Alpha Kappa Alpha

Alpha Kappa Alpha

Infobox Fraternity
letters = ΆΚΆ
name = Alpha Kappa Alpha
motto = "By Culture and By Merit"
crest =
founded = January 15, 1908 (aged 100)
title ix status=Social
scope = International
The Bahamas
United States Virgin Islands
South Korea

address = 5656 S. Stony Island Ave
type= Social
symbol =
city = Chicago
state = Illinois
country = USA
zip code = 60637
chapters = 975 [cite news |first= |last= |coauthors= |title=Alpha Kappa Alpha's International President reflects on the sorority's 100 years successfully serving mankind |date=2008-01-03 |publisher=BlackPressUSA Network |url= |work=Black Professional Events |pages= |accessdate=2008-01-21 |language=] | colors =Salmon Pink and
Apple Green
free_label = Nickname
free = ΆKΆ
homepage = []
birthplace = Howard University
flower = Pink Tea Rose
mascot = none
publication = "Ivy Leaf" magazine
symbol = Ivy Leaf
portalpar|African American|AmericaAfrica.png

Alpha Kappa Alpha (ΆΚΆ) is the first Greek-lettered sorority established and incorporated by African American college women. The sorority was founded on January 15, 1908, at Howard University in Washington, D.C. by a group of nine students, led by Ethel Hedgeman Lyle. Forming a sorority broke barriers for African-American women in areas where little power or authority existed due to a lack of opportunities for minorities and women in the early twentieth century. [Tamara L. Brown, Gregory Parks, Clarenda M. Phillips, "African American Fraternities and Sororities: The Legacy and the Vision". Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2005. p. 342] Alpha Kappa Alpha was incorporated on January 29, 1913.

Consisting of college-educated women of African, Caucasian, Asian, and Hispanic descent, the sorority serves through a membership of more than 200,000 women in over 975 chapters in the United States and several other countries. Women may join through undergraduate chapters at a college or university, or through a graduate chapter after acquiring a college degree.cite web |year=2006 |url= |title=Historical Overview|publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. - International Region|accessdate=2007-05-09]

Since being founded over a century ago, Alpha Kappa Alpha has helped to improve social and economic conditions through community service programs. Members have improved education through independent initiatives, contributed to community-building by creating programs and associationsndash such as the Mississippi Health Clinicndash and influenced federal legislation by Congressional lobbying through the National Non-Partisan Lobby on Civil and Democratic Rights. The sorority works with communities through service initiatives and progressive programs relating to education, family, health, and business.

Alpha Kappa Alpha is part of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC). The current International President is Barbara A. McKinzie, and the sorority's document and pictorial archives are located at Moorland-Spingarn Research Center.


Beginnings: 1907–1912

In Spring 1907, Ethel Hedgeman led the efforts to create a sisterhood at Howard University. A Howard faculty member, Ethel Robinson, encouraged Hedgeman by relating her own recollections of sorority life at the Women's College at Brown University.Ross, Jr., "The Divine Nine", p. 166.] cite book
title=In Search of Sisterhood: Delta Sigma Theta and the Challenge of the Black Sorority Movement
publisher=HarperCollins Publishers
location=New York, New York
] Hedgeman was also inspired by her future husband George Lyle, who was a charter member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity's Beta chapter at Howard in 1907.cite web |last=Mason |first=Herman "Skip" |date=1999-04-16 |url= |title=The ties that bind | |accessdate=2006-05-09] To implement her idea, Hedgeman began recruiting interested classmates during the summer of 1907.McNealey, E., "Pearls of Service", p. 19.]

Eventually, nine women including Hedgeman were involved in the instrumental phases of organizing Alpha Kappa Alpha in Fall 1907. With Hedgeman serving as the temporary chairperson, the women wrote the sorority's constitution, devised the motto and colors, and named the sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. Later in 1908, seven sophomore honor students expressed interest and were accepted without initiation.Parker, M., "Past is Prologue", p. 12.] The first initiation was held in a wing of Miner Hall on Howard University on February 11, 1909.cite web |date=2005-04-21 |url= |title=History of AKA |publisher=Lambda Eta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated|accessdate=2007-05-30] cite web |url= |format=PDF |title=Alpha Kappa Alpha Timeline |publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated|accessdate=2007-05-09] On May 25, 1909, Alpha Kappa Alpha held the first "Ivy Day", a celebration which included planting ivy at Miner Hall.cite web |url= |title=Ethel Jones Mowbray|publisher=Theta Rho Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated|accessdate=2007-10-27]

Cession and formation of Delta Sigma Theta: 1912–1913

At the time, Alpha Kappa Alpha existed as one chapter at Howard University with a ritual and sponsored social events. No plan of nationalizing or incorporating the organization existed.cite web |url= |title=Nellie Quander, Page Two |publisher=The Quander Quality|accessdate=2007-11-29] Alpha Kappa Alpha continued to grow at Howard. In October 11, 1912, twenty-two members were initiated into Alpha Kappa Alpha. Seven officers were elected: Myra Hemmings, president; Ethel Black, vice-president, Edith Young, secretary; Jessie Dent, corresponding secretary, Winona Alexander, custodian; Frederica Dodd, sergeant-at-arms, and Pauline Minor was the treasurer. [Parker, M., "In the Eye of the Beholder", p. 30.] [Giddings, P., "In Search of Sisterhood", p. 48.] The twenty-two were dismayed at progress and wanted to reorganize the sorority.cite web |last=Mason |first=Herman "Skip" |date=1999-04-20 |url= |title=The ΑΦΑ/ΔΣΘ Connection | |accessdate=2006-04-14] Giddings, P., "In Search of Sisterhood", p. 49.]

