Saturday, July 20, 2013

We wrote a song for love.

I thirst but never quench

I know the consequence, feeling as I do

We're in a spinning top
where, tell me, will it stop

and what am I to say?

Open our music book, that only few can look
and I'll write a song for you

Love is a symphony, hearts in one melody
'Cause I write a song for you

Sounds never dissipate, they only recreate
in another place

There in your silent night
joy of a song's delight

I write a song for you

You write a song for me

We write a song of love

For love.

~ Earth, Wind, and Fire


Whelp. We came, we saw, and damn it, we conquered. After so, so many years of anticipation, finally the big Centennial Convention arrived. (Not to be confused with the January Centennial Weekend which was also totally unforgettable.) We pumped over 70 million dollars into the D.C. economy while dancing, singing, celebrating and reflecting on the one hundred years of scholarship, service and sisterhood our sorority has brought to the world. 

And okay. That "over 70 million dollar" stat came from T.C. the Taxi Cab Driver, but still. I liked the authority with which he told me that and several other things. I also liked the fact that he said that he personally was blessed by Delta Sigma Theta coming to celebrate. 

"How did we bless you?" I asked him from the back seat.

"Y'all Deltas ain't cheap. And y'all tip good," he told me. 

D.C.'s finest cabbie

That made me smile. Partly because I hoped it was true. But also because it was a genius way for T.C. to get me to live up to that truth. Little did he know that he had me at "T.C." That was my grandfather's initials and nickname. Add to that the fact that he followed that up with "for TAXI CAB." What was there not to love? Seriously? Seriously.

Wait. Where was I? 

The Convention. Yeah, that's it. I'm sorry, y'all. I just love people so I get easily sidetracked. Plus I super-hearted T.C. because he reminded me of the Grady elders. In fact, I super-hearted him so much that I took his number and called him to take Jada and I back to the airport all the way in Baltimore. 

And we tipped him good. Mmmmm hmmm.

Although my road dogs for the weekend were my Tuskegee linesisters and chapter sorors, I still traveled to and from the convention with my partner in crime, Jada R. She had plans to link up with her own Memphis State (now University of Memphis) chapter sisters but we travel so well together that we made sure to share seats on our flights on the legs up and back. 

The cool thing about being a Delta is that after awhile everyone's initiation families just sort of blend together. For the January Centennial weekend, I was with Jada and the Memphis crew. We are literally all old friends so it was great. 

The same could be said about my chapter sorority sisters and Jada. Joy and Marra, my linesisters who roomed with me and shared the same flight, also go way back with Jada. 

I guess Delta is a continuum like that. 

The energy was palpable. These two sorors were waiting in the airport to greet us and welcome us to the celebration. Man. We flew into Baltimore -- not even D.C. -- and still had the red carpet rolled out for us. I really loved that. 

I knew right then and there that it would be a magical experience.

And how happy was I to arrive at the hotel and see this girl? This is Falona. She is my linesister but also yet another example of the Delta continuum I was talking about.

Falona and I have known each other since we were only eight years old. Her parents and my father graduated from high school together in Birmingham, Alabama back in 1961. Falona's mom then went on to attend Tuskegee with Poopdeck. 

And did I mention? Falona's mom is a Delta. And her dad is not only one of Poopdeck's oldest friends--he's also an Omega, too. 

Tuskegee alums--Poopdeck and Barb (Falona's mom)

Yeah. So Falona flew in from Denver and it was like old times. 

Lawd. Have. Mercy. Was it ever.

And so. I bet some of you wonder what exactly happens at something like this. Like. . .why on earth would a bunch of grown women leave their kids and husbands behind to go and frolic around at a . . .wait. . .sorority convention? 

I'll tell you what I can tell you. 'Cause if I told it all, you couldn't even handle it. Ha ha ha. . . .

It started with a beautiful welcome from our National President, Cynthia M.A. Butler-McIntyre. You can't tell from this still just how unbelievably amazing this woman is but just know that she is. I am especially enamored by her because Deanna thought the world of her. In fact, I met her a while back at a Delta program long before she was National President. When Deanna saw the photo I snapped of her, she flipped. She said, "Some day she is going to be National President, and when she is I am going to be HYPED." 

