"When I look at you I see myself. . ."
~ Lillian P. Benbow
One hundred and one years ago today, twenty two super courageous college women leaned in. That's exactly what they did. They looked at what was going on around them politically, socially and economically. And then they asked the hard questions.
"If not me, then who? If not now, then when?"
The year was 1913. And, I'm just saying, it wasn't exactly the easiest time for black women--or women period. We couldn't vote. Laws limited us from doing the things our hearts desired and that our talents warranted. Which, if you have knocked down a bunch of walls to even set one foot in a college, kind of stinks.
So yeah. The twenty two women who founded Delta Sigma Theta Sorority back in 1913 were what many of us would roll our eyes at and call "children." Under the legal drinking age. And pretty limited in their life experiences.
They knew right from wrong. They knew oppression from expression. And so. They organized and formed what is now over 300,000 members strong. And one of their very first endeavors? A march through the middle of Washington D.C. protesting the fact that women could not vote.
How do you think that was met? With cheers? Try again. More like venomous jeers and hocked up wads of spit. Yes. Spit. Lougies. Phlegm. At them. On them. Yes.
This is the part that always makes me shake my head in awe. I mean, I remember being twenty. And I also remember when my linesisters in my pledge class were around that age, too. And I don't think all of us put together were mature enough or bold enough to keep walking with our heads held high whilst being called "NIGRA" or "GAL" and definitely not able to hold back the can of whoop ass from the person who hocked up the disgusting pellet of bubbly slobber that just hit one of us in the face or arm.
Awww hells naw.
Imagine the courage that took. And the vision, too. To go against the grain. To walk with a purpose for something bigger than each of them individually to create something meaningful collectively. And you know what? It did. That act made a difference.
So with our twenty two unflappable and fearless Founders on my mind, I wish every single Delta woman that I know a very happy 101st anniversary. I hope you paused to reflect on how amazing their program planning was to be so young and how effective, too. We come from good stock.
Deanna loved Founders Day. She really, really did. Every year, she'd send me a hand made card for Founders Day. Sometimes it would have an elephant stamped on it. Other times she'd hand write the names of all twenty two Founders. And every year, like clockwork, she sent it. Because this? This was a Deanna Day. She loved our sorority and cherished any chance to celebrate it.
And so. This morning I woke up and, of course, put on my red. I opened up my ritual and read our oath. . .savoring each line. And then, I dug into my box of Deanna's Delta treasures. I settled on a small African violet floret and a button that I know was a favorite of hers. I proudly pinned it to the lapel of my white coat and wore it all day long.
I heard from sorority sisters from near and far. My phone buzzed over and over again like it always does on January 13. "Happy Founders Day!" "Remember the 22!" and even "#DST101". I cherished each and every one of them just as she would.
Okay, maybe not some of the massively massive group ones, but still. Ha. It was all good. And nice to get the love.
All that Delta love got me t'thinking. Thinking about what's so cool about being a Delta and about some of my favorite Delta moments. Matter of fact, I wrote a little list about it.
Like to hear it? Here it go!
I bring you:
THE TOP TWENTY-TWO REASONS WHY IF I WASN'T A DELTA, I WOULD SURE WISH THAT I WAS. OR WERE. OH HECK! YOU GET THE PICTURE.
(Don't worry, I'll make them snappy.)
#22 We always seem to hold the best offices in most organizations.
|With Yolanda W. in med school, 1994 as student Leaders.|
Not kidding. For as long as I can remember, in med school, college and beyond, the Deltas always managed to have the gavel and the purse. Read: the presidency and the treasury.
#21 Red is a power color.
Who doesn't feel great with a ruby lip? Or a sassy red dress? Or even some red pumps?
Whenever I want to feel fierce? I put on red. And when I want to feel ultra-fierce? I turn to my red patent leather pumps. They give me LIFE, chile! LIFE!
*insert finger snaps*
#20 Speaking of red being an awesome color -- ever think of asking Louboutin why he didn't choose blue or pink for his legendary shoes?
Just sayin'. Red is fierce.
|"Oui oui, red is pretty much awesome. I mean, magnifique!"|
And don't crack any jokes about the red being on the bottom of the shoe. You know you love 'em. And you know if you own a pair they give you LIFE!
*insert finger snaps*
#19 Deltas are about the business. Period. End of story.
