The Deltas: Successful Women Who Were Members Of The Famed Sorority
Founded 100 years ago this month, Delta Sigma Theta (ΔΣΘ) is the largest African-American Greek-lettered sorority in the world. It is a sisterhood of more than 300,000 predominantly black college-educated women, and has chapters worldwide — United States, England, Japan (Tokyo and Okinawa), Germany, the Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the Republic of Korea.
Here’s a look at nine successful African-American women who were — and continue to be — Deltas.
Mara Brock Akil
Mara Brock Akil is the creator behind the two popular series, Girlfriends and The Game. Besides this, Akil, who first began her career in 1994 writing for the critically acclaimed Fox series South Central, has racked up a ton of television credits. She was supervising producer and writer on The Jamie Foxx Show, a writer for Moesha, a consulting producer and writer for Cougar Town, and a producer and writer for BET’s Being Mary Jane.
The veteran journalist, is currently co-host on NBC 4 New York’s celebrity and lifestyle show, New York Live. She is also a regular part of the nationally syndicated radio program, “The Tom Joyner Morning Show.” She also serves as a regular anchor and host for the TV One network. She is former anchorwoman on BET Nightly News and the former co-host of “The Steve Harvey Radio Show.”
Reid also tries to help others launch their own careers in journalism. She created the nonprofit, The Reid Group, which gives 10 Clark Atlanta University journalism students the opportunity to spend the summer in New York City, working in select news internships and learning in workshops conducted by the nation’s top journalists.
Dr. Betty Shabazz (1934 –1997)
Best known as the wife of Malcolm X, Dr. Betty Shabazz was a civil rights activist in her own right. She was also a former director at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College. She led the department of communications and public relations.
Alexis Herman was the first African-American Secretary of Labor (1997–2001), serving under President Bill Clinton. Before this she was Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. Currently, Herman, who is chairman and CEO of New Ventures, Inc, is the co-chairperson (with James Roosevelt, Jr.) of the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee. And serves on the boards of several major companies, including The Coca-Cola Company’s Human Resources Task Force, Toyota’s Diversity Advisory Board, Cummins, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Entergy, and Prudential.
Shirley Chisholm (1924 –2005)
The legendary Shirley Chisholm was the first African-American woman elected to Congress and the first African-American and the first female to run as a major party candidate for Presidential candidate in 1972.
Vashti Murphy McKenzie
It was major news in 2000 when journalist and clergywoman Vashti Murphy McKenzie became the first female bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. She is also granddaughter of Delta Sigma Theta founder, Vashti Turley Murphy.
Regina Benjamin is the current United States Surgeon General (since 2009), and the third African-American woman to be appointed Surgeon General. She is also the first physician under the age of 40 and first African-American woman named to the American Medical Association’s Board of Trustees.
Joycelyn Elders was the first African American and second woman to be appointed United States Surgeon General, from September 8, 1993 to December 31, 1994. She became known for her candid views on controversial issues such as drug legalization and distributing contraception in schools. Today she appears often on the speaking circuit.
Former NASA astronaut Higginbotham has logged over 308 hours in space. She flew on the Space Shuttle Discovery mission STS-116 as a mission specialist and is the third African-American female to go into space. She started out her career at NASA as an engineer.