Delta Sigma Theta

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ΔΣΘ - Delta Sigma Theta
Intelligence is the Torch of Wisdom
Founded January 13, 1913 at Howard University
Fraternity type Service
Scope International
Headquarters 1707 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C., USA
Chapters 900+
Nickname Deltas, DST
Homepage Delta Sigma Theta Website

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, (ΔΣΘ) Incorporated is a non-profit Greek letter organization of college educated women committed to constructive development of its members and to public service with a primary focus on the Black community.

In 1912, a decision was made among the active membership of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (AKA) at Howard University. The President-Myra Davis Hemmings-appointed a commitee to take the organization in a new direction. The group wanted to use their collective strength to promote academic excellence and public service, and in 1913, the women voted to change the name, symbols, colors, motto and principals of the organization. Thus, Delta Sigma Theta was formed.<ref> The ΑΦΑ/ΔΣΘ Connection (URL accessed May 11, 2006). </ref> Alpha Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta was incorporated February 8 of 1913 and the first public service act the founders participated in was the Women's Suffrage March on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C., March 1913. The National Organization was Incorporated January 20, 1930.

Today, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is the largest African- American Greek-lettered organization in the world. The Grand Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority has a membership of over 250,000 predominantly African American, college-educated women. The sorority currently has 900-plus alumnae and collegiate chapters located in the United States, Tokyo, Okinawa, Germany; Bermuda, the Bahamas; Seoul, Saint Thomas and Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Jamaica.

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[edit] National

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority owns property located at 1703, 1705, 1707, and 1709 New Hampshire Avenue in the Dupont Circle area of Northwest Washington, D.C. This is the site of its national headquarters and the headquarters of the Delta Research and Education Foundation (DREF).

In March 2003, Delta Sigma Theta became a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) at the United Nations (UN). In a presentation by Hanifa Mezoui, Chief NGO Section, Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the UN (ECOSOC), Past National President Gwendolyn Boyd (who served as National President during this time) accepted the credentials on behalf of the sorority, before 150 members of the organization from across the country. Delta Sigma Theta was welcomed to the United Nations by Assistant Secretary General for External Affairs, Gillian Sorensen, who asked the sorority in her keynote address to, “use your NGO status to monitor the status of women and children in the world and bind together with other NGOs to insure that the UN honors its commitments.” Delta Sigma Theta was granted Special Consultative Status as an NGO to the Economic and Social Council of the UN as a result of its volunteer services and humanitarian efforts performed to address issues throughout the world.

The sorority is a member of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), an organization of nine international Greek-letter sororities and fraternities.

The sorority is a member of the NAACP.

[edit] Delta Programs

Since its founding in 1913 Delta Sigma Theta has clearly distinguished itself as a public service organization that boldly confronts the challenges of African Americans and, hence, all Americans. Over the years, a wide range of programs addressing education, health, international development, and strengthening of the African American family have evolved. In realizing its mission, Delta Sigma Theta provides an extensive array of public service initiatives through its Five-Point Program Thrust of Economic Development, Educational Development, International Awareness and Involvement, Physical and Mental Health, and Political Awareness and Involvement.

Program development and implementation in Delta is a cooperative function with committees, the national executive board, and headquarters staff involved. Those with direct leadership responsibilities for implementation include members of the Program Planning and Development Committee, Social Action Commission, Commission on Arts and Letters, Information and Communications Committee, Membership Services Committee and Regional Officers.

[edit] Delta's Five-Point Thrust

The major programs of the Sorority are based upon the organization's Five-Point Programmatic Thrust:

  1. Economic Development
  2. Educational Development
  3. International Awareness and Involvement
  4. Physical and Mental Health
  5. Political Awareness and Involvement


Financial Fortitude: Smart Women Finish Rich

National economic trends, such as unstable employment, the threat to Social Security as we know it, and the widening gap between wealth and poverty are the basis for the development of Financial Fortitude, the current Economic Development Program Initiative of Delta Sigma Theta. Financial Fortitude is a process that will help program participants to set and define goals, develop a plan to achieve them, and to put the plan into action. The process serves as a blueprint to address all aspects of personal finances.