I'm so happy Dee lived to be hyped about the day that she did take that office. 

So very.

So what do we do? I guess the best way for you to understand it all is to get what it is we are about. Delta Sigma Theta is a public service sorority. We are committed to scholarship, service, and sisterhood. And so. The official parts of our convention had a lot to do with that. Celebrating scholarship and professional achievements. Putting our heads together about the social needs of our communities and ways to take our programs to the next level. 

And, of course, fellowshipping and really just being immersed in the continuum that we call Delta Sigma Theta sisterhood.

We really relished in all of that. We did. And I especially paid attention not only to my linesisters and good friends around me, but the ones I didn't know. Deanna was always on my mind the whole time and she cared about things like that. She liked sisterly acts and meeting new sorors. She loved dissecting their stories and folding a piece of their journey into her own. 

"Because Delta is a journey, not a destination," she used to say to me.


And so. I met people. Like this mother and daughter who had traveled from Los Angeles and, I think, Illinois to share in this historic celebration together. I teased mama about her green sweater and she just chuckled. I loved seeing them there together and also the similarities in their faces.

That line was super duper long for the registration packets. That's where I met these two. It dawned on us that the mama was what we call a "Delta Dear" -- the more seasoned of our sorority sisters. I'm glad I got her picture before she left us younguns in the dust. (Our Dears get V.I.P. treatment BIGtime.)

I ran into this sweet soror who told me she pledged my sister. Hugging her made me feel connected to Deanna. So that part was pretty awesome.

And you know? I have to say that this blog has been a real blessing because there were people who were able to recognize me just from this little piece of cyberspace. And a lot of those sisters knew or knew of Deanna. 

Which just added to the continuum. 

Of course, some silliness was involved. Since we were catching cabs and riding trains everywhere, all we needed was a "designated purse holder." Of course we didn't get too outrageous. . .but we officially had permission to be a little more ridiculous than our usual. . .ahem. . . serious selves. That meant dancing like no one was watching. And singing like nobody was in earshot. 

Pretty much every Delta I know that pledged as a collegiate had some kind of reunion with sorority sisters from their chapters of initiation. For me, that meant some GOOD TIMES with the girls from the Gamma Tau Chapter of Tuskegee University. 

I kind of think this was one of my favorite parts of the whole celebration. There was a CRAP-TON of us in D.C. which made me feel so super proud. We had special t-shirts made and we all convened at the Carnegie Library for a photo and some old school shenanigans. 

Of course, we had to take a few pictures of our lines (pledge classes.) The instruction on this one was to "look fierce." (I may or may not have been responsible for that request.)

Ha ha ha!

I met a lot of my younger chapter sorors and was delighted to learn that they are all equally as fun-loving as we were back in Spring of '92. 

I also met some more sho' nuff fun Gamma Tau girls who'd pledged in the seventies and before. Turns out that being wild and crazy didn't start with our pledge class. 

At one point we erupted into a big, wild, cheering pack of Tuskegee Delta girls on those library steps. Folks were driving by and honking horns and snapping photos. It was pretty amazing.


So the continuum just kept on going. Every few steps was a reunion of smiles, joy, and shared experiences. Glances were knowing and telling. Hugs were tight and genuine. And all of it made me just so proud to be a Delta.

Man. It was so much fun. And the whole time, I kept on saying to my linesisters the same thing Jada and I said back in January. "I am SO GLAD I AM HERE!!" Because it was true.

Then. Just when it seemed like we could not possibly have any more fun than we were already having and like things just could NOT have possibly have been more memorable. . . .

My linesister Ebony showed up. 

Ebony could possibly be one of the most naturally funny people I have ever met. Whatever you do with Ebony automatically is fun just because she's there. Eb has a way of turning the most mundane event into a LOL moment that you talk about for years.

