By Stephanie R. Jones
The national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. pulled no punches when she addressed her membership in Jackson Feb. 25. “Let’s keep it real,” Paulette C. Walker told her sorority sisters and others at their Founders Day luncheon held in Downtown Jackson.
Walker challenged sorority members to “dare to be bold and courageous” in their service to community, the cornerstone of the sorority’s mission.
The Founders Day luncheon was hosted by Jackson (MS) Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta and drew more than 500 Deltas and guests at the Jackson Marriott Hotel. The theme of the gathering was “A Sisterhood of Leadership – Past, Present and Future.” The women honored the 22 founders of the 104-year-old public service organization.
“I’m going to challenge each Delta and non-Delta to keep it real and focus on uncompromising service to community; and the reason I say uncompromising is because we don’t apologize for what we do,” Walker said. Walker asked that Deltas be mindful of the purpose set forth by their founders. “Are you real; are you unique; are you authentic?” she asked. “And what do you have to offer in service to the community?”
Denise Griffin-Whittington, president of the Jackson Alumni Chapter, said Founders Day is important to sorority members because “it is a time for us to show our love and respect for our 22 illustrious founders … and give thanks to God for sustaining our sisterhood for 104 years.”
“We were honored to have our national president join us this year, and we enjoyed and appreciated her message of encouragement and her challenge for us to keep it real. Dr. Walker is a visionary and dedicated leader, and the service we provide through Jackson (MS) Alumnae Chapter is designed to fulfill her challenge of ‘uncompromising commitment to communities through service, leadership and empowerment.”
The Jackson (MS) Alumnae Chapter, chartered in 1941, is comprised of 300 members from the Jackson metro area. Chapter members from Madison and Rankin counties, Clinton, Vicksburg and Natchez were in attendance. Walker, who is nearing the end of her four years as president, held the audience in total attention during her speech.
No one moved the whole time as they listened to their dynamic leader. She peppered her speech with down-home antidotes, telling how when she comes to Jackson she likes to eat catfish and collard greens, which she did on her weekend visit. Walker received a red carpet welcome at the Jackson Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport; she was greeted by the airport’s executive director Carl Newman and a throng of supporters seeking selfies and a hand shake.
Although the sorority’s actual Founders Day is January 13, the Jackson chapter held it this weekend in part so Walker could attend. It will be one of her last Founders Day events before her term ends later this year. Walker, a Detroit native and Floridian, for more than two decades, was re-elected for her second term July 2015 at the conclusion of the Sorority’s 52nd National Convention in Houston.
Initiated into the Sorority through the Epsilon Epsilon Chapter of Michigan State University in October 1966, Walker celebrated her 50th year as a Delta in 2016. “I am the only president to sign her own 50-year certificate and my line sisters’ certificates,” Walker said.
The Jackson chapter announced during the luncheon two monetary donations of $10,000 each to Jackson State University and Tougaloo College. Accepting the gifts were Doris Bridgeman, representing Tougaloo, and Stephanie Nellons-Paige, interim First Lady of Jackson State University. Nellons-Paige’s announcement that Jackson State has invited the Delta Pi chapter back on campus after a five-year suspension, drew a long, thunderous applause from the audience.
The sorority’s national initiatives include the Dr. Jeanne L. Noble Delta GEMS (Growing and Empowering Myself Successfully; the Dr. Betty Shabazz Delta Academy; EMBODI (Empowering Males to Build Opportunities for Developing Independence; Delta Days at the Nation’s Capital; and Delta Days at the United Nations.
Since its founding, more than 250,000 women have been initiated into the organization. The sorority currently has 1,000 collegiate and alumnae chapters located in the United States, England, Japan (Tokyo and Okinawa), Germany, the Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica and the Republic of Korea.
Stephanie R. Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 454-0372.