A change had to come!
The year was 1912. Twenty-two undaunted souls stood strong, ignoring the two uncontrollable strikes against them—gender and race, and forged towards the horizon of reform. The actions of these Black college-educated women had nothing to do with honor or prestige. Yet, it had everything to do with the transformation of women in the 20th century towards the platform of social activism and public service. Little did they realize then, but their courage and unyielding faith, on the doorsteps of Howard University on January 13, 1913 would birth a renaissance. Almost ninety-seven years later, their unselfish act for change has weaved its way into the hearts and souls of over 200,000 women from around the world who proudly call themselves Deltas and has opened the doors for countless others. Eventually, it will seep deep, like marrow in the bone to future generations.
What is change? It is fundamentally, and by far, the most difficult aspect for humans to accept in life. Why? The wall of familiarity is torn down. The rock solid foundation of comfort shatters like a pane of glass. Security, contentment, and the proverbial status quo capsizes into a vast ocean of newness. The ardent task of facing criticism hovers above and the fear of placing the former aside takes center stage.
I remember the day I received the revisions for WHEN I’M WITH YOU, the first manuscript I’d completed as though it were yesterday. It was a cold, rainy January evening when I returned home from what could only be described as a contentious meeting with a group of research colleagues. Tired, hungry and in need of two extra-strength Tylenol, I spotted a large brown envelope perched against my front door. After pulling out all three-hundred plus pages of what would become my debut novel, I cried. Page after page of the story I’d poured my blood, sweat and tears into, the story, which had already gone through six revisions, was covered with red ink. Too weary to care, I resignedly placed the manuscript aside along with the editor’s revision letter and headed off to bed.
The dawning of a new day ushered in a change. Once I thoroughly read the revision letter, I better understood the modifications my editor had suggested. Faced with a seven-day deadline, I worked feverously and never once questioned her recommendations. Confidence steered me towards the goal I’d sought for, prayed for, the last four years. Those changes catapulted me into the literary arena. Fourteen months later, I was the recipient of the 2008 Romance Slam Jam Emma Award for Debut Author of the Year for WHEN I’M WITH YOU.
Change can be a good thing, but only if you’re willing to accept the struggles it brings.
Osceola, Marguerite, Winona, Ethel, Bertha, Zephyr, Edna, Jessie, Frederica, Myra, Olive, Jimmie, Pauline, Vashti, Naomi, Mamie, Eliza, Florence, Ethel, Wertie, Madree and Edith not only accepted the struggles they faced, they relished them. Twenty-two women fought for change. Twenty-two women accepted and endured criticism, but twenty-two women went a little further.
Alone, but never lonely, the Founders of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., cried out to the All Mighty God. He heard their pleas. Covered by His grace and anchored on the wings of mercy, they embraced the belief God had rooted in their spirits. With whispered prayers of faith filtering past their lips, they cast away all doubts. Their reward was a new-found strength, an empowerment for hope that a change was on the way. Never once did they falter, but sprinted toward the mark of a higher calling. In the end, the gang of twenty-two created a 20th century renaissance.
Tell me, what change will you offer the next generation?
Until next time, stay well and be blessed!
Soror LaConnie Taylor-Jones
Osceola Macarthy Adams
A member of the Repertory Playhouse Associates of New York as a student and actress, Osceola Adams also taught dramatics at Bennett College in North Carolina and was the Directress of the Harlem School of the Arts. Osceola Archer (stage name) directed the theatrical debutes of Sidney Pointier and Harry Belafonte.