The Pine Bluff Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. celebrated its 75th anniversary recently with a week of activities and grand gala.
Activities began Dec. 1 and climaxed with a “Red Diamond” Gala Dec. 7 at the Pine Bluff Convention Center with 250 people in attendance. The theme was “A Red Diamond Experience: 75 Years – The Legacy Continues.” Anniversary co-chairs were Kelly D. Bryant and Shirley A. Jacob.
The convention center lobby was adorned with a 75th anniversary logo projection and a diamond themed backdrop where guests were photographed on the red carpet. The banquet hall was decorated in red and silver with a red carpet down the center of the room. Four chandeliers and an ice sculpture were also displayed.
Chapter members, Kelly D. Bryant and Carla M. Martin, were emcees for the gala. Official greetings were extended by Nicolette Laurent, Pine Bluff Alumnae president, and Deborah Bland, Arkansas state coordinator.
Chapter members who achieved 50 or more years in the sorority were recognized. Members walked the red carpet and received a red Delta Sigma Theta stole embroidered with the Greek letters and 50-year laurel wreath by the chapter president.
The 50+ year members present were: Fran Dalton (61 years), Shirley Jacob (58 years), Eva McGee (57 years), Virginia Littlejohn (57 years), Hazel Smith (56 years) and Dorothy Brown (55 years). Five other 50+ year members were unable to attend: Alma Murphy (53 years), Jonesetta Lassiter (54 years), Marion McLarty (57 years), viralene Coleman, Ph.D, (59 years), and Naomi Lawson (72 years) who is the chapter’s oldest member. Two 50+ year members whose contributions will forever be remembered by the chapter passed away in 2019, Irene Lee (50 years) and Carolyn F. Williams (62 years).
The Pine Bluff Chapter has been led by 34 presidents over its 75 years. Each past president was introduced, walked the red carpet, and presented with a glass, diamond shaped award by the chapter president with assistance from Monica Bones, vice president.
The presidents in attendance along with their years of service: Eva McGee (1972 -1974), Shirley A. Jacob (1974 - 1976), Bessie Lancelin (1983 -1984), Virginia Littlejohn (1988 - 1990), Cassandra Smith (1990 - 1992), Birlee Lever (1992 - 1994), Jennifer R. Smith (1994 - 1996), Betty Jo Lacy (1996 - 2000), Jo Ann Davis (2000 - 2004), Virgirean M. Owens (2004 - 2008), Bettye J. Williams, Ph.D. (2008 - 2010), Charlene Kelley (2010 - 2014), and Kelly D. Bryant (2014 - 2018).
Kelly D. Bryant, immediate past president, presented Nicolette Laurent, with an award for leading the chapter on the 75th anniversary.
Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington Pine Bluff, brought greetings and presented a proclamation declaring Pine Bluff Alumnae Chapter Day. Felicia Fisher, chaplain, provided the invocation and blessing of the food. The William Staggers Trio entertained guests.
A video showcasing the charter members, history highlights, and chapter programming was shown following dinner. Guests were invited to pour their sparkling cider into the souvenir keepsake glasses at each table. Eva McGee,past president, presented a toast that reminded the chapter members that there is “Joy in Our Sisterhood, Power in Our Voice, and Service in Our Heart.”
Closing remarks and special recognitions were made by Kelly D. Bryant, Anniversary Co-Chair.
The chapter was chartered as Beta Phi Sigma on Dec. 1, 1944, by seven outstanding women who had a commitment to sisterhood, scholarship, and service and wanted to give back to the community, according to a news release.
Charter members were Gladys Alley, Dorothy Burkett, Renette Doggett, Wilma Knowles Edwards, Bessie Jordan, Katie J. Pierre and Willie Thomas.
The chapter kicked off the week of celebration Dec. 1 worshipping at Damascus Missionary Baptist Church. Chapter members wore red along with a custom designed 75th anniversary scarf that included the charter members’ names. A luncheon was held following the service.
In recognition of chapter’s service to the community, public service activities were scheduled throughout the week. The chapter adopted Southwood Elementary School, where 19 members read to all 25 classrooms on Dec. 3. A $500 check presentation was made to Southwood Principal Kim West to provide books for students as an incentive to read more and for those who may need financial assistance to purchase books from the annual book fair, according to the release.
Eleven members participated in bingo and reading with residents of The Villages of General Baptist West on Dec. 5. All residents who participated received a gift bag with a pair of socks and personal hygiene items.
On Dec. 6, two grocery carts of hygiene items, socks, and books were donated to CASA Women’s Shelter and more than 100 canned goods were donated to TOPPS (Targeting Our People’s Priorities with Service.)
Gala sponsors included Diamond Level Sponsors: Con-Real /Alley Family and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; Crimson Level Sponsors: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Shirley Jacob & Linda Richardson, and Eva McGee; Organization table sponsors: The Pine Bluff Branch – NAACP; The Pine Bluff Branch - National Association of University Women (NAUW); Pine Bluff (AR) Chapter – The Links, Inc.; and SDR Consulting; and the many other individuals who purchased tables.