On the campus of HBCU Howard University, the first Black Greek Letter Organization for African American college educated women was founded on January 15, 1908 and later incorporated on January 29, 1913. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. gave a special opportunity for these women to form a sisterhood that bonded them together through service and scholarship for many years to come. From what started as a small group of influencers in Washington, DC to the now over 280,000 members worldwide, Alpha Kappa Alpha Women have made our marks on lives, causes, and communities far and wide.
One such group of those women were initiated into the Theta Gamma Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. at the University of South Carolina in the spring of 1998. We have made it a point to celebrate our 10th and 20th year anniversary as a time to reconnect and reminisce. We returned to Columbia, SC for our 10th anniversary. This year we celebrated our 20th anniversary together in sunny San Diego, California. When asked about the weekend together, Soror Torrey Becote had this to say, “There were a few sorors I had not seen in FOREVER so I was a little apprehensive, but when I saw Tonique and Shana at baggage claim, it all went away. It was like time turned back 20 years. So cool – EVERYONE was exactly the same.” She chuckled, remembering the college days, “Aminah used to ‘invite’ me to dinner in college all the time. A typical menu would be rice, green beans and chicken. All I would do was show up right when dinner was about to be served and I had a plate! I was reminded of those meals when I felt a little snacky on Saturday in San Diego and Aminah started going over my options – ‘Torrey, what do you want to eat?’ I decided on a slice of reheated pizza complements of Aminah of course. I felt adopted once more.”
Twenty years later these sisters continue to embody what our founders held dearly, ‘a commitment to scholarship, leadership, civic engagement and public service, woven together by the bonds of lifelong sisterhood.’ There are 2 pharmacists, 2 attorneys, 1 nurse practitioner, 1 nurse and founder of a non-profit for sickle cell anemia), 1 Managing Partner in communications, 1 Human Resource Business Partner, 1 Senior Human Resources Business Partner, 1 Senior Vice President at MTV, 1 2004 Olympic Gold medalist and 2005 World Champion in track and field, an educator, a school principal, a Software Development Manager, and a Communications Specialist at a national labor union.
One sister summed up sisterhood like this, “Sisterhood means everything to us. We are sisters, a family, with a bond that can’t ever be broken. We continue to support, honor, encourage one another and to have each other’s backs. Sisterhood means having a group of women who provide an endless amount of encouragement, loyalty, love, and respect,” said Soror Tiffany Williams.
“Striving for excellence in education, becoming a Doctor of Pharmacy, dual licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina, serving for over 15 years as Pharmacy Manager and now Staff Pharmacist, having style of class and sophistication, and representing an Alpha Kappa Alpha woman, is really in tune with my sisterly circle and upbringing.”, Dr. LaShawn Cromwell says. “The love for AKA goes way back when I was a little girl playing with dolls. We all had our matching outfits, but the one doll with the colors of salmon/rosy pink (symbolizing femininity) and Ivy green (symbolizing resilience) was my absolute favorite”, Dr. Cromwell laughs.
“I always knew that Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. was the only way. It extends deep in my family line. My daughter is watching my every footstep and she can’t wait to expand the legacy. The responsibility of executing a platform for our legacy is crucial. My line sisters and I are always in contact with one another. Whether it’s meeting for brunch, lunch or dinner, contacting by the WhatsApp social-media, text, email, you name it, we are tapping into our creative sides and stepping out of our comfort zones to ensure that what our twenty trailblazing founders have worked so hard to find and establish is continued and that we are making a difference. Dr. Cromwell says, “There is Power in Pearls!”
These stunning photos by Cassema Photography in San Diego are just a glimpse of the connection that remains strong, “I can’t believe it’s been that long. Time passes but some things stay the same….sister bonds” said Soror Tiffany Williams “When we reflect on sisterhood and the bond we have shared over these 20 years a sense of comfort eases over us because we know it wasn’t by accident that we found one another” said Soror Aminah Fraser.
By Natasha Chisolm