According to Delta Sigma Theta historian Paula Giddings, the group of members wanted to establish a national organization, enlarge the scope of activities of the sorority, change its name and symbols, and be more politically oriented. When Nellie Quander, a graduate member, heard about changing the sorority name, she disagreed and gave the other women a deadline to stop the efforts to reorganize the sorority. [Giddings, P., "In Search of Sisterhood", p. 50–51.] However, the twenty-two declined and instead formed Delta Sigma Theta on January 13, 1913. [Giddings, P., "In Search of Sisterhood", p. 53.]

Later Quander, along with five other sorority members, led an initiative to incorporate Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority as a perpetual body on January 29, 1913. The organization was nationally incorporated in Washington, D.C., as a non-profit under the name Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated on January 30, 1913.cite web |url= |title=District of Columbia Organization Information | |accessdate=2007-10-09] During the same year the sorority began using Greek names for officers. [McNealey, E., "Pearls of Service", p. 331.]

Expansion and initial implementation of programs: 1913–1940

Alpha Kappa Alpha continued to grow nationally. A second chapter at the University of Chicago was chartered in fall 1913. [ [ Beta Chapter History] . Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Retrieved January 1, 2008.] The sorority played an active role in voicing concerns of the day. The women marched in the 1913 Women's Suffrage March. [ [ Alpha Kappa Alpha Ushers Centennial Year] . Alpha Kappa Alpha Far Western Region. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. January 8, 2008. Retrieved January 21, 2008.] In addition, Alpha Kappa Alpha helped to support members by providing scholarship funds for school and foreign studies. [Jones-Wilson, Faustine Childress. "Encyclopedia of African-American Education". Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996. p. 196. ISBN 031328931X.] Alpha Kappa Alpha began to unite members at the annual Boulé, the sorority's governing body. The sorority's pledge was written by Grace Edwards and was adopted by the 1920 Boulé. In addition, the sorority's crest was designed by Phyllis Wheatley Waters and accepted in the same Boulé. A year later, at the 1921 Boulé, the "Ivy Leaf" was designated as "the official organ of Alpha Kappa Alpha," and Founders' Week, paying honor to ΆKΆ's founders was established. Pearls were first introduced to the sorority in the same year.McNealey, E., "Pearls of Service", p. 329.] The sorority membership pin was accepted in the following Boulé in Kansas City, Missouri.cite web |url=|title=Regional Tributes: Midwestern Region |publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated |accessdate=2006-10-27] At the 1947 Boulé, pins for honorary members were designed and approved.McNealey, E., "Pearls of Service", p. 327.]

On May 10, 1930, Alpha Kappa Alpha, along with the fraternities Kappa Alpha Psi and Omega Psi Phi and sororities Delta Sigma Theta and Zeta Phi Beta, formed the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) at Howard University.cite web |url= |title=National Pan-Hellenic Council: About |publisher=NPHC |accessdate=2006-08-15] Consisting of nine predominately black fraternities and sororities, NPHC promotes interaction through forums, meetings, and other mediums for the exchange of information, and engages in cooperative programming and initiatives through various activities and functions.cite web |url= |title=National Pan-Hellenic Council Aboutpage |publisher=NPHC |accessdate=2006-08-15] Throughout the Great Migration, members assisted the Travelers Aid Society, to help thousands of Southern Blacks adjust to Northern society, find housing and navigate around the city. They also volunteered at the Freedman's Hospital.Ross, Jr., "The Divine Nine", p. 167.]

In April 1933, during the Great Depression, International President Ida Jackson visited All Saints Industrial School in Lexington, Mississippi. She found difficult conditions in the Mississippi Delta. Some of the teachers themselves did not have an education past the seventh grade. African Americans were trying to make a living sharecropping on plantation land as agricultural prices continued to fall.cite web
first=Susan, L.
title=Arenia Mallory
publisher=The University of Mississippi
month=June | year=2003
] McNealey E., "Pearls of Service", p. 150.] In summer 1934, Ida Jackson initiated the Summer School for Rural Teachers to train future teachers. She worked with a total of 22 student teachers and 243 school children. In addition, she held night classes for 48 adults.McNealey, E., "Pearls of Service", p. 151.] By obtaining 2600 books for the school's library, Jackson made it "the largest library owned by white or colored in all Holmes County."

In summer 1935, Ida Jackson focused on poverty and established a regional health clinic. She had acquired $1,000 from the Boulé to fund the project in December 1934. The clinic evolved into the Mississippi Health Project, with Dr. Dorothy Boulding Ferebee appointed as the director.McNealey, E., "Pearls of Service", p. 181.]

