynched by the dozens and Black women were still not allowed to vote. Those 22 founders responded by promoting academic excellence as a way out of debilitating ignorance and poverty, meeting the needs of the underprivileged and joining the Women's Suffrage March in Washington, D.C., in March 1913 among other actions.
The Madison Alumnae Chapter was chartered in 1977 and since then has been devoted to public service and developing and implementing programs that transform lives and impact the community.
“Because I am the president of the Delta chapter, my major goal is to go and take care of business on the behalf of Delta Sigma Theta Incorporated,” Gaines says. “There will be several activities and festivities and celebration going on, so if I can also get a little fun in there — great. But I'm really looking forward to it. It's going to be an amazing time. I know we're going to have a great time and it will be a great learning experience.
For more information on the Convention, please visit www.deltasigmatheta.org and www.madisonalumnaedst.org