This past February marked the 45th celebration of Black History Month in order to honor the neglected accomplishments of Black Americans throughout history and in present-day. In honor of this celebration and the current Women’s History Month, it is important to acknowledge the wonderful Black sorority women who have accomplished great things and changed the course of history.
Loretta Lynch (Delta Sigma Theta)
Loretta Lynch, appointed by Barack Obama, served as the 83rd United States Attorney General from 2015 to 2017. She made history as the second African-American, second woman, and the first African-American woman to serve the position. Lynch begun her collegiate education at Harvard College in 1981 where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and American literature and a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1984. While at Harvard she was a charter member of the Xi Tau chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
Hattie McDaniel (Sigma Gamma Rho)
Hattie McDaniel, actress, singer-songwriter, and comedian was best known for being the first African American to win an Oscar for her role as “Mammy” in Gone with the Wind (1939) and the first black woman to sing on radio in the United States. She faced many racist obstacles that prevented her from celebrating her fame, such as not being allowed to attend the premiere of Gone with the Wind due to a whites-only theatre and her wish to be buried in Hollywood Cemetery being denied because of her race. McDaniel was also a charter member of the Los Angeles chapter of the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority.
Keisha Knight Pulliam (Delta Sigma Theta)
Keisha Knight Pulliam is an American actress known for her roles on The Cosby Show and Tyler Perry’s House of Payne. In 2001, she earned a Bachelor Arts in sociology from Spelman College where she was a member of the Eta Kappa chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
Condoleezza Rice (Alpha Chi Omega)
Condoleezza Rice is the current director of the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. In the past she served as the 66th United States Secretary of State and the 20th United States National Security Advisor. In these roles, she became the first female African-American Secretary of State and the first female National Security Advisor. While in her undergrad at the University of Denver, she initiated in the Gamma Delta chapter of Alpha Chi Omega. She graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and went on to receive her masters degree in political science from the University of Notre Dame.
Barbara Jordan (Delta Sigma Theta)
Barbara Jordan is a notable Civil Rights Movement leader, lawyer, educator, and politician. Jordan attended Texas Southern University where she pledged Delta Sigma Theta. She graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and history in 1956. She then graduated from Boston University School of Law in 1959. She served as the first African American Texas Senator and the first Southern African-American female United States Representative.
Toni Morrison (Alpha Kappa Alpha)
In 1949, Toni Morrison attended Howard University where she pledged the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1953, and then earned a Master of Arts from Cornell University in 1955. After graduating, Morrison taught English at Texas Southern University in Houston from 1955 to 1957, and then at Howard University. After leaving Howard, she went on to be the first Black female fiction editor at Random House, and later created her reputation as a writer that discussed racism in the United States. She has won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Song of Solomon, the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Beloved, the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature, the 1996 National Book Foundation's Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and the 2016 PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction. She also was selected from the Jefferson Lecture in 1996, presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2012, and was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame last year.
Kamala Harris (Alpha Kappa Alpha)
Kamala Harris has just recently been sworn in as the 49th and current vice president of the United States. She is the first female, the first African American, and first Asian American vice president. Harris graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and economics. While at Howard, Harris pledged the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. She then went on to attend the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. She later served as the attorney general of California and a United States senator before becoming vice president.
These seven women and many others stand as proud sorority women and role models. As members of this society, we must embrace all of our sisters and brothers with love and tolerance. Unfortunately, racism still exists today. As Greek Life members, we can do our best to address racism issues and the impact of white supremacy throughout history and today. Don’t be afraid to call out and correct your brothers or sisters. Ensure that your chapter has a plan to address racial bias and challenge racist recruitment mindsets like microaggressions and tokenism. The Greek Life community has a voice on campus and the ability to create change. So do so.
Alpha Omicron Pi