Jimmy Carter was president of the United States when 22 trailblazing women from the Madison area first decided they wanted to make a difference in their community and got together to charter the Madison Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. on August 27, 1977. Forty years later, the Deltas will be honoring the vision of these women along with sisterhood and service to the community with a weekend full of events at the Sheraton Hotel.
“Those 22 women got together here in Madison and decided that this city needed some direction for African Americans to be influential in politics, economic development and in the educational system,” current Madison Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc President Terri Strong tells Madison365. “Twenty-two great minds came together and chartered a chapter of Delta Sigma Theta right here in Madison, Wisconsin. It was some of the real power hitters here in Madison, some that are still here in Madison, making changes and still fighting for civil rights and human rights.”
The Delta Sigma Theta Madison Alumnae Chapter will be celebrating its 40th anniversary this weekend with a bunch of different activities. Those charter members from way back in 1977 include Milele Chikasa Anana, Dolores Greene, Gloria Greene, Karlene Crawford, Trina D. Mansfield, Patricia Ann Edwards, Saundra Brown, Christine Harris, Yvonne A. Bowen, Flora Yvonne McDonald, Saundra T. Drumming, Sylvia Ann James, Patricia Ann Reed, Carolyn Stewart, Gerald L. Parrish, Ruthe Badger (deceased), Daryl Lynn Bradley, Carolyn Cliver, Barbara Yoye Hamilton, Kirbie Mack, Barbara Shade, Nancy E. Evans and Dianne T. Hopkins.
Delta Sigma Theta is a non-profit Greek-lettered sorority of college-educated women who perform public service and place emphasis on the African-American community throughout the United States. The Delta Sigma Theta Sorority was founded on January 13, 1913, by 22 collegiate women at Howard University who wanted to use their collective strength to promote academic excellence and to provide assistance to persons in need. Today, the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. has over 200,000 members and over 900 chapters worldwide.
The 40th-anniversary festivities here in Madison will kick off with the Ruby Red Fellowship and a Meet & Greet with the 24th national president – Dr. Cynthia M.A. Butler-McIntyre – an educator who currently serves as a director of human resources
for the Jefferson Parish Public School System in Harvey, Louisiana.
“It will be a great social gathering of Deltas who are here for the weekend from all over the country who haven’t seen each other in a long time,” says Strong, has been a Delta herself for 36 years, first pledging at UW-Milwaukee. “It’s a chance to bond and to catch up with each other and to hang out with our 24th president, Dr. Cynthia M.A. Butler-McIntyre. She will also be our keynote speaker for our program on Saturday.”
Butler-McIntyre’s distinguished service and outstanding achievements have been recognized by numerous professional, civic and religious organizations on the local, state and national levels. Some of her recognitions include: National Alliance of Black School Educators Lifetime Achievement Award in Education, Shiners Hall of Fame, Women of Substance Inductee (Bennett College), Langston University Presidential Award, Dillard University Distinguished Alumnus Award, MLK Outstanding Activist Honoree, YWCA Role Model and Louisiana Elementary Assistant Principal of the Year.
At the luncheon on Saturday, the Deltas will read proclamations from the state and Dane County and the City of Madison. “And, hopefully, from Sen. [Tammy] Baldwin and Congressman [Mark] Pocan’s office,” Strong says. “We’re really looking forward to hearing from our keynote speaker. I’m not sure what her message is going to be but I know she will talk about the mission of and doing the work of Delta Sigma Theta. I know she will be inspiring us to continue to do the work that we’ve done and look to do new and innovative programming.”
Following the luncheon, the Deltas will be doing a service project in conjunction with the East Madison Community Center (EMCC) where they will be putting together bags filled with supplies for children going back to school. “We’re really hoping to build a partnership with the EMCC for all of the good they have done in this community for 50-plus years,” Strong says.
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority uses its Five-Point Programmatic Thrust of economic development, educational development, international awareness and involvement, physical and mental health, and political awareness and involvement to create its national programs. The Madison Alumnae Chapter recently returned from the 53rd National Convention in Las Vegas where they were among 10,000 sorors from all over the world discussing some of those programs and initiatives.
“The National Convention was an amazing, amazing experience. I was the delegate for our chapter. It was very busy and it was a lot of fun. We were recognized in our service area,” Strong says.
At the National Convention, the Deltas were honored for 1st Place Educational Development (Small Chapter) for their African American Career and College Fair and Scholarship Program. They also won the 1st Place Hallmark Health Award for working to increase prevention and awareness about breast, cervical, skin and colorectal cancers along with winning 3rd Place for Political Awareness and Involvement.
Madison Alumnae Chapter was also recognized as One of the Top Three Alumnae Chapters for Strategic Partnerships with Project 13.
“We were recognized for international awareness and involvement,” Strong adds. “For over five years, we supported an international student through a program.
“At the National Convention, it was truly, truly amazing to see your chapter’s name up on the screen and to go up and get your award and be acknowledged and congratulated for the work that we do,” Strong added. “We are a small but a very mighty chapter and we have Deltas in our chapter who are really committed to doing the work in our community that needs to be done.”
That sisterhood of that recent Delta National Convention will also be on display in Madison this weekend as Deltas celebrate 40 years of working on different health initiatives, educational initiatives, economic development initiatives, art initiatives and more to make Madison a better community.
“I’m really looking forward to the sisterhood of this 40th-anniversary event. I’m looking forward to the bonding and getting inspired and rejuvenated,” Strong says. “All of that is important so we can continue to do the work that we do in this community. I’m really looking forward to this. I’m looking forward to seeing that energy that I know will be there on this weekend to continue to move forward, continue to do great programming, and continue to impact our service area the way we have been … and to do even more.”