Kind of like when this gust of wind blew through the Metro station and she went into to full on Marilyn Monroe. And perhaps you had to be there, but just know that it was really, really funny.

And just when THAT seemed like more excitement than we could handle, our other linesister Tanya came--all the way from AFRICA where she now lives. How awesome is that?

And that? Now that was just super, duper awesome.

Which reminds me. 

When we had Deanna's Homegoing Celebration back in December, Tanya was unable to make it. Although we are linesisters, we are also very good friends and it pained her to not be able to come. She was living in Orlando at the time and it was just too hard to work it out with a child preparing to go off to college (which was her situation.) Though she couldn't come, Tanya recorded and uploaded a video to YouTube with a message just for me. She was wearing her black and her Delta symbols. It was one of the most moving gestures I've ever seen in my life.

Well. As the continuum of Delta works, Tanya was there for the Centennial Convention. And you know what? She was the linesister right by my side as I wept and wept through the ceremonial Memorial Observance for deceased sorors. She rubbed my back and wiped my cheeks. She squeezed my hand and kept saying, "It's okay. Go ahead and cry, big girl." So it felt safe when I did just that.

And you know what? That ceremony was hard. Very hard. 

I pinned Deanna's violet corsage to my heart for its final wearing. We often leave a deceased sorority sister with a violet but since we didn't do a whole open casket thing, I never had the chance to do that for Deanna.

I knew that I would retire that one after the Centennial Memorial Observance and then put it into a special keepsake box. Deanna made that corsage with her own hands (and glue gun. . .ha ha.) For me, I knew that this would be symbolic closure. But I especially thought about how much it would mean to Deanna.

Man. When I unpinned that violet from my chest? Whew. Broke. Down. Do you hear me?

But that's okay because I had an army of sorors surrounding me in support. In addition to my LS Tanya being with me, I was also lucky enough to have my current chapter president and friend, Sabrina, as well as two of Deanna's very best soror-friends, Deborah C. and Crystal H. 

And would you believe that Crystal presented me with a new violet corsage? I cried when she gave it to me. I cried again later, too.

with Crystal H.

My new violet from Crystal

With Deb

They called Deanna's name. And I swear to you it felt like someone was clawing and ripping my heart straight out of my chest at that moment. But as crazy as that sounds, it also felt. . .I don't know. . .like such an important moment. I needed that. I needed that in our Delta relationship.

Oh. And I almost forgot -- I also brought Deanna's chapter badge from when she was in Northern Virginia Alumnae Chapter and gave it to Angela F., one of her special soror-friends.  Angela is still in Northern Virginia and was so, so good to me when my sister first passed and beyond. We have become friends in our own right. We both loved Deanna so that connected us even more than our sorority ties. 

Man. Seeing the light and love in Angela's eyes when I handed that badge to her did my heart such good.

Damn, it did. 

You know? There were parts of the Memorial where we saw the National officers visibly moved. Moved when names were spoken and memories stirred up. That told me that no matter how old we get or how "big deal" we seem that hearts are hearts. Sisters are sisters. And love is just love. That's one of my favorite parts of the continuum.


I met these two Delta Dears while having breakfast near the convention center one morning. They had never attended a convention apart. They were actually blood sisters and the older sister was in the middle of chemo for breast cancer. 

We ended up dining together and they told me all about what she'd gone through. The younger sister talked to me about her fear of not being with her sister at this convention or period. And then they asked me if I had any sisters who were Deltas. And even though I'd been doing well for the whole time in D.C., that was a moment besides the Memorial Observance that I went into the ugly cry. 

And you know? Those Delta Dears were dear to me. They were. They wrapped their arms around me and protected me. They listened to me talk about my sweet sissy and they nodded and asked questions. And all of that part was really good. 

And a part of the continuum.

Deanna always said that she couldn't wait  to be a "Delta Dear." I told them that, too. It made me cry to say that but they got it. They did. 

Sister-Dears with matching rings and manicures

And before I forget. . . .

