On January 9, 2022, Sigma Lambda Omega Chapter safely recognized its first Pearl for delivering 65 years of service in a wonderful drive-by celebration! Led by the History Archives committee, chaired by the chapter's historian Cynthia Barnett, several cars lined the street decorated in AKA sorority colors pink and green. The cars went by honking horns in celebration. Ruth E. Pitts Cross-Batts, a former dietitian who joined Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. as an undergrad while attending HBCU, Tuskegee Institute in 1957, was overjoyed, “It was absolutely beautiful” she stated. Sigma Lambda Omega's President Michelle Watson spoke fondly of the event, “It was a joyous occasion. We were all so thrilled to be there celebrating our sister for her years of service. We are so proud to have our first active pearl.”
November 2020 was a reminder of the importance of our voice and our vote. As we recognize Black History Month, it is fitting that we take the time to honor those whose hard work and dedication provided us the opportunity to cast our ballot and show that we are a force to be reckoned with.
In the early 1960s, a non-violent protest took place in the small town of Albany, Georgia. A few Albany preachers, along with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others from the community devised new strategies for The Albany Movement, which preceded the march on Selma. My mother still remembers the day when Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others came to my grandparents ’ home to discuss support for the cause. My grandfather was a preacher.
Many African-American leaders, ministers, and students marched on behalf of desegregation and voting rights. My uncle, a student at the time, was among the protestors in Albany who were jailed for taking a stand for their beliefs in the tenets of equality for all citizens, including the right to vote.
It is the brave sacrifice of those who have gone before us that has afforded each of us the right and the privilege to vote. It would be a shame to take it for granted or waste it.
In 2022, your time will come again to make a difference. Throughout the country voter suppression is rampant and should we not prepare for 2022 our voices will not be heard on the national or local level.
VOTE! It’s a serious matter!
AKA’s L.E.A.D. Learn. Empower. Advocate. and Decide.
BlackPast.org (2016). https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/albany-movement-1961-1962/
1950s: MLKJr, Civil Rights Movements and SCLC (2015). http://kingandcivilrights.blogspot.com/2015/11/albany-georgia-movement.html
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Sigma Lambda Omega (SLO) Chapter’s Inter Greek Committee Chair, Taj Jackson, with influences from its non-partisan political wing SLO Connection Committee Chair, Deborah Neal, partnered with other Valley Divine 9 members, a group of historically Black Greek-Lettered Organizations, to bring awareness to the ongoing fight for justice and equality in the African-American community and to encourage people within the community to vote. Many of the efforts took place across various mediums including television and social media.
In June, The Valley Divine 9 was featured on ABC News Channel 7 showing their support and solidarity to the tragic events of George Floyd. Several of SLO’s members, including SLO President Tamla Roberts, met at Reseda Church of Christ in Reseda, CA where they joined church leaders and others in solidarity against racial injustices. During the service Roberts brought greetings to the community. SLO also issued a statement expressing its solidarity in support of Black Lives Matter and against state-based and state-sanctioned violence directed at Black communities.
Later in June, SLO member Taj Jackson led the effort in hosting The Valley Divine 9’s first “When We All Vote Couch Party,” a virtual interactive conversation on voter education and registration, in support of the When We All Vote campaign on Juneteenth which was promoted on a local news channel. The informative event also spoke about the importance of completing the 2020 U.S. Census. The Valley Divine 9 later created a complementary video to further encourage the completion of the 2020 U.S. Census.
“The members of Sigma Lambda Omega Chapter are AKAs that L.E.A.D. (Learn, Empower, Advocate, and Decide). We understand the connection of voting and the Census and how the two enable change to occur in our communities. So, we will continue to encourage completion of the Census and implement voter education, registration, and mobilization programs to lead our community to the polls on November 3, 2020,” says Tamla Roberts, Chapter President.
The dedicated ladies of Sigma Lambda Omega Chapter are looking forward to continuing their efforts of bringing Supreme Service to All Mankind throughout this election season. This Is A Serious Matter!
Sigma Lambda Omega (SLO) chapter's The Arts! A Salute to the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement student program concluded its Unit 1 Poetry from the Movements workshop, the first of three units, with a vibrant poetry competition!
With works inspired by the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement, students gave it their all and each student was magnificent. Versed with music, all original work was packed with creativity. The audience was moved by the students’ professionalism and knowledge of the era facilitated by SLO’s Arts team. As a special “thank you,” each poet received a ticket to the play “Unsung Sheroes” produced by SLO’s very own Karla Kincaid. Congratulations and special prizes went to The Arts! Poetry Contest Winner Zoe Griffin for her poem, “The Snow Fairy” inspired by the works of Harlem Renaissance poet Claude McKay.
