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There was lots of pink and green inside the Bowen East Center Saturday afternoon. Those are the colors of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. AKA was the first Greek-lettered sorority founded for women at historic black colleges. It began in 1908 at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Today there are over 300,000 AKA members in more than 1,000 chapters in the U.S. and abroad. The local chapter, Lambda Zeta Omega, was founded in 1976 and has over 30 members. --Wayne Clark

Local chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha celebrates anniversary

LANETT — On Saturday, the Lambda Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha played host to a Founders’ Day Celebration at the Bowen East District Center. AKA members from throughout the state were in town to celebrate the 112th anniversary of the founding of the first Greek-lettered sorority founded by African-American college women. The first chapter was organized at Howard University in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 15, 1908. Art was incorporated on Jan. 29, 1913.

For 112 years now, AKA chapters have been dedicated to five basic tenets: to cultivate and encourage wish scholastic and ethical standards, to promote unity and friendship among college women, to study and help alleviate problems concerning girls and women in order to improve their social stature, to maintain a progressive interest in college life and to be of service to all mankind.

The keynote speaker for the day, Mrs. Faye Pond Haygood, president of the AKA’s Beta Xi Omega Chapter in Tuskegee, said that AKA is a dynamic, flourishing organization today thanks to a special “spirit of the ivy” that began 112 years ago in the nation’s capital. AKA today has more than 300,000 members in more than 1,000 chapters in the U.S. and abroad.

“There is a special place in my heart for Alpha Kappa Alpha,” Haygood said. “I got on that Alpha train 32 years ago, and I’m still riding. I am so happy to be here today, and that God has given each one of us the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of other people. If you train a child in the manner you want them to go they will follow.”

Haygood commended the local Lambda Zeta Omega Chapter on the good work it has done in the Valley area since its founding in 1976.

“When this chapter was organized, we were only 11 years removed from the Voting Rights Act and the Commodores were singing “Just to be Close to You,” she said. ‘Alpha Kappa Alpha is more than women who wear pink and green. We promote structure, organization and service wherever we go. We are all a part of an excellent legacy. You are doing good work in visiting nursing homes, sponsoring scholarships, supporting local food closets and hosting a Unity Day Breakfast every year on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Always remember that we are standing on the shoulder of those who came before us. Let’s honor their memory by keeping Alpha Kappa Alpha a beacon of hope in this world we live in.”

Entertainment at Saturday’s overflow gathering was provided by the Lambda Zeta Omega Ensemble. They include Mary Allen, Mary Banks, Etta Billingslea, Rennie Sherrie Core, Cantrece Nelson and Norman Williams. Accompanied by LaShandra Banks Knox on piano, they sang “Thank you, Jesus, for Blessing Me” and “My Hallelujah Belongs to You.”

In introducing Haygood, Lambda Zeta Omega golden soror, said that fewer than 1,000 African-American students were enrolled in higher education when Alpha Kappa Alpha was founded in 1908. The 16 founding members, she said, were true trailblazers for what was to follow.

“Alpha Kappa Alpha helped raise the lifestyle for young black women,” she said. “For years, the organization worked collaboratively with other groups in promoting progressive issues. We stand and serve to make a difference in the world. Today’s members advance the same tenets our founders wanted. We are now basking in the glow of Alpha pink and green. From our hearts to yours, thank you for joining our celebration today.”

A candle lighting took place honoring the memory of the 16 founding members.

Chapter President Bessie Jackson said that she was pleased with Saturday’s turnout and with the program.

“I want to thank all the visiting chapters for being with us today,” she said. “I think we are all committed to continue serving in our chapters and improving our communities.”