The Mississippi Health Project brought primary medical care to the rural Black population across the state for six summers.cite web |first=National Institutes of Health|date=2007-02-19|url=
title=Changing the Face of Medicine: Dr. Dorothy Celeste Boulding Ferebee|publisher=National Institutes of Health|accessdate=2007-09-28
] The program has been recognized as the first mobile health clinic in the United States, assisting around 15,000 people in the Mississippi Delta. The project was noted for helping to decrease cases diphtheria and smallpox in the region and to improve nutritional and dental practices throughout rural Mississippi.cite book
first=Ellen S.
title=Restoring the Balance: Women Physicians and the Profession of Medicine, 1850–1995
publisher=Harvard University Press
] cite web
title=AKA seeking charter for new millennium
publisher=Albion College's "The Pleiad"
date=December 3, 1999

Led by incorporator Norma Elizabeth Boyd, the sorority created the National Non-Partisan Lobby on Civil and Democratic Rights (NPC) in 1938, later renamed the National Non-Partisan Council on Public Affairs. It was the first full-time congressional lobby for minority group civil rights.cite book
title=Sisters in the Struggle : African-American Women in the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement
publisher=NYU Press
] Throughout the organization's life, the Non-Partisan Council worked with the NAACP, National Urban League, The United Office and Professional Workers of America, The National Association of Graduate Nurses, the American Federation of Churches, the Colored Women's Club, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Auxiliary, and the New York Voter's League.Parker, M., "Past is Prologue", p. 195.] The NPC was dissolved on July 15, 1948, by twelfth Supreme Basileus Edna Over Gray-Campbell.McNealey, E., "Pearls of Service", p. 157.] A year later, Alpha Kappa Alpha was the first sorority to apply for life membership in the NAACP. [McNealey, E., "Pearls of Service", p. 125.]

To replace the NPC, in August 1945, Alpha Kappa Alpha established the American Council on Human Rights (ACHR). The council made recommendations to the government concerning civil rights legislation.McNealey, E., "Pearls of Service", p. 158.] The ACHR was proposed at the 1946 Boulé. In October 1946, Alpha Kappa Alpha was the first sorority to obtain observer status at the United Nations. [McNealey, E., "Pearls of Service", p. 126.] On January 15, 1948, Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta, Sigma Gamma Rho sororities and Alpha Phi Alpha and Phi Beta Sigma fraternities were charter members of the ACHR.McNealey, E., "Pearls of Service", p. 159.] Kappa Alpha Psi later was included in March 1949.McNealey, E., "Pearls of Service", p. 160.] Parker, M., "In the Eye of the Beholder", p. 101.]

On September 1, 1945, Alpha Kappa Alpha established The National Health Office in New York City.Parker, M., "In the Eye of the Beholder", p. 87.] The National Health Office coordinated activities with local chapters and worked with the ACHC to promote health initiatives before Congress, increase the number of student nurses, and improve the state of health programs at historically Black Colleges and Universities.Parker, M., "In the Eye of the Beholder", p. 88.] The National Health Office was dissolved in 1951, as its goals were incorporated into the sorority's international program.Parker, M., "In the Eye of the Beholder", p. 89.]

Civil rights and educational training: 1950–1970

Throughout the fifties, sixties, and seventies, members helped to sponsor job training, reading enrichment, heritage, and youth programs. By encouraging youth to improve math, science, and reading skills, the sorority continued a legacy of community service and pledged to enrich the lives of others. Financially, Alpha Kappa Alpha expanded funding for projects in 1953 through the creation and trademark of a fashion show called FashionettaTM.cite web |url=|title=Delta Beta Omega Chapter's Programs|publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha's Delta Beta Omega Chapter|accessdate=2007-10-24] Politically, ACHR continued lobbying for equality concerning civil rights during the 1950s and 1960s. According to Collier-Thomas, the ACHR drew attention to legislation concerning education, transportation, employment, and improving equality in the armed forces and public places. [Collier-Thomas, Bettye; Vincent P. Franklin (2001). Sisters in the Struggle: African-American Women in the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement. New York City: NYU Press. p. 32.] The ACHR participated in filing civil rights cases in amicus curiae with "Bolling v. Sharpe" and 1954's "Brown v. Board of Education". [ "Ivy Leaf": 1921–1998 Microfiche Guide] p. 15 (xv) Published by the United Publications of America, 2000.] However, as a whole, ACHR voted to dissolve operations in 1963.

Alpha Kappa Alpha contributed programs for inner city youth by capitalizing on political gains in the White House. On August 20, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act, which allowed the creation of the Job Corps.McNealey, E., "Pearls of Service", p. 132.] The sorority wanted to operate a job training center for students. Led by president Julia Purnell, ΆKΆ negotiated with the Office of Economic Opportunity to operate a women's center from October 1964 to January 1965. Alpha Kappa Alpha was awarded a US$ 4 million grant to operate the Cleveland Job Corps on February 12, 1965, becoming the first sorority to operate a federal job training center. |accessdate=2007-10-20]

The sorority educated the community through highlighting the accomplishments of notable individuals by publishing "The Heritage Series" between 1968 to 1972. These pamphlets were a series of biographies of top African-American women. Altogether, the entire collection contained "Women in the Judiciary", "Women in Politics", "Women in Medicine", "Women in Business", and "Women in Dentistry".cite web |url=|title=Chapter History|publisher=Epsilon Mu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated|accessdate=2007-10-18] Alpha Kappa Alpha also donated $20,000 for preserving Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birth place in Atlanta, Georgia, in the early 1970s. [Parker, M., "In the Eye of the Beholder", p. 107.] In 1978, during the sorority's seventieth anniversary, the Memorial Window at Howard University was dedicated to the founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha. Surviving founders Lavinia Norman and Norma Boyd attended the celebration of unveiling the Memorial Window, designed by Lois Mailou Jones.McNealey, E., "Pearls of Service", p. 330.]

