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In McKinney, Texas The First Black Sorority Celebrate Their Founders

14 were honored for their long-time service to the organization
Photo: Matilda Preisendorf

In a sea of green and pink, silver and gold shimmered. On March 5, 2023, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated members met to celebrate the organization's founders during the Chi Zeta Omega Chapter Founders’ Day Brunch in Collin County.

The McKinney Sheraton’s grand ballroom was filled with women and their families — some from across the country — to honor the members that came before them and the members of the future. 

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (AKA) was the first intercollegiate historically Black sorority. The organization was founded on January 15, 1908, at Howard University in Washington, D.C. The group of sixteen students led by Ethel Hedgemon Lyle. AKA was officially incorporated on January 29, 1913.

Photo: Matilda Preisendorf

The Chi Zeta Omega chapter was chartered on November 23, 2002, by Shirley Fisher in Plano, Texas. The chapter was the 125th in the Sensational South Central Region. The establishment of the Chi Zeta Omega Chapter marked the chartering of the first Black sorority in Collin County. 

“Looking at the community, we wanted to bring service to the people of Collin County,” Fisher told Local Profile. “There wasn’t anything else like this in the area so we knew this was the community to do it.”

AKA is now one of the nation's largest Greek-letter organizations, having more than 355,000 members in 1,061 chapters throughout 11 countries. Women may join through undergraduate chapters at a college or university or be invited to join by a graduate chapter after acquiring an undergraduate or advanced college degree.

This year’s founder’s day brunch was focused on sisterhood and service, featuring guest panelists including CBS News Evening Anchor Nicole Baker; Chi Zeta Omega Chapter President Tamme Gaddis; Founder’s Day Chairman Sydney Davis; Founder’s Day Co-Chairman Gloria Werthing Reynolds; Founder’s Day Co-Chairman Lesley Roane; 21st South Central Regional Director Shirley R. Fisher; 24th South Central Regional Director Chelle Luper Wilson; author Cheryl Polote-Williamson; and International Program Committee Chairman Toria Frederick. 

Photo: Matilda Preisendorf

Lunch was served and a musical tribute was sung by the AKAlades. While the room was lively with chatter the setup began for the guest speaker, Cheryl Polote-Williamson. As a successful author, producer and philanthropist, she is an icon for AKA members and beyond. She discussed being a strong woman, one that cares for her sisters and the other women in their lives. 

“For the women you pass by, you would be surprised how much it means to recognise and say to them ‘I see you.’” Polote-Williamson said during her Q&A event. “Be intentional about checking on one another, intentional about loving one another.” 

But the highlight of the event was the 14 women who are dedicated, long-time members of AKA. Twelve women at the event were declared Silver Honorees, meaning they have been involved in AKA for 25 years. Two were given the prestigious title of Gold Honoree — 50-year members. 

Photo: Matilda Preisendorf

The women, dressed in gold and silver, walked through the room one by one to receive a crown, a rose and a sash to commemorate their dedication to AKA. 

Over the next three years, AKA’s dedication stems into five initiatives: empower their families, build their economic wealth, enhance their environment, advocate for social justice and uplift their local community. 

“We are soaring to greater heights of service and sisterhood,” Chapter President Gaddis told Local Profile