#18 Deltas hold a lot of leadership positions in our hospital.
|with Yolanda W., 2013 as faculty leaders|
Hey. Students. Residents. Listen up! Let me name a few of the ones here just to make my point:
Dr. Higgins. (Gen Med-Emory)
Dr. Flowers. (OB/GYN-Emory)
Dr. Manning. (Gen Med-Emory)
Dr. Bond. (Assoc. Dean GME-Emory)
Dr. Montgomery Rice. (Dean - Morehouse)
Dr. Wimberly. (Designated Institutional Official-Dean of GME-Morehouse)
And that's not even the FULL list. Oh, and trust. It's like that everywhere.
Mmm hmmmm. Yeah, I said it.
Ha. (My AKA friends are SO gonna kill me. . . .)
#17 We get political.
|Carol Mosely Braun.|
Deltas run for political offices. And they win. Then they serve.
#16 We're run things. Like, literally.
#15 We're fun.
#14 We're the sisters to the Omegas. And a lot of us get to marry them, too.
|Three Omega-Delta unions. :)|
#13 We had the BEST Centennial Celebration of all of the organizations.
#12 Wait. I meant we had the best Centennial CELEBRATIONS of all of the organizations.
Because we had the foresight to organize an official celebratory weekend for our actual 100th anniversary in January of 2013 and then another awesome follow up at the July convention. Both of which were AWESOME.
#11 When the clock struck midnight on January 13, 2013, thousands of us from all over the world had returned to Howard University to be there.
And all of those voices rang our over that entire campus and filled that midnight air like nothing I've ever heard before.
It still gives me chills when I think about it.
#10 Dorothy Height.
Our tenth National President. And just an amazing woman. I was awestruck when we met. That look on her face is because she was thinking, "Calm yo' azz down!"
#9 There were 12 Deltas in my medical school class. Twelve! And we were all student leaders.
#8 Our sweetheart song is awesome.
#7 The brothers love the Deltas.
#6 Some of my favorite women just happen to be Deltas. Which is quite convenient.
#5 My linesisters from Gamma Tau Spring '92.
What a pledge class, man. There was just a lot of talent on that line. And we are making a difference.
Oh yeah--and we KILLED it for our twentieth anniversary. KILLED it.
#4 My chapter sorors from Gamma Tau--all of them.
|Gamma Tau 65th Charter Anniversary Party in Atlanta|
My chapter of initiation at Tuskegee University is the Gamma Tau Chapter. And you know? It's just a great group of women. Smart, hardworking, and beautiful. I'm so proud to be from Gamma Tau.
#3 When I encounter really awesome college-educated black women--more often than not--I later learn that they are Deltas. (See #18)
So, so true.
#2 I identify with Deltas.
I just do.
And you know? A lot of it comes down to that. I'd be totally lying if I said that my dear friends who are members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Zeta Phi Beta, Sigma Gamma Rho, or any other sorority aren't doing very important things to impact the community and the world. Of course they are. And, of course, they too share tight bonds of sisterhood.
But honestly? A lot of us agree that there's just. . . I don't know. . . sort of a vibe with all of the organizations. It's hard to put a finger on but it's true. And I'd say that when I pledged Delta. . . .I got it right. It was a good fit for me.
Seriously though. One of the greatest comforts to me after losing my sweet sissy was the fact that we shared Delta. And not only did we share it as members, we were in the same chapter together. Our time in the Stone Mountain-Lithonia Alumnae Chapter remains special in ways I can't even express. And the way those women came to our aid? Man.
After Dad cleaned out Deanna's garage, we found this gift that I'd made for Deanna several years back. I think it was her fifth anniversary in Delta. And since she was all about handmade gifts and sentiment when it came to sorority celebrations, I knew I'd need to get crafty.
And so. I bought this mirror at Michaels or Hobby Lobby or something. And I painted it red. Then I added an excerpt from one of her favorite Delta quotes.
"When I look at you, I see myself.
If my eyes are unable to see you as my sister,
it is because my own vision is blurred.
And if that be so, then it is I who need you
either because I do not understand who you are, my sister,
or because I need you to help me understand who I am."
Lillian P. Benbow,
Lillian P. Benbow,
Past National President
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
And she loved it. She truly, truly loved it.
And you know what? I knew she would.
I guess that's a good place to end this. Because that quote embodies much of my relationships not only with my Delta sisters but many of my sisterfriends period.
And that? That's something worth celebrating.
Happy 101st Founders Day. May your hearts be filled with joy and your souls inspired by the courage and vision shown by the twenty two women who took that first step toward where we are today.
By the way: Here is the January Centennial Post. And here is the July Centennial Post.
Thought I'd repost this from our Centennial Convention since the song from it is playing on my mental iPod.
Centennial - A song for love from Kimberly Manning on Vimeo.