Bridging Towards the Twenty-first Century: 1980–2007

in 1992. The banner is shown at the sorority's national headquarters in Chicago. [McNealey, E., "Pearls of Service", p. 310.] [cite web
first=Mae C.
authorlink=Mae C. Jemison
coauthors=Patricia R. Olsen
title=Executive Life: The Boss; 'What was Space Like?'
publisher="New York Times"
] ] Soon after the sorority's 75th anniversary, Alpha Kappa Alpha contributed funds to decrease Africa's poverty with the establishment of African Village Development Program (AVDP).McNealey, E., "Pearls of Service", p. 185.] As a conjoint program with Africare, the sorority sought to decrease poverty in African villages. In collaboration with the International Foundation for Education and Self-Help (IFESH), the sorority built ten schools in South Africa after apartheid ended, and it donated computer technology to the region.McNealey, E., "Pearls of Service", p. 186.]

Throughout the 1990s, the sorority continued to provide after-school mentoring programs, such as ON TRACK. ON TRACK, an acronym which stands for "Organizing, Nurturing, Team building, Respecting, Achieving, Counseling and Knowing," was designed to help the progress of 20,000 third graders who were at-risk of failing their education. Sponsored by Daimler Chrysler, ON TRACK was designated to "improve communication, academics, physical and emotional health, peer leadership, etiquette, and interpersonal relationships."McNealey, E., "Pearls of Service", p. 153.] In addition, programs such as the Ivy Reading AKAdemy and Young Authors Program improved elementary reading comprehension skills, while P.I.M.S. highlighted programs in math and science.

addressing participants at the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated's 98th National Founders Day in 2006. Then Alpha Kappa Alpha Executive Director Barbara McKinzie sits to the right.cite web |date=2006-01-15|url=|title=On the Road to Better Health in Mississippi|publisher=accessdate=2007-10-20] In 1999, the sorority adopted a strict anti-hazing policy which is against "underground hazing, financial hazing, pre-pledging, post-pledging and post-initiation pledging."cite web |year=2006 |url=|title=Risk Management|publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.|accessdate=2007-07-14] On September 9, 2002, 22 year-old Kristin High and 24 year-old Kenitha Saafir drowned at Dockweiler State Beach at the Pacific Ocean on a night of high surf. The Los Angeles Police Department determined that the deaths were accidental.cite web |date=2002-10-14 |url=|title=$100M Lawsuit Names AKA Sorority in Woman's Death|publisher="The Louisiana Weekly"|accessdate=2007-07-14] The families of the young women said the two California State University students were interested in joining Alpha Kappa Alpha and had been involved in activities. However, the chapter at Cal State-Los Angeles had been suspended by the national sorority since 2000 due to "minor pledging infractions." [cite web |date=2002-10-14 |url=|title=Family of woman drowned in alleged L.A. hazing files $100 mil. suit against AKA sorority - National Report|publisher="Jet"|accessdate=2007-12-30]

Kristin High's family filed a US$100 million wrongful death lawsuit against Alpha Kappa Alpha on September 23, 2002 in Los Angeles District Court.cite web |date=2002-10-08 |url=|title=Family sues sorority over death of AKA pledge|publisher="Final Call Newspaper"|accessdate=2007-07-14] The suit claimed that the two women lost sleep while performing tasks for the members of an underground chapter of the sorority, carried out physical exercises on the beach, and were wearing jogging clothes and tennis shoes in the water, hindering their ability to remain afloat.cite web |date=2002-09-24|url=|title=Sorority accused of hazing in $100 million suit|publisher=CNN|accessdate=2007-07-15] According to the lawsuit, the two women were "blindfolded and tied by their hands and their bodies and led into the rip tide conditions of the ocean." The family and Alpha Kappa Alpha settled out of court.

Quote_box|width=38%|align=right|quote=The purpose of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is to cultivate and encourage high scholastic and ethical standards, to promote unity and friendship among college women, to study and help alleviate problems concerning girls and women in order to improve their social stature, to maintain a progressive interest in college life, and to be of service to all mankind.
source=Sorority Creedcite web |first=Alpha Kappa Alpha - Iota Gamma Chapter|date=2000-11-22|url=|title=History|publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha - Iota Gamma Chapter|accessdate=2007-05-15] |
The sorority responded to the call for help in fall 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, by raising money for a disaster relief fund. In July 2007, through Habitat for Humanity, the sorority helped build a house in New Orleans for a family that survived Hurricane Katrina.cite web |date=2007-07-18|url=|title=New Orleanian Credits Alpha Kappa Alpha's Kindness for New Hope and New Home|publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated|format=PDF|accessdate=2007-07-18] The sorority continues to assist the community by initiating service-related projects.