This was the Centennial Convention Commemorative book. And would you believe that a collection of sorors from all over the country put their money together to get this beautiful tribute page to Deanna? And let me just say that those pages. . . .uhhh. . .let's just say that they weren't cheap. But maybe T.C. was right when he said the Deltas weren't cheap. Ha ha ha. Seriously, though. . . .a number of those sorors had never even met my sister face to face. Yet they were compelled to honor her in this way.

And you know? I don't even know who did this really. I swear to you I don't.  I know that I didn't do it. Nor did our chapter of affiliation. So when I turned that page and saw that photograph of Deanna in that journal. . . I just. . . yeah. It was a lot. But I just want any of those sorors reading this to hear me when I say this:

Words cannot express what this meant to me. They cannot. I will treasure this page and this gesture always. And will never forget what you did for as long as I live.

Again, a part of this lovely continuum.

Gosh. I'm realizing that I could just go on and on. So let me just share a few photos because they can tell it with more brevity but just as much feeling.

This woman in the center pledged at Tuskegee--and so did her three daughters (two pictured)

This is more of the continuum. And just know that this is just through my lens. Multiply this by several thousand equally rich individual experiences and you will know what it was like.

I guess the best way I can put it is like the words of that song.  For one hundred years we have been doing our best to be world changers through leadership and service. But as much as this was all about that, it was about the song we've written together. A song about thirst that never quenches and hearts united in a symphony with one melody.

And yeah. Maybe for me a lot of this was about Deanna and our shared bond through Delta. And yeah, some parts were bittersweet. But mostly? It was sweet. Because now more than ever I know what I love so much about being a Delta. 

That I--along with my beloved sister--got to share in this multipart harmony and that this celebration was simply a beautiful reminder of the song we wrote for love.

And the song that we will continue to sing forever more.


Happy Saturday.

First, this. . . the song on my mental iPod. . . . along with a little iMovie that I hope takes you by the hand and pulls you into my part of this Centennial Celebration. Honestly, I made this video because it's something Deanna would have liked. Making it felt good. I hope it feels as good to watch as it did to make.

Centennial - A song for love from Kimberly Manning on Vimeo.

And then. . . this. . . .the true embodiment of the continuum of the song we've written for love and the everything I love about being a Delta. I'm so fortunate to be a part of this especially in this way.

Thank you, T. I will cherish this for the rest of my life--I will. I needed to put it here for when I need to come back to these memories. I love hearing your voice and knowing that I was able to grant Deanna (and you) this wish by being there for the Centennial. I'm so lucky to be your linesister. 'Preciate you, big girl.


  1. From the deck of the Poop,

    A tear run down the side of my face. My big girl should have been there!!!


    1. She was, Poopdeck. She was.

      I love you.

    2. Hey Kim,

      I enjoyed this section - seeing you and Falona and the pictures of my girl (my sister) Deanna!
      My baby sister, Latisha, was down in DC with you - she pledged DELTA in '92 (I'm so proud of her). Plus she just got her Doctoral degree and got married in June. My best girls are all DST.

      Love you Kim and miss you!


  2. What a wonderful recap, Kim! It took me about 30 minutes to get myself together and reply. What love and emotion you put into this blog. You are one of the sweetest and most loving Sorors I know. Just connecting with you after Deanna's passing has meant a great deal to me. You are so loving and caring ... and just an amazing person! Your blogs bring me the best knowledge. I think differently ... I smile differently. You are an angel! I love you to pieces. Thanks for letting me spend some time with you at the memorial. It meant everything, and I will cherish Deanna's pin forever!!!

    Angela F.

    1. Soror Angela, I so appreciate you. Thank you so much for being who you are. You are exactly the kind of Delta that Deanna always pushed people to be. You, too, are an angel. I mean that.


  3. Just amazing. I know you missed Deanna but she was there in you and in the love she so inspired in everyone. What a sublime communion of powerful loving joyous women! I wish I'd known enough as a young woman to pledge. And Delta Dears? What a beautiful honoring. All of it, extraordinary. I looked forward to your sharing of this and am so humbled and awed by this window. Thank you.

