On a national scale, the year 1969 is remembered for the Vietnam War, the lunar landing and Woodstock. Locally, June 4, 1969, marks the official day the Georgetown Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority was founded.
The sorority’s 50th anniversary celebration was held June 8 at Greater St. Stephen AME Church with a luncheon, live music and a list of speakers that included Georgetown Mayor Brendon Barber, Georgetown County schools Superintendent Randy Dozier, county Councilwoman Member Lillie Jean Johnson and former national sorority president, Gwendolyn Boyd.
Barber addressed the full banquet room, calling the sorority “a foundation of this community” and elaborated on their theme “Passing our Mission and Purpose from Generation to Generation.” He further outlined the importance of women in his administration.
“Growing up in a household of Deltas, I know how hard you work to make your community better, to impact the families and to impact the lives of our young people,” Barber said before presenting a mayoral proclamation to honor the occasion.
Dozier followed, saying that he was humbled by the invitation to speak. He offered his support for the sorority’s continued contributions to academic excellence and assistance to those in need.
“It’s appropriate that we congratulate the Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority on their 50th anniversary. It’s also important that we mention and recognize some of your accomplishments in Georgetown,” Dozier said.
He expressed appreciation for their partnership with Georgetown County Schools in providing mentorship and tutoring — especially in science, technology, engineering, math and reading.
“You’ve made a difference in the lives of many young people in a very positive manner,” he said.
Chapter President Vervatine Reid welcomed the guests and also shared written greetings from the sorority’s state coordinator, Monica Owens, and South Atlantic Regional Director, Juanita Massenburg.
Georgetown County Clerk of Court Alma White gave a brief reflection on the Chapter’s history.
“In keeping with the high ideals that were sent forth by the national organization in 1969 until this day,” White said, “for the most part, the chapter has had a very strong presence in the Georgetown community with the exception of a few years in the late ‘70s.”
Highlights of the sorority’s contributions were articulated by presenters Margretta Knox, Rosa Williams, Bernice Sanders, Evelyn Grayson, Jacqueline Geathers and Angela Woods. Along with various other service projects, the chapter was responsible for erecting a Howard High School historical marker as well as purchasing and installing benches on Martin Luther King Road in Pawleys Island during its first 20 years from 1969-1989.
From 1989 to 2009, the chapter established the Delta Academy for middle school girls and chartered Sigma XI, the collegiate chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority at Coastal Carolina University. Partnerships with both Habitat for Humanity and the League of Women Voters were created and a Black History essay contest for elementary students was initiated. During this time, they were able to increase scholarship funding to over $18,000 annually.
The chapter’s most recent decade has blossomed into more community service including the establishment of the Delta GEMS program for high school girls, the sponsorship of “Rise Against Hunger,” and the coordination of parent workshops in countywide after-school programs.
Following the luncheon, featured speaker Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd was introduced by 50th anniversary committee chair Dr. Marthena Grate Morant.
“You operate with integrity; you operate with character; you operate with courage, so you are solid like gold and you are valuable like gold,” Boyd said.
“The value you bring to this community, the work that you have done in this community, how you have changed lives as educators, as mentors as those who are part of this community, you are valuable,” she said.
Boyd encouraged the women in red to “stay on the battlefield.”
“It’s not the color you wear, but the service you give,” she said.
Mayor Barber presented Boyd with a city mug that signified an open invitation for Boyd to return to Georgetown. The celebration concluded with remarks from President Reid, who thanked all guests, elected officials, committee members, ministers and speakers.