AKA is 105 years strong
Posted January 16, 2013 at 10:10 pm in Lifestyle
For the women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (AKA), the 105th anniversary of their sisterhood is a time to reflect on the women before them and to take a moment to celebrate their friendship.
â€śTo be a part of an organization that has been around for so long means to be a part of a truly dynamic legacy that consists of remarkable women with genuine passion to create social change by having service to others as a top priority in their everyday lives,â€ť said Victoria Willingham, a senior with a double major in psychology and Spanish and current AKA President.
AKA, the first Greek-letter collegiate group to be founded by African-American women, began at Howard University on January 15, 1908. Such esteemed women as Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, Coretta Scott King and Alicia Keys are all honorary members of AKA. Today, there are 403 undergraduate and 556 graduate chapters, including at the University of Southern California, which has felt the presence of AKA since 1922 when a citywide chapter was opened. AKA was the first black sorority on the USC campus, and the current chapter, Iota Beta, was chartered in 1974.
â€śItâ€™s amazing to think that when AKA was first chartered at USC, there were so many black women receiving a higher education. Itâ€™s all really inspiring,â€ť said Jade Fleury, a senior majoring in communication who is the current treasurer of Iota Beta.
The women of this sorority are constantly inspired by the strength of the women who started their sisterhood. In 1908, very few Americans had college educations, and an even fewer percentage of them were African-American females. It was only 47 years after the American Civil War, and the nine founders felt they wanted to make sure their college career was as meaningful as possible.
â€śIt began during a time when women of color had few rights in America. Women of color werenâ€™t seen as worthy, attractive and intelligent individuals by the masses of people in this country, and our founders were committed to being examples and proof that women of color can do anything they put their mind to in this country,â€ť Fleury said.
One reason for the incredible strength of this legacy is the presence of graduated members. Unlike many other sororities at USC, Alpha Kappa Alpha is not restricted to undergraduate students, and many women remain active members for life.
Lita Mallett, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering, echoed this sentiment: â€śWhen you become a woman of Alpha Kappa Alpha, you are pledging to be of service to all mankind for a lifetime, which is why I plan to remain active in the sorority even after I graduate.â€ť
Service is an important aspect of membership to AKA and has been since its founding. One of their biggest annual events is a prom dress drive for local low-income teens, which led them to recently receive the â€śMost Meaningful Serviceâ€ť award from the National Pan-Hellenic Council, of which AKA is a member.
The five members of AKA at USC work to keep the efforts of their founders alive through service and scholarship.
â€śThey were teachers, scholars, activist and athletes, while still dedicating their lives to sisterhood, scholarship and service to all mankind. They are a constant reminder to me that I can and must achieve my goals, and that I must leave my positive mark on society. They inspire me to be the woman I can be and change the world,â€ť Fleury explained.
â€śThere is a such a string legacy of sisterhood scholarship and service that I am honored to be a part of. I still canâ€™t believe it till this day, and cry when I think about the lifelong sisterhood that I have entered,â€ť Mallett said.
To commemorate this yearâ€™s monumental Founderâ€™s Day, the Iota Beta members of AKA plan to spend a quiet evening relaxing and spending time together as sisters. Though they pride on service, scholarship and leadership, sisterhood is the core source of bonding for AKA members. In the end, it is why they are all together.
Willingham summarized her commitment to AKA as, â€śItâ€™s such a blessing to be a part of such a rich history and legacy. It keeps me on my toes, because I am surrounded by 105 years worth of extraordinary women. But on a more intimate level, being a partÂ of this chapter has given me the love and support I needed to get me through any obstacle. I love my sisters. I support them. We drive each other crazy sometimes, but AKA really is like a home away from home.â€ť