Friday, July 18, 2008

Past is Prologue

This week in Washington, DC, approximately 35,000 women participated in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.'s centennial celebration. Often, when I think about the stability and endurance of this sorority, I am amazed. One hundred years ago, in the face of discrimination, Jim Crow, lynchings and educational apartheid among other life-changing struggles, young women like Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, Lillie Burke, and Lucy Diggs Slowe had the courage and insight to start an organization that would ultimately attract over 200,000 college-educated women. Not only that, the organization would last for an hundred years. In a Women's Studies course I once took, I learned that men respect the things that men build because they are lasting--buildings, bridges, societies--but not so much what women produce because it is temporal--life, for example. AKA is an example of women producing that which lasts. And when one considers that these were young women--college students--the age of those that I teach and sometimes throw my hands up and wonder about, I am humbled. Steel Magnolia says that we should not count out the young. AKA's founders are examples of why we shouldn't.

This achievement gives me pause and at this pivotal point in our history, I am honored to be a part of this legacy.

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