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Fortitude in the Face of Adversity: Delta Sigma Theta's History of Racial Uplift

76 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2017  

Gregory Scott Parks

Wake Forest University - School of Law

Marcia Hernandez

University of the Pacific (UOP) - College of the Pacific

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Parks, Gregory Scott and Hernandez, Marcia, Fortitude in the Face of Adversity: Delta Sigma Theta's History of Racial Uplift (2016). Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal, vol XIII, Summer 2016 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3004050

Gregory Parks (Contact Author)

Wake Forest University - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 7206
Winston-Salem, NC 27109
United States
3367582170 (Phone)

Marcia Hernandez

University of the Pacific (UOP) - College of the Pacific ( email )

Stockton, CA 95211
United States

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