Dr. Betty Shabazz Delta Academy

Catching the Dreams of Tomorrow, Preparing Young Women For the 21st Century The Delta Academy was created out of an urgent sense that bold action was needed to save our young females (ages 11-14) from the perils of academic failure, low self-esteem, and crippled futures. Delta Academy provides an opportunity for local Delta chapters to enrich and enhance the education that our young teens receive in public schools across the nation. Specifically, we augment their scholarship in math, science, and technology, their opportunities to provide service in the form of leadership through service learning, and their sisterhood, defined as the cultivation service learning, and their sisterhood, defined as the cultivation and maintenance of relationships. A primary goal of the program is to prepare young girls for full participation as leaders in the 21st Century.

Delta Academy has taken many forms. In some chapters, the Academies are after-school or Saturday programs; others are weekly or biweekly throughout the school year; and still other programs occur monthly. At a minimum, chapters plan and implement varied activities based upon the needs of the early adolescents in their areas. The activities implemented most often include computer training, self-esteem and etiquette workshops, field trips for science experiences and for college exposure, and special outings to cultural events, fancy dinners, museums, plays, and concerts.

Delta GEMS – Growing and Empowering Myself Successfully

A natural outgrowth and expansion for the continuation of the highly successful “Dr. Betty Shabaaz Delta Academy: Catching the Dreams of Tomorrow”, Delta Gems was created to “catch the dreams” of African American at-risk, adolescent girls aged 14-18. Delta GEMS provides the frame work to actualize those dreams through the performance of specific tasks that develop a “CAN DO” attitude. The goals for Delta GEMS are:

  • To instill the need to excel academically;
  • To provide tools that enable girls to sharpen and enhance their skills to achieve high levels of academic success;
  • To assist girls in proper goal setting and planning for their futures—high school and beyond; and
  • To create compassionate, caring, and community minded young women by actively involving them in service learning and community service opportunities.

The Delta GEMS framework is composed of five major components (Scholarship, Sisterhood, Show Me the Money, Service, and Infinitely Complete), forming a road map for college and career planning. Topics within the five major components are designed to provide interactive lessons and activities that provide opportunities for self-reflection and individual growth.


Mary Help of the Sick Mission Hospital (formerly Thika Memorial Hospital)

Nothing is more precious than the gift of life. And, there is nothing more miraculous than the birthing of a child—bringing new life into being. Prenatal care and safe birth deliveries are practices often taken for granted in America. Yet, adequate prenatal and maternity care is seldom experienced by women in our ancestral homeland of Africa.

Realizing this critical health issue, in 1955, Delta Sigma Theta began making plans and laying the groundwork to establish a maternity hospital in the east African country of Kenya. The plans for a facility came to fruition in the early 1960s when Delta made a major donation to help finance the construction of the Thika Maternity Hospital in Thika, Kenya, which is now named Mary Help of the Sick Missions Hospital. The first hospital to open after Kenya gained its independence, Mary Help of the Sick Mission Hospital continues to be operated by the missionary sisters of the Holy Rosary.

In 1985 members of the Sorority visited the hospital and saw first hand the increased population and infant mortality rate in and around Thika. Delta responded by donating over $20,000 in 1985 which was used to establish two additional maternity wards and an administrative office.

Mary Help of the Sick Mission Hospital has grown to 120 beds. It provides affordable prenatal and postnatal care, nutritional education, child immunization, and family planning. The hospital gives prenatal care, including lab work, blood tests, and examinations to more than 200 women daily. The facility also has a special care nursery for babies after delivery. The hospital also serves as an educational institution for nurses and midwives. Over 66 students are trained each year.

Summit VI: Health Issues Impacting Women of African Descent

Obesity; HIV/AIDS; and breast, cervical, and ovarian cancers are all health issues impacting women of African descent at disproportionate rates. In April 2006, Delta Sigma Theta commemorates twenty-five years of summits with an international awareness program, Summit VI: “Health Issues Impacting Women of African Descent,” to be held on the beautiful, stress-free island of Jamaica.

Summit VI will feature many of the foremost experts on health care to focus on health issues of mothers, daughters, and sisters of the diaspora. The conference will include various formats for disseminating information—workshops, panels, and town hall formats. Healthy lifestyle activities will also be a feature of the conference


Total Woman: Mind, Body, and Spirit

As an organization of predominantly African American women, Delta Sigma Theta is uniquely positioned to impact not only the well-being of its members, but also the well-being of families and communities at large. To facilitate this effort, the Health Task Force was launched to provide concentrated expertise and focus on the Physical and Mental Health aspect of our Five-Point Programmatic Thrust.