In addition to educational programs, Alpha Kappa Alpha contributed to drawing awareness to health-related issues, such as AIDS, sickle cell anemia, breast cancer, and the importance of staying in shape.cite web |url= |title=International President Supports Weight-Loss Initiative | |accessdate=2007-10-20] cite web |url=|title=AKA Centennial Welcome | |accessdate=2007-10-24] Recently, the sorority has supported the efforts of justice for the Jena Six.cite web |date=2007-09-19|url=|title=Sorority Demands Justice for Jena 6|publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated|accessdate=2007-09-20] Also, the sorority connects to the past by partnering with African Ancestry. [ [ African Ancestry] Retrieved on August 24, 2007.] Sorority members may use African Ancestry's DNA testing to find genealogical data for themselves and their families. The purpose of the partnership is to help members trace family connections through the world as well as in Africa, to embrace African-American culture and the larger community.cite web |url= |title=Sorority Partners with African Ancestry to Trace Ancestral Roots | |accessdate=2007-08-23]

Centennial Celebration: 2008

Alpha Kappa Alpha is celebrating their centenary with a year-long commemoration in 2008. The celebration will also coincide with the sorority's biennial Boulé. Internationally, some Alpha Kappa Alpha members began marking the festivities by making a pilgrimage to Howard University from January 12 to January 15, 2008.cite web
url= |title=Celebrating 100 Years of Service | |accessdate=2007-04-29
] cite web
url= |title=AKA Returns to Its Roots| |accessdate=2007-08-31
] The activities included sorority members financially donating $1 million dollars in scholarship funds to Howard University, [ [ Alpha Kappa Alpha Donates $1 Million to Howard University: Contribution Caps Emotional Day of Tributes During AKA's Centennial Celebration] . Black News Press Release. Retrieved January 18, 2008.] contributing libraries for Middle School for Mathematics and Science and Asbury Dwelling for Senior Citizens, and unveiling a digital version of the entire "Ivy Leaf" publication. [ [ "Alpha Kappa Alpha Ushers in Centennial Year"] . Retrieved January 8, 2008.] In addition, sorority undergraduate and graduate members who were not available to attend ceremonies in Washington, D.C., held celebrations in local cities. [cite news |first=Wende |last=Hanna |coauthors= |title=Sorority celebrates centennial anniversary |date=2008-01-15 |publisher=The Freeport News |url= |work=Nassau Guardian |pages= |accessdate=2008-01-18 |language=] [cite news |first=Wesley |last=Robinson |coauthors= |title=Sorority honors members' work over 100 years |date=2008-01-16 |publisher=University of Kentucky |url= |work=The Kentucky Kernal |pages= |accessdate=2008-01-18 |language=] On July 11 to July 18, 2008, Alpha Kappa Alpha is holding their 63rd Boulé. A town hall meeting with the public, a unity march in conjunction with other NPHC members, and a concert featuring R&B Grammy Award winning singer Patti LaBelle were some of the events which occurred at the centennial Boulé. [ [ Centennial Boulé 2008: A Once-in-a-Century Celebration] . Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Retrieved on 2008-01-18.]

Alpha Kappa Alpha's accomplishments were heralded by the United States Congress, with U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton and sorority member U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee agreeing to pass legislation in both houses of the United States Congress to commemorate the sorority's founding. [cite news |first= |last= |coauthors= |title=Centennial Anniversary of Alpha Kappa Alpha |date=2008-01-15 |publisher="The Hudson Valley Press"|url= |work=The Hudson Valley Press Online |pages= |accessdate=2008-01-17 |language=] In addition, the toy company Mattel designed a Barbie collectible doll fashioned with a pink and green evening gown. [Bennett, Brad. [ "AKA's black Barbie may inspire young girls"] . "Broward Times", 2008-01-18. Retrieved on 2008-01-21.] [ [ "Barbie Doll Unveiled at International Convention"] . Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. July 14, 2008.]


Alpha Kappa Alpha reports a membership of over 200,000 college-trained women around the world. The sorority has over 49,000 active members who comprise a diverse constituency, from educators to heads of state, politicians, lawyers, medical professionals, media personalities, and corporate managers. Graduate members constitute the largest percentage of membership.cite web |url= |title=AKA Membership Profile | |accessdate=2006-10-02] Alpha Kappa Alpha has 950 chapters, located in the United States, the Caribbean, Canada, Germany, Korea and Japan.

The term "soror", derived from the Latin for "sister", [cite book|last=Simpson|first=D.P.|title=Cassell's Latin Dictionary|publisher=Cassell Ltd.|year=1979|edition = 5|location=London|pages=883|id=ISBN 0-304-52257-0] is used between members of the sorority. Membership of the Directorate includes the Board of Directors. For graduate chapters, "Omega" is added to distinguish those which consist of college graduates from undergraduate chapters. "Supreme," as a term, is amended to an international officeholder, such as "Supreme Basileus".cite web |url=|format=PDF|title=AKA Quick Facts |publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated|accessdate=2007-05-09] Deceased members are referred to as "Ivies Beyond the Wall".

Honorary membership is Alpha Kappa Alpha's highest honor. For example, Jane Addams, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is among the first honorary members.Parker, M., "Past is Prologue", p. 272.] Eleanor Roosevelt, a former First Lady and wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was made an honorary member. Senator Hillary Clinton, former First Lady and wife of President Bill Clinton, initially accepted honorary membership into Alpha Kappa Alpha, but later declined due to the sorority's exclusive requirements preventing acceptance into other NPHC organizations."Announcements." Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. October 2005.]