Following the competition, in a nod to SLO’s upcoming Unit 2 Visual Arts from the Movements workshop, the audience was captivated by the visual works and wise words from famed artist Charles Bibbs. The room was moved as he shared about his artistic journey and offered inspiration and encouragement to all saying, “Our future is in the hands of our youth in the terms of fame versus success.” Bibbs goes on to say, “If He (God) gives you something that you are naturally good at, that’s what you’re supposed to do.” Thank you to Charles Bibbs for his meaningful contribution to our youth and for sharing his outstanding gift of artistic expression with us all.
AN INTERVIEW WITH HBCU TOUR SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENT, AJA MORRISON!
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is dedicated to the sustainability of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The goal is to promote and market HBCUs and encourage students to attend HBCUs as a sustainability measure. Sigma Lambda Omega Chapter pledged to sponsor a deserving youth to attend the Educational Student Tour (EST) directed by Greg and Yasmin Delahoussaye. The Delahoussayes have led Black College Tours for over 30 years. Last spring, SLO learned of Aja Morrison’s interest in possibly attending an HBCU.
Aja was then an 11th grader attending Valley Academy of Arts and Sciences in Granada Hills. SLO was impressed with her high school academic record and her enthusiasm to attend college. We recognized the financial challenges she and her family faced and awarded her with a $1500 scholarship to go on the HBCU tour with the Delahoussayes. Aja also took advantage of our #CAP (College Admission Process) program. She recognized this as a means to improve her chances to attend the college of her choice. She is now in her second year in the #CAP program and has attended several workshops.
Sigma Lambda Omega sees Aja Morrison as a rising star. We wish to offer her the tools she needs to shine bright! Committee Co-Chairman and SLO chartering member Cynthia Barnett chatted (via text) with Aja about her experience on the Black College Tour.
Read below excerpts from their conversation!
C. Barnett: Aja, what colleges did you visit last summer on the Educational Student Tours (EST)? What did you think of the tour?
Aja Morrison: We visited six schools in three different states, plus Washington DC. We toured: Spelman, Clark Atlanta University, Johnson C. Smith University, North Carolina A&T, Hampton University and Howard University. When in Washington, DC, we also got to tour the city. A highlight was our visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
It was an amazing trip and somewhat overwhelming! Seeing predominantly black campuses for the first time was incredible! I experienced a mixture of emotions. In a way, it was nerve wracking. It was also exciting. On the other hand, I was shocked. To actually see a university with the large presence of “us” was beyond belief. The whole trip was an adventure. I didn’t know where to look first. Everything got my attention. I didn’t know where to focus. The people, the buildings, the beautiful campuses, cities, all were new to me. I had never seen anything like it. Fortunately, these were guided tours and I was able to learn a lot. I really enjoyed it.
C. Barnett: Do you feel you should have visited more than the six schools?
Aja M: No, six was the right amount. Too many more and I would have been confused. There was a lot to take in at each campus. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity. All the schools are so far away. I would have never had the chance to visit all of them with my family alone.
C. Barnett: Who was your roommate? How many youth all together were on the tour?
Aja M. Sasha Brown and Chyanne (I forget her last name) were my roommates. I met Sasha in the CAP program. She is Ms. Diane’s granddaughter. It was just a coincidence that we were assigned to room together.
I believe there were about 25 students altogether on the tour. It was a nice size group. There were lots of chaperones.
C. Barnett: Of the six schools you visited, did you have a favorite?
Aja M.: Yes, my favorites were Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU), Hampton University and North Carolina University. They felt comfortable and like home. JCSU was very small and it somewhat reminded of the high school I go to. Hampton University and NCA&T both caught my attention because of the programs they offered. I feel that I could receive a great education from any of the three.
Postscript: Aja recently attended the LA HBCU College Fair, had her transcripts in hand, and received on-the-spot acceptance to JCSU! She also was previously accepted at CSU East Bay. Commitment Day is May 1. Aja is applying for scholarships and trying to determine where she can receive the best financial package with little to know debt obligations.
Soror Norma Magee is a caregiver and shared her insights, learnings, and tools to help others who are living the caregiver experience.
Q1. What has been your caregiving experience?
