Fortitude in the Face of Adversity: Delta Sigma Theta's History of Racial Uplift
76 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2017
Date Written: 2016
Black Greek-Letter Organization (BGLO) scholarship presents a long-standing involvement of fraternity and sorority engagement in civil rights, philanthropy and community service. Although scholars have praised Black Greek-Letter Organizations for their commitment to community empowerment, literacy advancement, Black women’s involvement in politics, and racial uplift, some scholarship suggests a critical examination of BGLOs is required. Arguing that BGLOs tend to focus on traditional forms of advocacy, there is a risk of becoming irrelevant in the contemporary landscape of social justice movements and African-American social and political organizations.
In this Article, we examine the historical organizational efforts by one BGLO, Delta Sigma Theta, to influence local communities and national policy for social justice. Delta Sigma Theta boasts one of the largest memberships among BGLO sororities. The organization has a long, storied history of civic engagement and political activism. By examining relevant scholarship and historical records, such as sorority newsletters, we assess how Delta Sigma Theta members have employed a variety of collective action strategies at both the local level within individual chapters, and at the national level, to be a force for change in society. We conclude with a discussion of the importance of linking past accomplishments to current civic engagement strategies and social justice movements as sorority members address the needs of their local communities and participate in national movements in the 21st century.
Keywords: Black Greek-Letter Organization, BGLO, fraternity, soroity, civil rights, civic engagement
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