It was a long and exciting weekend of celebrating the founders of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. as the six Wisconsin chapters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., known as the Women of Wisconsin, came together to host the Statewide Founders Day Celebration at the Radisson Hotel on Madison’s west side.
The theme of the weekend-long celebration was “Inspiring Our Sisters, Invigorating Our Community, Illuminating Our Souls.”
“This is a huge event for me as it was my first statewide founder’s day,” says Carola Gaines, Wisconsin State Coordinator and immediate past president of the Madison Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta. “It was exciting to see people from all around the state.”
As the Wisconsin State Coordinator for the Deltas, Gaines is part of the regional team that makes sure that Wisconsin and its six chapters are all part of the Delta’s national-level programming. “The event this weekend was an opportunity for us all to come together in sisterhood but it was also a chance to announce that we will be chartering a new alumnae chapter in the northeast region of our state encompassing Appleton, Oshkosh, and Green Bay areas,” Gaines tells Madison365.
The founders — 22 collegiate women at Howard University in 1913 — used their collective strength to promote academic excellence, provide support to the underserved, to highlight issues and to provide solutions for problems in their communities.
On Saturday, over 200 people attended the talk of luncheon keynote speaker Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, the first female elected to the African Methodist Episcopal(AME) Church and the Delta Sigma Theta’s National Chaplain. “It was amazing to have the first female of AME Church speaking but also the granddaughter of one of the sorority’s 22 founders, Vashti Turley Murphy,” Gaines says. “It was just an honor to have her there in our midst. It was phenomenal.
“Her speech was very powerful and moving and she talked about what we need to be doing in our communities to move forward to serve our people,” Gaines adds. “Now is the time that we have to be taking a stand to make sure that we are voting and we are fighting for equity. We also need to be sure that we are taking time out for ourselves because as women in Deltas, we oftentimes just go, go, go. We have to make sure that we are taking care of ourselves. There’s so much work to do in the community so we have to make sure we have all hands on deck, but they must be good, healthy hands.”
Regional Director Dr. Mona Davenport was also in town for the festivities and she hosted an event titled “An Hour for Your Health,” which was a community health education event designed to increase cancer awareness. “One of her health initiatives is focused on cancer and she was able to talk during our public community forum,” Gaines says.
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was founded in 1913 on the campus of Howard University to promote academic excellence; to provide scholarships; to provide support to the underserved; educate and stimulate participation in the establishment of positive public policy; and to highlight issues and provide solutions for problems in their communities. Today Delta Sigma Theta Sorority has over 250,000 initiated members and more than 900 chapters worldwide, including six in Wisconsin. The 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 and local programs.
The Statewide Founder’s Day Weekend was co-chaired by Terri Strong, president of the Madison almunae chapter of the Deltas and Anita Sparks of the Milwaukee chapter. The event also featured a VIP reception with community leaders, an unveiling of the Richard Allen stamp by the U.S. Post Office, and a Crimson Chill Party hosted by the Deltas. The weekend culminated with an ecumenical worship service on Sunday where the community heard from Anique Ruiz, a member of Delta Sigma Theta’s Milwaukee Alumnae Chapter and founder of The Journey for Women, Inc.
“Our souls were definitely invigorated by this amazing weekend,” Gaines says. “We were illuminated and we are ready to work and serve our communities throughout our state.”