The mission of the Health Task Force is to educate and facilitate lifestyle change for the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of sorors and the communities that we serve. The Health Task Force objectives are to:

  • Raise awareness about the importance and benefits of lifestyle changes that affect longevity, morbidity, and mortality;
  • Identify organizational alliances for the sorority that will work to address pertinent health issues; and
  • Develop and implement health-focused programs within the sorority and the communities we serve.

Through the Lifestyle Change Initiative, Delta Sigma Theta will work to combat the high incidence of obesity among women. The first priority of our Lifestyle Change Initiative is the “Total Woman Healthy Weight Program” which challenges chapters to a commitment to achieve healthier weights.

Delta has embraced the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” campaign. Heart disease is women’s #1 killer—a fact that most women don’t know. The program raises awareness of the risks and causes of heart disease and focuses women on healthier life styles.


Delta Days in the Nations Capital

In 1989, the National Social Action Commission instituted Delta Days in the Nation’s Capital, an annual legislative conference to increase members’ involvement in the national public policy-making process. The annual conference includes legislative briefings, issue forums, and advocacy skills development. Featured speakers include key policy makers, members of the United States Congress, Congressional staff members, and national issues experts.

Delta Day at the United Nations

Special Consultative Status as an NGO allows the organization to provide analysis and expertise in monitoring and implementing international agreements on issues of mutual concern. As an NGO, Delta has the opportunity to gain access to and disseminate information concerning a range of issues on women and children in which the United Nations is involved. Delta representatives attend regular briefings and disseminate information on UN activities to its members and the community at large.

Delta Day at the United Nations, held annually, is tentatively scheduled for March 3, 2006.

Voting Rights

In March of 1913, nearly six weeks after its founding, several Delta Sigma Theta Founders marched in the historic Suffragist March under the Delta Sigma Theta Banner, the Sorority’s first public act. Today, low voter turnout statistics highlight the need to continue to identify ways to include opportunities for all citizens to exercise their voting power.

Under the auspices of the National Social Action Commission, Delta Sigma Theta continues to institute programs that advocate:

  • The re-authorization of the Voting Rights Act.
  • The repeal of voter disenfranchisement laws.
  • The full restoration of voting rights for individuals who have paid their debt to society.
  • The full implementation of the Help America Vote Act.

Delta Research and Educational Foundation (DREF)

Delta Sigma Theta established the Delta Research and Educational Foundation (DREF), as, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit foundation. DREF was designed to help strengthen and expand the charitable, educational, scientific programs of Delta Sigma Theta and other organizations with similar community service goals.

DREF provides:

  • BENEFITS for contributors to the national, regional and chapter activities of Delta Sigma Theta.
  • RESEARCH AND PROGRAM INITIATIVES through The Center For Research on African American Women serving as a comprehensive database and resource on the diverse lifestyles of African American women and the roles they have played in contributing to the building of the United States. The Center is designed to present extensive research on Black women that will be of significance for policy decision-making on both local and national levels.

Delta Sigma Theta and the Delta Research and Education Foundation (DREF), in partnership with the AAAS Directorate for Education and Human Resources Programs, are implementing a 5-year Science and Everyday Experiences (SEE) Initiative, an informal science education project funded by the National Science Foundation. The SEE Initiative will help parents and caregivers of African American elementary and middle school age children (K-8) develop effective ways to support children's informal science and mathematics learning experiences. Delta SEE Site

You may contribute to DREF using DREF's ID No. 1636 through United Way or the National Black United Federation of Chapters.

