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JOURNAL Summer 2013 s45 Page Harrington, executive director of the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, address marchers and members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. PHOTO BY GEORGE TOLBERT fall on deaf ears, as 22 women began to contemplate the possibilities of change and their roles as change agents. Less than two months before 5,000 suffragists marched down the streets of Washington, D.C., those same 22 intelligent, vibrant and socially-minded women formed an organization that they envisioned as one that would affect the change they wanted and needed to see in the world. And so it was, on January 13, 1913, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority was born. The 22 Founders of the Sorority envisioned the organization as one that would deal with the complexities of the time that would ignite, invoke, and demand enfranchisement for women. On March 3, 1913, the 22 Founders of the newly formed public service organization marched down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. with thousands of other suffragettes, demanding that women receive the right to vote. This was Delta Sigma Theta’s first public act of service and social activism. The atmosphere on that day was far from celebratory. The women were spat on, purposely tripped, pushed, shoved, and insulted as the police looked on as mere spectators instead of enforcers of the law. Over 100 women were hospitalized. At first glance, it appeared that the women marched in solidarity but this was not the case. White men resented the participation of all women in the march, and most white women resented the participation of African- American women. In fact, white suffrage leader, Alice Paul opined the sentiments of the day stating, “As far as I can see, we must have a white procession, or a Negro procession, or no procession at all.” The white suffrage leaders insisted that if African-American women participated, they should march in the back, in a “black procession.” Despite these restrictions, the 22 Founders made the courageous decision to march with the suffragists. Delta Sigma Theta was the only African-American organization to participate in the march. Their participation not only benefited all women but would propel a race from the back of the crowd to the front of social issues, civil justice matters and the fight for racial and gender equality for African-Americans and African-American women. Marching into the Next Century of Service by Bernadine Williams Stallings A century after its founding, 15,000 members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority returned to Washington, D.C. to “retrace the footsteps of their Founders” in a Suffrage March re-enactment honoring the first public act of the Sorority. The march, held during the organization’s 24th Annual Delta Days on the


SummerJournal2013
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