Soror Norma: It can be a very taxing job. I can endure it because I am a woman of faith “I can do all thru Christ Jesus who strengthens me”. If you have that in your mind, you must have a spiritual means to take one day at a time. One day your loved one may be up or down. So, when you feel stressed, you must have God, a friend, a book, or a walk for relief. You are the weapon the person has around to transfer their pain to (transference). Often patients let it out on the person closest to them. That may be the caregiver. You must be strong to handle their pain. You may even question if this is the person you love?
Q2. How would you equate this experience to handling conflicts in a relationship?
Soror Norma: You have to learn to compromise and not wear your feelings on your sleeve. Know when your partner is hurting. They may in fact be in more pain than you are. And they may be scared. You may even feel alienated or attacked by your loved one. You probably feel the need to keep the situation private and not seek help.
Q3. Have medical providers been able to offer assistance?
Soror Norma: I would encourage others to get help and share how you are feeling. Get Help! Talk to your doctor and your partner’s doctor. Support groups may help some as well as getting uplifted through your church.
Q4. Are there tools you embraced or would recommend for caregivers?
The ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Sigma Lambda Omega (SLO) chapter brought outstanding service to the community during the SFV Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast held at the Boys & Girls Club of San Fernando Valley.
Members of SLO had the pleasure of meeting several of Los Angeles County’s representatives like Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“SLO is honored to have served for the past 9 years as volunteers for this event which recognizes the contributions made by San Fernando Valley’s diverse community,” states SLO President Tamla Roberts, “This community is our community and we enjoy being a part of the celebration.”
Information about SLO’s current and upcoming events and initiatives, most of them free, were offered at the community event. Opportunities such as #CAPSM (college admissions process), SLO’s student Arts program, information on Voter Registration, Women’s Health and Wellness opportunities, Scholarship opportunities, and more were provided living up to the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority credo of bringing “Supreme Service to All Mankind.”
Pertaining to African American women, heart disease and stroke are the leading cause of death. The risk factors that contribute to heart disease and stroke are diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, and a family history of heart disease. In addition, African American women have double the risk of Caucasian women and die at an earlier age than women of other ancestry. Hypertension (high blood pressure) also is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Research indicates an excess of 40 percent of non-Hispanic blacks have hypertension, which develops earlier and is more severe than non-Blacks.
Recommendations to remain healthy include lowering your salt/sodium intake of food and beverages. Change your habits to cook healthy, study healthy choices, and get physically active with routine exercise.
Warning Signs of Stroke
C. Barnett: Kayla, we are all anxious to hear about your first-quarter experience at UC Davis. Please give some of the highlights.
Kayla Jefferson: UC Davis has been a lot to take in, but I would consider myself adjusted at this point. I’ve met a variety of people and even joined a club. I presently have all “A’s” in my classes. I’m happy with my progress and very excited about what I’ve been learning. The workload is a little stressful, but it is manageable. My favorite class would be my Seminar on the Crisis of the American Dream. My most challenging class is Linguistics since it involves understanding different languages.
C. Barnett: Do you feel you have everything you need to be competitive and do your best in your studies?
Kayla Jefferson: Yes, I have all my books and everything necessary to successfully move ahead. My roommates are really nice and we get along fine. Making the social adjustment is part of this game and I’m happy to be in good company and have such great study partners for my roommates. We hang out together when we have time.
C. Barnett: Is college life what you expected?
K. Jefferson: Actually, yes it is. It is a lot of “adult-ing” and it’s fun. But it requires a serious focus and concentration on school work. On the weekends, I mostly stay in, study and complete homework assignments. Occasionally, I will join the crowd and go to downtown Davis. There is a Farmers’ Market that is really popular and it has a lot of eateries that I enjoy trying.
C. Barnett: How many roommates do you have and where are they from?
K. Jefferson: I have two roommates. One is from Victorville and the other is from San Diego. So we are all California women! We get along beautifully. It’s been fun learning about each other and our different backgrounds. We live on a “community floor” and it is representative of a great deal of ethnic diversity. Interestingly, I only see a few African American students in my classes.
This quarter, I am taking 5 classes. One of them is an African Verbal Arts class. It is an interesting class taught by an Ugandan Professor.
All in all, this was a great beginning at college life. It is the best of both worlds. It is challenging, but I’m also having fun. It is the start of a wonderful excursion. Many thanks to you ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Sigma Lambda Omega Chapter. I truly appreciate the help you have given me to begin this exciting journey.
Chartered on April 7, 1990, the Sigma Lambda Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority, Incorporated®, is a volunteer professional service organization comprised of women who use their special skills and expertise developed in their working life to design and implement service programs within the San Fernando Valley.