Top Row (Left to Right): Theresa Rousseve, Elaine Delahoussaye, Lorraine Green, Hazel LA Cabe, Marguerite Marshall, Elaine Hewitt, Elmer Segue, Vervon Dumas, Louise Matthew, Undine Davis.
Middle Row: Alexa Creuzot, Grace Broyard, Alida Mason, Althea Belfield, Odessa Khaton, Roberta Palfrey, Eva Martin, Adelaide Wethers, Portia Grainger, Claudesta Organ.
Bottom Row: Gloria Brawley, Shirley Randolph, Josephine Knowles, Udine Valteau, Miriam Joseph.
The year is 1944 and the young women shown above are experiencing college life and the joy of being members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority on the campus of Xavier University. Many important events are taking place locally for these young ladies but many events nationally are impacting their lives even more.
On June 6, 1944, D-Day found our allied forces crossing the English Channel to land in Normandy, France. This event signaled the end of World War II in Europe. President Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated Republican Thomas Dewey and became the only President to ever be elected to a 4th term. This year, meat rationing ended in the U.S. and the famous ball point pen went on sale for the very first time. In 1944, Adolph Hitler barely escaped an assassination attempt by members of his own general staff and a proposal for the establishment of a United Nations was set in motion by the United States and its allies. The GI Bill of Rights passed and was signed in ’44 and that same year the U.S. Supreme Court declared “white only” political primaries unconstitutional. Finally, the United Negro College Fund was founded on April 24th to support black colleges and students.
As they gathered together as members of AKA Sorority in 1944, these young ladies were following in the footsteps of many others who came before them. Just 36 years earlier in 1908, nine young women came together on the campus of Howard University to form an organization that would promote friendship among its members, encourage high academic standards, help alleviate problems of other women, and be of service to all. Today, it is recognized as the oldest Greek-letter organization established by college-educated women of color.
From a core group of nine at Howard, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, at the present, has grown into a face of more than 280,000 collegiate members and alumnae across the United States and beyond.
Sources: Xavier Herald, November 1944 page 7, Xavier University Archives & Special Collections; www.aka/908.com/about/history