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Alpha Kappa Alpha chapter celebrates 75th anniversary

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.'s Delta Omega Omega chapter celebrated its 75th anniversary Dec. 3 at Pilgrim Baptist Church, 2507 Hill St., where the Rev. Kevin Crumpton is pastor. A sisterhood reception was scheduled to follow the service.

The vision of the chapter in Pine Bluff emerged in the minds of several AKA Sorority sisters who were residents of Pine Bluff in 1947. This group began meeting informally to explore the possibilities of chartering a graduate chapter. The organizing sisters were initiated in numerous chapters across the country and brought various perspectives on the organization and operation of a graduate chapter. However, their overwhelming desire was to charter a graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority in Pine Bluff, according to a news release.

Delta Omega Omega charter members were Ozana Vinyard Roberts, who had a close association with the 14th national president of Alpha Kappa Alpha at that time, and Arnetta Wallace, who had been her neighbor in their hometown of Knoxville, Tenn.

Through Roberts, the sorority members were guided and directed by Wallace on the path to establishing a graduate chapter. The nine Alpha Kappa Alpha women who were interested in making it happen included Alma Brown Baeza (Zeta chapter, Wilberforce, Ohio); Sarah Dymple Burnett (Zeta chapter, Wilberforce); Ruth Burns (Alpha Tau chapter, Tyler, Texas); Gussye Dickey (Beta Pi chapter, Montgomery, Ala.); Mary Curry Harris (Pi chapter, Nashville, Tenn.); Evelyn Johnson (Omicron chapter, Cincinnati, Ohio); Jane Lovelace (Beta Delta Omega chapter, Jackson, Miss.); Roberts (Alpha Pi Omega chapter, Knoxville); and Hattie Watson (Kappa Omega chapter, Atlanta). Watson was also the wife of John Brown Watson, president of AM&N College (now University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) who served from 1928-1942, according to the release.

In the fall of 1948, Irma Glasco, an initiate of Alpha Psi chapter, Nashville, transferred from Tennessee A&I College to Arkansas AM&N College and was allowed to complete the vision. On Dec. 11, 1948, the Delta Omega Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority was chartered by the 14th national president and became a reality in Pine Bluff.

Contributions to the Pine Bluff community provided by Delta Omega Omega chapter members include holding top administrative and faculty positions at AM&N/UAPB, as well as numerous leadership positions in the community.

The chapter also obtained a life membership in the NAACP and became a supporter of the Jefferson County affiliate of Habitat for Humanity and the Boys and Girls Club of Jefferson County, established endowments that ensure AKAdemic Scholarships for students who attend UAPB, and conducts annual cancer drives in Pine Bluff and surrounding areas. The work with the American Cancer Society continues today and is the longest ongoing community service effort of the chapter.

Delta Omega Omega introduced the Debutante Cotillion to the community during the spring of 1968 and is still presenting young women and girls to adult society who it deems exemplary of high moral character, academic excellence and a desire to become successful in all their future endeavors. Each year, debutantes are awarded scholarships to attend UAPB.

Numerous sorority members serve, or have served, the state of Arkansas and the Pine Bluff area on various boards and commissions. The chapter also increased the number and monetary value of scholarships awarded to students at UAPB. In a quest from Alpha Kappa Alpha's corporate office to raise a million dollars in a day, Delta Omega Omega was excited to be a part of donating $50,000 to UAPB.

The chapter is proud to boast that it has one Diamond Member, Gwendolyn Cooper, who has been a member of the sorority for 75 years. Carolyn Blakely, Jessie Clemmons and Katryne Horton are Pearl Members and have been members of the sorority for 65 years. Mattie Collins, Patricia Gregory, Dorothy Holt, Jennifer Lee, Dorothy McFadden, Patricia Richard, Earsline Turner, and Betty Wright are Golden Members who have been members for 50 years.

Presently, Yaminah Roberts is president of Delta Omega Omega chapter and Kelli Dixon is vice president. Under their leadership, the chapter is implementing the following sorority targets: Empower Our Families, Build Our Economic Wealth, Enhance Our Environment, Advocate for Social Justice, and Uplift Our Local Community. The chairs of the 75th Celebration of Excellence are Kimberly Fox-Stepps and Kimberly Newton.

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