Membership interest and intake

The Ivy Leaf Pledge Club was the official pledge club of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. [Parker, M., "In the Eye of the Beholder", p. 2.] The club consisted of potential candidates who were interested in joining the sorority. Interested members would join the pledge club before being inducted into the sorority.cite web |first=Lambda Zeta Chapter History|date=2007-02-19|url=
title=Prospective Members|publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated - Lambda Zeta|accessdate=2007-05-27

In "Our Kind of People: Inside America's Upper Class," Lawrence Otis Graham tells of his aunt's experience in joining the Ivy Pledge Club: cquote|We had to learn a lot more about the historic beginnings of the AKAs, and we did it by writing long letters of application to the Ivy Leaf Pledge Club—the senior wing of the sorority that regulated the admissions process—and then attending monthly meetings where the older students tutored us on the history.cite book
first=Lawrence Otis
title="Our Kind of People: Inside America's Black Upper Class"
publisher=HarperCollins Publishers
location=New York, New York
In addition, according to Graham, the sorority would have "Pledge Week", a period where a candidate's grades and behavior were reviewed by chapter members. Candidates who withstood this period were initiated into the sorority. Membership interest is processed by an interest meeting, known as a "rush". After the candidate receives an official letter from the sorority, she can participate in the membership intake process. Prospective members must have a C+ average prior to their membership submission as well as have a record in community service. If a prospective member has graduated, that member could be invited to join the sorority at the discretion of the graduate chapter.cite web |first=Alpha Kappa Alpha - Prospective Members Chapter|year=2006|url=
title=Alpha Kappa Alpha - Prospective Members|publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated|accessdate=2007-05-27

Leadership: Founders and Executive Directors

The leadership of the sorority in the early years was derived from three separate groups—the original group, the sophomores and the incorporators, who together were known as "The Twenty Pearls."cite web |url= |title=AKA Leadership | |accessdate=2006-10-07] cite web |url= |title=AKA Quick Facts |publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated|format=PDF |accessdate=2007-05-09] The Executive Director position has been held by eight members since the office's creation on October 9, 1949. [McNealey E., "Pearls of Service", p. 257.]

International Presidents

Listed below are the twenty-seven International Presidents since the sorority's institution of the office in 1913. [ [ "International Presidents"] . Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Retrieved on December 31, 2007.]


The Boulé is the regulating institution of the sorority and currently meets every two years.cite web |url= |title=AKA Quick Facts |format=PDF |publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated|accessdate=2007-05-09] Throughout the years, notable individuals such as civil rights activists (Martin Luther King, Jr. and Roy Wilkins) and political figures (former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter) were speakers at past Boulé conferences.


After the establishment of 32 graduate and undergraduate chapters in 1924, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority organized chapters according to their regions in the United States and abroad. The Boulé determines the boundaries of the regions.cite web |url=|title=Regional Tributes|publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated|accessdate=2007-05-15] The ten regions are each led by a regional director, where she serves a member of the sorority's Board of Directors. In addition to serving on the sorority's Board of Directors, the regional director also follows guidelines, program targets set by the International President, as well as procedures. Almost two-thirds of the sorority's regional directors have been elected international presidents. A comprehensive list of regions is shown below:

*South Central
*South Eastern
*South Atlantic
*North Atlantic
*Great Lakes

Current platform

The National Program theme for 2006–2010 administration, led by Alpha Kappa Alpha's International President Barbara A. McKinzie, is "The Heart of ESP: An Extraordinary Service Program." ESP is an acronym for Economics, Sisterhood, and Partnerships.cite web |url=
title=2006 - 2010 Program |publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated|accessdate=2007-05-09
] The purpose of ESP is to energize and strengthen service to the community and sisterhood within Alpha Kappa Alpha.

The five platforms included in the International Program and implemented in the Ivy Reading AKAdemy are:

:*Platform I - Non-Traditional Entrepreneur:*Platform II - Economic Keys to Success:*Platform III - The Economic Growth of the Black Family:*Platform IV - Undergraduate Signature Program:" Economic Educational Advancement Through Technology":*Platform V - Health Resource Management and Economics

On April 21, 2007, Centennial International President Barbara McKinzie announced that the Undergraduate Signature Program, "Economic Educational Advancement through Technology", would provide free technology training to community residents through model programs at ten universities, (five are HBCUs), which include the following:cite web |url=
title=Alpha Kappa Alpha to Provide Free Computer Training to Community Residents of Ten Colleges Nationwide |format=PDF|publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated|accessdate=2007-04-27
*Langston University
*University of Toledo
*Florida A&M University
*Texas Southern University
*Northwestern University
*Brown University
*Vanderbilt University
*Stanford University
*University of the Virgin Islands
*North Carolina A&T

National programs

Educational Advancement Foundation

Alpha Kappa Alpha's Educational Advancement Foundation (EAF) is a separate and tax-exempt branch of the sorority, which "provide [s] financial support to individuals and organizations engaged in lifelong learning."cite web |url=|title=About Educational Advancement Foundation|publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated - Educational Advancement Foundation|accessdate=2007-05-16] The foundation awards academic scholarships (for undergraduate members of the sorority, as well as non-members), fellowships, and grants for community service.cite web |url=|title=AKA Educational Advancement Foundation Programs|publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated - Educational Advancement Foundation|accessdate=2007-05-16]

History and donations

The foundation was the brainchild of Constance Holland, the sister of former Alpha Kappa Alpha International President Dr. Barbara Phillips, in 1978. The foundation had official beginnings in 1980 and the sorority donated US$10,000 for the project. Eight years later, the organization first awarded $10,000 to fourteen students. In 1991, EAF first awarded mini-grants to community organizations. In 1998, EAF provided the first Youth Partners Accessing Capital (P.A.C.) award to an undergraduate member.

