Bertha Pitts Campbell – born in Kansas, Mrs. Campbell became a teacher there after graduating with distinction from Howard. In 1917, she married Earl Campbell and they became parents of a son, Earl Jr. The family lived in Colorado before moving to Seattle in 1923. In Seattle, Campbell was a committed activist and organizer as well as a Charter Member of the Christian Friends for Racial Equality. She was the recipient of a YMCA Achievement Award. At the age of 92, she led 10,000 Deltas in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the Founders of Delta Sigma Theta’s participation in the 1913 suffrage march.
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1913 Women Suffrage March
Less than two months after their founding, Delta Sigma Theta’s first public service act took place during the 1913 Women’s Suffrage March on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. The twenty-two founders marched with honorary member, Soror Mary Church Terrell under the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority banner on the day prior to Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. They felt Black women needed the right to vote in order to protect themselves against sexual exploitation as well as promote quality education, assist in the work force, and racial empowerment.
However, Delta’s founders and other Black female marchers were subjected to racism, not only by people who were opposed to the enfranchisement of women, but by march organizers reluctant to advocate suffrage for Blacks. For example, Soror Mary Church Terrell recalled how she and Delta Sigma Theta’s founders had to assemble in an area specifically allocated for Black women. Although the young twenty-two founders were criticized, none regretted their participation in the march. Years later, Founder Florence Toms commented, “We marched that day in order that women might come into their own, because we believed that women not only needed an education, but they needed a broader horizon in which they may use that education. And the right to vote would give them that privilege.”
The Delta girl is one who has been given the opportunity of education and broad development: she is one who has enjoyed the privileges of culture and selected environment.
It is pleasing to a heartfelt depth to see her not as self centered, not desirous of selfish power, not wanting the plaudits of people, not wanting glory- but with a purpose which directs her activities and all that she may control toward lifting somebody else.
By Soror Mary McLeod Bethune