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed this. I love showing aspects of our sorority that make it less cryptic and confusing, you know. It is rooted in love. And all things rooted in love grow into something beautiful.

      Thank you.

  4. What a loving tribute to sisterhood, both Greek and biologic. We call our older sisters Golden Arrows (members 50 yrs or longer) but there were not as many there as were at your convention. We have to work on that! You really touched my heart. I am so glad I could remember Deanna in a small way at our convention. I have the halo to benefit literacy right here with me and will mail it to you if you would like it.

    1. You are so wonderful, Mary Alice. I just needed to say that.

  5. Everything about this is beautiful, and I'm happy that you and Deanna are a part of a group that's so full of love.

    1. I am so happy we got to do this together. She was the very best Delta I have ever known. Thanks for reading that -- it was long! Ha ha ha!

  6. Oh I just cried on and off through this post. I am happy to see such sisterhood and that you got to experience a centennial celebration. But, my heart breaks for you at the loss you felt for your sweet sister. And then the dedication page for her...and her corsage. Too much, I tell you! It was a beautiful memorial for someone who is gone way too young. God bless you Dr. Manning!

    1. Yeah. Some cries feel good, you know? I reread this and watched the video again this morning and wept all through it. But it felt good.

      God bless you, Christie.

  7. Wow...Kim, that was such a BEAUTIFUL recap of your Centennial Celebration. It was so touching. It is so wonderful to see all of the Gamma Tau ladies sharing those special moments together. You girls awesome!


    1. Awww, hey sweet girl! I know you saw all those familiar faces and smiled. We had a lovely time. So good to hear from you and hope you are well.

  8. Love is just love...oh yes it is! part of team look fantastic!

    1. Ha haha! Thanks!! I had ordered that tank top and was thinking. . .hmmmm should I have done that? Ha ha ha!

  9. Your love for Deanna and the Deltas shine. beautifully written.

    1. Thank you for saying that. I want the world to know that about me because it's true.

  10. Gosh, so much emotion!! You have an amazing ability to take your reader with you. So, first of all, totally envious that I'm not a soror. What a sisterhood!! How incredibly special. I never pledged a sorority because I was in my 30's, married with 4 kids when I went back and got my degree, but I don't know of any sorority that is as close as you all seem to be.

    Now, as for the fierce photo, I had to LOL that lady behind you has the fierce look down pat!! I swear I could see her giving someone the stink eye in her life and getting stuff done! I have an aunt that can give the best stink eye! I just look like a cranky old hag so it's totally ineffective. :)

    Deanna. What a blessing to have her honored in such a beautiful and sentimental way. She has left such a legacy. I know I don't know you and I didn't know her, but if my sister felt about me like you speak of Deanna and honored me the way that you have honored her memory, I would be so incredibly touched. I'm certain she's proud of you. You honored he well.

    1. You know, Julie? These are the kinds of things Deanna did for others. So I learned from the best. She was very good at making you feel cherished. I just try to do things she would have liked. I know that she would have wanted me to put a lot of effort into this post. And I was up late editing that video and I smiled because I knew that I had to get it just right to meet Deanna's standard. We call doing super-creative and sweet things "putting some Dee on it." So I had to put some Dee on it. I'm glad you noticed that I did.

      xo, Kimberly

  11. GOD, I loved this post . Literally, I had shivers as I read it.
    So glad it was amazing and then some.

    Maria, fellow Meharrian

    1. Awww, thanks my friend. It was amazing and I'm glad you could feel that. I heard the AKA 100th in 2008 was also magical. Did you make it? My BFF is an AKA and she did.

      Kimberly, fellow Meharrian

  12. I never met Deanna face to face but I think she may have been just as happy for me when I crossed as I was and gave me some great advice that I pass on to others now when they enter the sisterhood. Your sister was indeed a delight and never failed to share a good joke, advice or start a new craze with those apples and I don't even like apples that much. It is odd not having her presence around even though it is remembered by many each day. Some of us will try to keep the Team Creamy Crack and Team No Chaser moments alive for everyone who wasn't blessed to know her. Your recap was great as usual and I appreciate so much that you were able to share the good, the not as good and the blessings that came from convention.

