The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. is the first African-American sorority. It came into existence on Jan. 15, 1908. The founder Ethel Hedgeman founded AKA, intending to create a support network for like-minded women.
It is one of the divine 9 sororities that were founded to support the African American College students to get united, find their voice, and connect with a community to fight for fair treatment and equal rights. Each of these sororities has a rich history. Many college-educated African American families in the US have people associated with one of the sororities.
The following tenets form the basis of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority:
- Facilitating and encouraging high scholastic and ethical standards
- Promoting unity and friendship among college women
- To study and help alleviate problems concerning girls and women to improve their social stature
- To encourage interest in college life
- To serve the entire humankind
The AKA sorority has succeeded in its goals over the years and many AKA women have found success in their endeavors. They have built national programs focusing on family and community benefits. This includes the extraordinary Service Program, which is classified as one of the most important community efforts by AKA. The ESP is a set of 5 programs that focuses on resolving issues in African American communities. AKA women have made their mark in fields like politics, entertainment, sports, and literature.
Here are the women from Alpha Kappa Alpha who have made extraordinary contributions and uncovered success in their respective fields:
Ethel Hedgeman Lyle: Ethel was the founder of AKA. She was the first international treasurer of the sorority and served more than 20 years. She was the first black lady to get a teacher's life certificate from the Oklahoma State Department of education and she is often referred to as the guiding light.
Senator Kamala Harris: Kamala Harris was sworn as a California senator in 2017. She was the first woman who served as the state's attorney general. She serves on the committees for budget, homeland security, governmental affairs, intelligence, and security. During her tenure as a prosecutor, she received attention for her tough questioning. She is currently serving as the 49th vice president of the US.
Representative Sheila Jackson Lee: Sheila was the US Representative for the 18th Congressional District in Texas. She completed her BA in political science from Yale University and attended the University of Virginia Law school for her Juris Doctor's degree. She has been serving since 1996 on the house's Judiciary, homeland security, and budget committees. She also advocates for women and children.
Phylicia Rashad: Phylicia joined AKA at Howard University, the birthplace of divine 9 sororities. She is popular for her performance in the sitcom 'The Cosby show' and is also the first African-American actress to have won the Tony Award for best actress. Her performance in 'A Raisin in the sun' earned her this award.
Toni Morrison: Toni pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha in 1950. She is a renowned author in American history. Her book ‘Beloved’ won the Pulitzer Prize. In 1998, the book was also adapted into a movie. In 1993, Toni won the Nobel prize for literature. This was the first time that the award went to an African American. She was honored with the presidential medal of freedom by Barack Obama in 2012.
Dorothy Ferebee: Dorothy was an obstetrician. She worked hard in the field of women’s health care and racial equality. She was an M.D who completed her education at Tufts University College of Medicine and later worked at Howard University’s medical school. She candidly talked about the racism and sexism that she grappled with during medical school. She narrated her experiences as one of the 5 women in a class with a strength of 137. Dorothy talked about the discrimination she faced as she was a woman and a negro too.
Althea Gibson: Althea is an African American tennis star. She etched her name in history by becoming the first black person to win a grand slam. She also won the French open, single titles at Wimbledon, and the U.S open. She also became the first black athlete to get the female athlete of the world title by the Associate Press.
Sharon Pratt: Sharon served as the Mayor of Washington, D.C. between 1991 and 1995. She was the first African-American woman to become the mayor of a major city in America.
Ida L. Jackson: Ida was once the international president of AKA sorority and also the first black woman to earn a teaching credential from California. When she was the AKA president, she also founded the first mobile healthcare unit in the US. The unit was later renamed ‘The Mississippi Health Project’.
Nellie Quander: Quander was an educator in Washington D.C. She was instrumental in demanding equal treatment for black females. She wrote a letter to the organizers of the 1913 Women’s suffrage march demanding equal treatment. Later, AKA women also marched in support of the movement.
Maya Angelou: Maya who was a poet, actor, filmmaker, writer, civil rights activist, and dancer actively participated in the civil rights movement. She worked as the northern coordinator for the 1959 Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She has received honors such as the national medal of arts, Pulitzer prize, and a presidential medal of freedom.
The first Greek-lettered sorority has given the world great names who have made immense contributions to bring change to the lives of African Americans. If you have also pledged to the sorority and know someone who has, AKA is a badge of honor. Flaunt it with high-quality amazing merchandise that will reflect your commitment to the pledge and help you create a statement. Find amazing merchandise here.