Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner poses with emcee and Delta leadership. From (L-R), Event Co-Chair Angela Sterling, emcee “Funky” Larry Jones from KMJQ, Houston Alumnae Chapter President Jona Sargent, Mayor Turner, One Delta Plaza Educational Center Board Chair Audrey Gassama, Event Co-Chair Tonja Jackson and Event Co-Chair Brishaun Sutton (Photo credit: Theos Creations Photography by Richele Theodore and Monica Blackshire Photography).
Houston Deltas Doing Good for the Community; Predominantly Black Greek-Letter Organizations Flex Political Muscle
Tumultuous definitely accurately describes 2020.
Americans have had to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and racial turmoil following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake.
But despite the turmoil, the Houston Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. has not let that stop them from giving back to the community via college scholarships.
“COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on the Black community. African-Americans are dual survivors of the disproportionate health impacts of the coronavirus and an inequitable vulnerability to job loss or pay reduction,” said Jona Sargent, President of the Houston Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. “Due to the increased financial burden of COVID-19, many families are worried about whether or not they can send their student to college or keep them there. As such, this year we strived to increase our award amounts.”
The Deltas raised funds at the sorority’s 18th Annual Jazz Soiree Scholarship Fundraiser last December.
The fundraiser was held in partnership with One Delta Plaza Educational Center (ODPEC).
The Houston Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. raised $121,700 during the Jazz Soiree in December 2019 to help 50 recent high school graduates and current college students.
Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, scholarship recipients received recognition for their accomplishments virtually during May Week, a yearly observance highlighting academic and professional accomplishments, which emphasizes the importance of higher education.
Funds also came from chapter members and community partner-funded donations.
A total of 37 high school students and six college students received the scholarship funds.
Furthermore, the Houston Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta also gave out eight $500 laptop gift cards to graduating high school seniors who participated in the chapter’s community enrichment programs, Empowering Males to Build Opportunities for Developing Independence (EMBODI) and Dr. Jeanne L. Noble GEMS (Growing & Empowering Myself Successfully).
Those awarded with scholarships from the Houston Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. will attend, or are already attending, 29 different colleges.
Of those 29 colleges, 17 of those are Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Other students plan to attend, or attend, colleges such as Louisiana State University, University of Houston, University of Southern California and Texas A&M University.
As an organization with roots in the African-American community, the Delta scholarships come at a pivotal time for many of the recipients.
Houston Alumnae Chapter Scholarship Co-Chair Thelma Kennedy-Malveaux said, “We realize that this year was particularly difficult for our applicants and we are humbled by our ability to give during this time. Our total awards have greater importance this year. Many other scholarship programs were not available because of the abbreviated academic year.”
To qualify for the Delta scholarships, applicants had to meet grade point average requirements, residency requirements and other scholarship criteria.
Since 1997, the Houston Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. has awarded over $1 million in scholarship money to students in pursuit of higher education.
Houston Alumnae Chapter (HAC) of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was chartered in 1927 as the first Houston-area chapter of the not-for-profit, public service sisterhood. With a financial membership of more than 500 college-educated women, HAC continues its 93-year legacy of community service, educational scholarships and social advocacy in Houston.
During the turmoil of 2020, other predominantly African-American fraternities and sororities have also begun to flex their political muscle in a more coordinated way.
With former Vice President Joe Biden choosing Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as his 2020 presidential running mate, he has possibly tapped into nine organizations that intend to use their influence to get members to the poll to vote for the former Veep.
Sen. Harris is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Like Delta Sigma Theta, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority began on the campus of Howard University, an HBCU in Washington, D.C.
As a result, Harris’ nomination has energized many alums of HBCUs as well as many members of the nine predominantly African-American Greek-letter organizations.
“The sorority is a group of women, and we believe in service and sisterhood; and one of the things that we are taught is excellence, and to always bring our best foot forward,” said Carla Mannings, who graduated from Howard with Harris in 1986.
“And Howard University teaches that as well. I believe Howard shaped Kamala to who she is today, as well as the sorority…Absolutely we will support. And not only just because we know her. I’ll just speak for my own personal experience. You back a candidate who you believe is the best candidate. And she is the best candidate in my viewpoint. And I believe that she has everything that it takes to be the next vice president of the United States.”
The predominantly African-American sororities include: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
The fraternities with predominantly African-American membership include: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc.
U.S. Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.) and Alpha Kappa Alpha member said, “I will tell you overall, when you look at the more than 100 HBCUs across the country, we work with our young people to produce the Kamala Harrises of the world. I’m a prime example. First generation: I walked the ghetto streets of north New Jersey and now walk the halls of Congress.
“That’s what HBCUs do for you…We have a great history, we’ve just got to tell our story more. Kamala Harris is certainly a prime example of what happens at an HBCU. They will take the time to mold you and prepare you for leadership.”
Adams graduated from North Carolina A&T University.
Her grandson currently attends Harris’ alma mater, Howard University.
Adams also founded the Congressional Bipartisan Historically Black Colleges and Universities Caucus.