    Rosalyn not a Meharrian but I went to that little school across the road from it.

  13. Simply Beautiful!! You captured so much of the emotion that I know we all felt while were there. I am sure Deanna was enjoying it from above and at times probably beside you too! Nice to meet you as well.

    DST Always and Forever,
    Tammi (from Denver)

  14. Thank you for the heads up...I needed a tissue.

    Undercover Punk ;-)

  15. these words, these pictures, these feelings are exactly what I love so much about our illustrious sisterhood. I love that there is a Delta Sigma Theta to serve as the ties that bind us together. Deanna was a great person; I don't have to tell you that because you know it. She was loved by many; you also know that. Your parents, your family, did a great job. She knew how to show love to others.

    For me the centennial was something that I am so thankful I was able to experience. I am thankful for the love and comfort that you could find in the arms of our sisters.

  16. What a gorgeous collection of strong, beautiful women who are powerful in their sisterhood. This was amazing. And the tributes to your sister- tearfully perfect.
    I am so grateful to have been introduced to your tribe of Deltas whom I NEVER would have known about if not for you. What an amazing culture to be a part of. You are blessed in this. I know you know.

  17. I am so glad you have this vehicle to love and share [and vent] and show the world your beauty. This was absolutely awesome. God bless you and your family. I know Deanna is proud.

    Ayanna C.

  18. I cried and cried and ruined my good Sunday makeup. I have never known sisterhood. I didn't pledge in college and am an only child. I live in DC. I was so fascinated by the eight million (give or take a few) brown women who swarmed my city last weekend. Thank you for sharing your unique experience.

  19. Beautiful. Powerful. Emotional. Courageous.

    Not sure what else to say ... But ... after reading this blog for the second time .. I still hear that spiritual about the circle being unbroken playing in my mind. That circle you share with your beloved sister Deanna is MIGHTY Kimberly. So mighty! (By and by ...)

    Your strength is a testimony to the awesome power of love, family and sisterhoood. Wishing you and yours blessings, peace and the best of everything.

    Nicole Avery Nichols, #56

  20. Wow Soror! My heart is very heavy.... but thank you for sharing your love of your sister... A beautiful spirit!!! I am usually not void of words... I am now! Thank you for sharing your bond, your true connection... SISTERHOOD!!!
    May the Lord continue to Bless you and strengthen you as each day passes! Sending lots of HUGS!!!

  21. This was a beautiful recap!!! I saw you in DC on Friday night but couldn't get to you to love on you. I'm so glad that I had the pleasure in knowing Deanna and am extremely thankful to you all for sharing her with us. Know that you and your family continue to be in my prayers!

  22. Beautiful! God Bless You Always!

  23. I hope I don't start a sorrority war with this comment(assuming it gets published), but reading this post and looking at who all my close friends are (ALL Deltas) reminds me of why I hadn't felt particularly compelled to follow my family's tradition of "pink and green". I was living in metro DC in 2008 and I remember that convention. The Delta's from what I've heard from people still living in the area, were friendly, kind, and approachable during their convention. Absolutely the most fabulous ladies I know!

  24. You captured such great memories of our centennial celebration. May the memories of your sister comfort you forever and always. My sister and I were initiated together in 2010, during centennial she served as an alternate delegate. I am so used to us doing everything together when celebrating Delta and this was the first time that I felt strange without her sharing a room, attending events and just hanging out. I know the bond that you speak of. From one sister to another your sister lives in you. Although we have never met, I thank you for introducing us to Deanna, the words spoken of her lives through your vibrant smile and spirit captured above. Be blessed soror.

    Tempe Alumnae

  25. Wow. I envy you and the friendships you have from college.

  26. My beautiful Sorors!!

    Thanks for posting this, I felt like I was there a little bit. :-)

    The Delta Continuum...absolutely love that phrase!



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