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Sheila J.
Democrat TX 18

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  • Commemorating 106Th Anniversary of the Founding of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

    by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee

    Posted on 2014-01-15

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    JACKSON LEE of texas in the house of representatives Wednesday, January 15, 2014 Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise to commemorate the 106th anniversary of the founding of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the first Greek-letter organization established by black college women in America.

    This prestigious organization, founded at Howard University by nine visionary women in 1908, at a period when Jim Crow laws flourished in the law books, knew the rigors of their journey during the early 1900s. Those nine special women were: Anna Easter Brown, Beulah Burke, Lillie Burke, Marjorie Hill, Margaret Flagg Holmes, Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, Lavinia Norman, Lucy Slowe, and Marie Woolfolk Taylor.

    The organization, which has grown to a sisterhood of more than 260,000 members in 975 chapters worldwide, includes an extraordinary collection of women, who now encompass diverse ethnicities and nationalities and are united by a bond of sisterhood and a commitment to service.

    Alpha Kappa Alpha was founded to touch lives, improve the stature of women and serve humankind. Its mission is to develop leaders, expand educational and economic opportunity, and ensure that the Sorority is fully engaged in the civic life of the nation and each community in which it has a chapter.

    Sojourner Truth once said, that ``If women want any rights more than [they've] got, why don't they just take them and not be talking about it.'' This quote embodies the spirit that the determined women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

    Alpha Kappa Alpha is home to college presidents, deans, directors of Fortune 500 companies, judges, mayors, Members of Congress, state legislatures, city councils, and school boards. This sorority has provided the foundation for intellectuals such as Sharon Pratt Kelly, the first woman to serve as mayor of Washington, D.C.; Angie Brookes, the first woman President of the United Nations; the long revered Rosa Parks, mother of the Civil Rights Movement; Azie Taylor Morton, the only African-American to hold the position of Treasurer of the United States; and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

    Alpha Kappa Alpha women have served in the United States Armed Services and devoted their lives to saving ours. I salute those women today who are active or retired military personnel. They are the sheroes that should be emulated by the next generation.

    AKA's have long referred to founder Ethel Hedgeman Lyle as the ``guiding light,'' a figurative phrase that emphasizes the central importance to AKA sisters of aptitude, resilience, unwavering service, and valor.

    President George W. Bush, in his address at the 55th Inauguration, stated that: Our nation relies on men and women who look after a neighbor and surround the lost with love. Americans, at our best, value the life we see in one another, and must always remember that even the unwanted have worth.

    I am honored to commemorate this historic milestone and commemorate the 106th anniversary of the coming together of an amazing sisterhood, born of the passion for humanitarian service and educational excellence of nine extraordinary young women.

    As a member of the Alpha Kappa Omega Graduate Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority in Houston, Texas, I take great pride in the fact that the legacy of the founders lives on in the work of the Omega Graduate Chapter under the leadership of Marianne Young Walker, Chapter President; and Jeanne Cherise Story, Chapter Treasurer.

    Alpha Kappa Omega Chapter located in Houston, Texas is also the home chapter of: [[Page E81]] The 18th International President, Dr. Mattelia B. Grays; the 21st International President, Ms. Faye B. Bryant; the 20th South Central Regional Director, Dr. Polly Sparks Turner; and the 23rd South Central Regional Director, Mrs. Gwendolyn J. Brinkley.

    Inspired by a dedicated investment of human capital and a bold commitment to the principles of basic human rights, the sisters of Alpha Kappa Omega Chapter dedicates their talent and resources to the betterment of their community and live by this motto: ``Global Leadership through Timeless Service.'' Among the signature program initiatives of Alpha Kappa Omega Chapter are the following: Emerging Young Leaders Program, which--impact the lives of 10,000 girls in grades six through eight by providing leadership development, civic engagement, enhanced academic preparation and character building.

    Health Initiatives--encourage personal fitness and healthy life styles to reduce health disparities, save lives.

    Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability an initiative to encourage energy efficiency, conservation, eco-living, reforestation, urban gardening, education and empowerment of consumers, and opportunities for women owned businesses.

    Global Poverty Initiative, a program to hunger, preserve the environment and empower women by providing food production skills and training in self-reliance through gifts of seeds, livestock and training in environmentally sound agriculture.

    Social Justice and Human Right Initiative, which addresses gender equality issues including human trafficking and domestic violence, services for children with incarcerated parents, youth aging out of foster care and children in homeless shelters.

    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to recognize the extraordinary achievements of this extraordinary organization that has been providing leadership for our nation for 106 years.


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