At the organization's twentieth anniversary in 2000, EAF published "Perpetuating Our Posterity: A Blueprint for Excellence." The book served as a comprehensive history of the organization and as a source of advice for other beginning philanthropies. EAF went online with a website in 2003.

The organization celebrated a silver anniversary in Nassau, Bahamas, in 2005. EAF is incorporated into International President Barbara A. MacKenzie's centennial program for funding under Excellent Scholarly Performance. Overall, EAF has donated more than $200,000 in grants and awarded 1,400 students with scholarships.cite web |url=|title=Making a Difference - Educational Advancement Foundation|publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated|accessdate=2007-05-16] Other major donors to EAF include Continental Airlines and Northern Trust.cite web |url=|title=Donors - Educational Advancement Foundation|publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated - Educational Advancement Foundation|accessdate=2007-05-16]


*Advocates for Black Colleges - The purpose of the Advocates for Black Colleges is to raise $100,000 for a selected historically black college and university, to support the institution's scholarships and program grants. Corporations as well as minority graduates of historically black colleges are encouraged to donate funds as well. The first college receiving aid is Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.cite web |url=|title=New Initiatives|publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated - Educational Advancement Foundation|accessdate=2007-05-17]

*Howard University Fund - Alpha Kappa Alpha is celebrating the centennial of the sorority's founding by donating $2 million to Howard University though two facets. First, the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center houses the historical artifacts, photographs, documents, and recordings of Alpha Kappa Alpha's contributions to community service. One million dollars will be used to improve Alpha Kappa Alpha's archives. In addition, one million dollars will be donated to the Nellie M. Quander Scholarship Fund. The fund will be used to finance partial or full scholarships for Howard University women in their junior and senior years.

*Chapter Scholarships - Undergraduate and graduate members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority's chapters send separate dues to the Educational Advancement Foundation to fund local scholarships.cite web |url=|format=PDF|title=Chapter Remittance Guidelines - Steps To "ESP...Excellent Scholarly Performance"|publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated - Educational Advancement Foundation|accessdate=2007-05-17] Depending on the size of the contributions by the chapter, the scholarships generally range from $100 to $500. For a chapter to donate under the EAF's Endowment Fund, a chapter needs to raise $20,000.cite web |url=|format=PDF|title=Chapter Endowment Memorandum of Understanding|publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated - Educational Advancement Foundation|accessdate=2007-05-17]

*The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Traveling Exhibit chronicles achievements of Alpha Kappa Alpha members through the organization's one-hundred years. The exhibit appears in several cities across the nation from 2006 to 2008.cite web |url=|title=Travelling Exhibit|publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated - Educational Advancement Foundation|accessdate=2007-05-16]

Ivy Acres

Ivy Acres will be a retirement center located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The retirement center is sponsored by Senior Residences, Incorporated, a subsidiary of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Ivy Acres will be one of the first retirement centers founded by African-Americans and minorities in the United States. It will offer assisted or individual living for individuals who are over fifty-five, regardless of background, ethnicity or religion.cite web |year=2007|url= |title=AKA Centennial Regions: Mid-Atlantic|publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated|accessdate=2007-11-05] Barbara K. Phillips, former Vice-President and Project Coordinator for Senior Residences, Incorporated, explains the purpose of Ivy Acres, "We determined that there is a need out there, but this will be open to all. We want to be diverse, we want to be multicultural. Anyone who wants to come will be welcome."cite news |first=Marc |last=Barnes |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Long-planned continuing care complex draws closer to reality |url= |work="The Business Journal" |publisher=American City Business Journals|date=October 4, 2002|accessdate=2007-06-19]

The gated community will be located on a 48-acre site. The planning for Ivy Acres cost approximately $32 million USD. In addition, according to "Business Wire", Ivy Acres will comprise "188 independent residential units, which will be both apartments and cottages, forty assisted-living apartments and twenty private accommodations for skilled nursing care." Residents are expected to pay $1,890 to $2,890 per month for services.

Ivy Reading AKAdemy

The Ivy Reading AKAdemy provides programs that encourage the entire community to become involved. The concept serves as an educational and human resource center for programs provided by Alpha Kappa Alpha. Working with No Child Left Behind in mind, "The Ivy Reading AKAdemy," a reading initiative, focuses on early learning and mastery of basic reading skills by the end of third grade. The Ivy Reading AKAdemy has a $1.5 million dollar proposal pending with the United States Department of Education to fund a three-year nationwide after-school demonstration project in low-performing, economically deprived inner city schools in 16 sites within the continental United States.