Contact Information:

Delta Research and Educational Foundation</br> Alta J. Cannaday, Director</br> 1703 New Hampshire Avenue, NW</br> Washington, DC 20009</br> Phone: 202-347-1337</br> Fax: 202-347-5091</br> Email:

[edit] Delta Founders

[citation needed]

  • Osceola Macarthy Adams -- A member of the Repertory Playhouse Associates of New York as a student and actress, Osceola Adams also taught dramatics at Bennett College in North Carolina and was the Directress of the Harlem School of the Arts.
  • Marquerite Young Alexander -- Born in Illinois, Marquerite Alexander was a constant supporter of Alpha Chapter’s activities and projects. She, along with Osceola Adams went on to co-found a chapter in Chicago, Illinois.
  • Winona Cargile Alexander -- A native of Columbus, Georgia, Winona Alexander pursued studies at New York University after which she become the first Black social worker with the New York City and New York County Charities. She later settled in Jacksonville, FL as a social worker with the Duval County Welfare Board.
  • Ethel Cuff Black -- As Richmond County, New York’s first Black teacher, Ethel Black discovered her second nature in the educational profession. She taught Social Studies for most of her career and served as a Professor at Delaware State College. She was also a Charter Member of the Queens (NY) Alumnae Chapter.
  • Bertha Pitts Campbell -- At the age of 92, Bertha Campbell led 10,000 Delta in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the Founders’ participation in the 1913 suffrage march. She was a Charter Member of the Christian Friends for Racial Equality and was the recipient of a YMCA Achievement Award.
  • Zephyr Chisom Carter -- Featured as one of two seniors in Crisis Magazine in 1913, Zephyr Carter soon after began her teaching career in San Antonio, TX. Further pursuits led her to California where she attended business college and began singing backgrounds for movies and television shows.
  • Edna Brown Coleman -- Considered to be the brightest girl in her class, Edna Coleman carried the titles of Class President and Valedictorian upon her graduation from Howard University. She married Frank Coleman, one of the founders of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
  • Jessie McGuire Dent -- A native of Texas, Jessi Dent was recognized for her many contributions to the Galveston community. Her role was instrumental in the integration of the Galveston Public School System. Her portrait is on display in the Texas Cultural Archives.
  • Frederica Chase Dodd -- Fedrerica Dodd helped established a YWCA for Black women in Dallas, Texas, and was Director of Emergency Relief Station for Blacks in her hometown. She was a Charter Member of the Dallas Alumnae Chapter.
  • Myra Davis Hemmings -- The first President of Alpha Chapter, Myra Hemmings become active in the NAACP and the National Council of Negro Women. She was also a charter member of the San Antonio (TX) Alumnae Chapter and was a co-chair of Delta’s Golden Anniversary Celebration. She was also once the president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated's Alpha Chapter at Howard.
  • Olive C. Jones -- Olive Jones was a native of Washington, D.C. and was a constant supporter of Alpha Chapter’s programs. She was also an accomplished pianist who taught school in Washington, D.C.
  • Jimmie Bugg Middleton -- Jimmie Middleton was the President and National Treasurer of the National Association of College Women. She also served as Dean of Girls at the Black High School in Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • Pauline Oberdorfer Minor -- A soprano soloist who also wrote hymns, Pauline Minor authored a book of hymns titled, “Get Off the Judgment Seat.” She also taught in Alabama, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
  • Naomi Sewell Richardson -- Naomi Richardson was the last surviving founder when she died in 1993 in Washingtonville, New York. After graduation, she taught in East St. Louis, Illinois; Princeton, New Jersey; and New York City. She was very active in community and civic affairs.
  • Mamie Reddy Rose -- As a student, Mamie Rose was award for her talent as a dramatic reader. She was married to the Rev. James E. Rose. She died on February 17, 1919.
  • Ethel Carr Watson -- Ethel Watson was a teacher with a career that spanned more than thirty years. Following her retirement, she began a second career as a dramatic performer.
  • Wertie Blackwell Weaver -- Wertie Weaver was an adamant support of Alpha Chapter’s activities. She went on to write a novel entitled The Valley of the Poor about racism and poverty in the South.
  • Madree Penn White -- Madriee White was the inspiration behind the emergence of Delta Sigma Theta, Incorporated. She developed the sorority’s constitution and by-laws and set the groundwork for creating other chapters. While in school, she was also the first woman editor of the campus paper, The Howard University Journal. She went on to become the founder and president of the Triangle Press Company in St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Edith Motte Young -- Having moved to Youngstown, Ohio, upon graduation from Howard, Edith Young began a teaching career at Claflin College in Orangeburg, South Carolina. She later received her Masters in Arts in Biblical Literature from Oberlin College in Ohio.

[edit] Alumnae

There are many notable Delta Women recognized as leaders in activism, athletics, business, education and scholarship, entertainment and media, government, and literary sectors at the local, national and international level.

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes


Delta Sigma Theta

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