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How Sorority Life Can Change Politics

Marcia Chatelain wrote for the Washington Post’s “Made by History” blog about black women’s sororities and politics:

Before black women could hope for an Oprah presidency, before they could see themselves in stories crafted by Shonda or Issa, before they could feel a sense of pride in a first lady named Michelle, they had Ethel, Beulah, Lucy and the six other founders of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

One hundred ten years after its 1908 founding at Howard University, the oldest of the four most prominent black sisterhoods is still a vibrant part of campus life — in part because its mission persists. The 16 architects of AKA and the black women’s sorority movement felt isolated in the predominantly male environment at Howard. Like white women, who launched their sororities as early as 1870, they used the Greek-letter society system to combat sexism in higher education.