Leadership Fellows Program

The Leadership Fellows Program is a fully funded event in which thirty Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority sophomore and junior undergraduate members worldwide are individually trained for professional leadership roles. In addition, the fellows contribute to community service for one week. One of the selection criteria is that members must have at least a 3.0 GPA.cite web |url=|title=Leadership Fellows Program |publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated|accessdate=2007-05-11] The program initially was planned in 1978. In the following year, the first program was held in Indiana with twenty-nine students.cite web |url=|format=PDF
title=Alpha Kappa Alpha National Programs |publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated|accessdate=2007-05-11
] Various cities around the United States have held the Leadership Fellows Program. In the past, Alpha Kappa Alpha has sponsored the event through the Educational Advancement Foundation. Also, the program has been financed by Pillsbury, Tyson Foods, Johnson & Johnson, and most recently General Electric.cite web |url=|format=PDF|title=2007 Leadership Fellows Program Application|publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated|accessdate=2007-05-11] cite web |url=|title=Leadership Fellows Program Adds GE as Partner|publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated|accessdate=2008-03-04]

P.I.M.S. (Partnerships in Mathematics and Science)

Partnerships in Mathematics and Science (P.I.M.S.) began in Eva Evans's administration in 1994, and was a part of the S.P.I.R.I.T. program during the Linda White administration.McNealey, E., "Pearls of Service", p. 152.] Eva Evans mentioned the need for a math and science program, "As a college sorority, we've always advanced an educational agenda. We always had high GPA requirements. And more than ever, we're pushing the importance of math and science for our girls. We need more black women in those fields."Graham, L., "Our Kind of People", p. 91.] The program's purpose is to increase the successes of youth in mathematics and science, as well as technology. Campaigns to highlight the program's importance were sponsored by the National Science Foundation and historically black colleges from across the country. Several chapters provided two-week math and science summer camps on college and day school campuses, which consisted of hands-on-learning through laboratory interactions, field trips to important sites, youth camps, and speeches from influential experts in specific areas of studies. For example, a P.I.M.S. program at Park Street Elementary School in Marietta, Georgia, consisted of third through fifth grade girls and provided educational field trips in order to stimulate involvement in math and science.cite web |url=
title=Park Street Elementary School-Our Programs |publisher=Marietta City Schools|accessdate=2007-05-29
] Also, a national P.I.M.S. Olympiad, deriving from knowledge of math and science, in conjunction with the P.I.M.S. Community Parade was held at the 58th Boulé in Dallas, Texas.

Young Authors Program

In Linda White's administration, the Young Authors Program was born. The purpose of the program is to encourage and raise involvement in reading and writing in kindergarten through third grade school children. Each of the ten regions in the sorority had the opportunity to choose a child's story to be published in a two volume anthology entitled, "The Spirit Within: Voices of Young Authors". In 2004, twenty children were honored in the first anthology.cite news |first=
last= |authorlink= |author= |coauthors= |title=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority focuses on early childhood literacy at 61st AKA National Convention |url= |work=Jet |publisher=Johnson Publishing Company |pages= |page= |date=2004-08-30 |accessdate=2007-05-31 |quote=
] The authors were recognized and performed book signings in the 2004 and 2006 Boulés. At the 2004 Boulé in Nashville, Tennessee, former Department of Education Secretary Rod Paige attended. On July 15, 2004, First Lady Laura Bush spoke on the Ivy AKAdemy's dedication to reading initiatives, "Teaching our children to read is the most critical educational priority facing our country. Children who do not learn to read by third grade continue to find reading a challenge throughout their lives. These expectations increase in amount and complexity each year."cite web |date=2004-07-15|url=|title=Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Alpha Kappa Alpha National Convention|publisher=Office of the First Lady|accessdate=2007-05-31]



*cite book |last=Anderson|first=James D.|title=The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860–1935 |year=1988 |publisher=University of North Carolina Press |location=Chapel Hill
*Brown, Tamara L., Parks, Gregory and Phillips, Clarenda M. (2005) "African American Fraternities and Sororities: The Legacy and the Vision". Lexington: University Press of Kentucky
*cite book |last=McNealey|first=Earnestine G. |title=Pearls of Service: The Legacy of America’s First Black Sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha |year=2006 |publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated |location=Chicago ISBN 2006928528
*cite book |last=Parker |first=Marjorie H.|title=Alpha Kappa Alpha: 1908–1958 |year=1958 |publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated |location=Chicago
*cite book |last=Parker |first=Marjorie H.|title=Alpha Kappa Alpha: Sixty Years of Service |year=1966 |publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated |location=Chicago
*cite book |last=Parker |first=Marjorie H.|title=Alpha Kappa Alpha: In the Eye of the Beholder |year=1979 |publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated |location=Chicago
*cite book |last=Parker |first=Marjorie H. |title=Alpha Kappa Alpha Through the Years: 1908–1988 |year=1990 |publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated |location=Chicago
*cite book |last=Parker |first=Marjorie H.|title=Past is Prologue: The History of Alpha Kappa Alpha 1908–1999 |year=1999 |publisher=Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated |location=Chicago ISBN 0933244002
*cite book |last=Ross, Jr. |first=Lawrence |authorlink=Lawrence Ross|title=The Divine Nine: The History of African-American Fraternities and Sororities in America |year=2000 |publisher=Kensington |location=New York ISBN 1575664917

External links

* [ Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Official Website]
* [ Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Centennial Celebration]
* [ Alpha Kappa Alpha - Educational Advancement Foundation, Incorporated]
* [ "Ivy Leaf": 1921–1998 Microfiche Guide] (PDF)

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