“Delta not only celebrates history, we make history,” said Gwendolyn Elizabeth Boyd, an engineer and past national president of the Deltas. “Any organization that turns 100 and remains on mission, that is significant.
. . . Being a sisterhood called to serve, we are all connected by a common purpose to give back — to make sure we leave the world better than we found it.”
Well-known Deltas include: Betty Shabazz, the widow of Malcolm X; civil rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer; human rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune; actress Ruby Dee; singers Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin and Lena Horne; and congresswomen Shirley Chisholm and Barbara Jordan.
When Deltas say they are an organization dedicated to service, Butler-McIntyre said, “we are not boasting and bragging. We are just giving facts.”
In Prince George’s County, which has the largest chapter of the Deltas in the world, members include educators, legislators, judges and lawyers.
“We are glad to celebrate, but we still have a lot to do and the mission is clear: service, sisterhood and scholarship,” Prince George’s State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks said. “All of us are together in terms of our priority. . . . I am really moved by our first lady Christa Beverly. She is the reason we are here tonight.”
Butler-McIntyre told the crowd that the Deltas had received many invitations to attend receptions celebrating their anniversary. But, she said, the invitation from Prince George’s, which is lobbying to host the Deltas’ 2014 convention, took priority.
“Somebody called and said Brother Baker is married to a Delta,” McIntyre said, turning to the county executive who sat at a table with Christa Baker and their three children. “You need to thank soror Baker for us being here tonight. That’s how you got bumped up on the list.”
Throughout the evening, the Deltas explained sisterhood, a bond that allows a woman to skip over long introductions provides almost instant familiarity and trust.
Artis Hampshire-Cowan, a Howard University administrator who lives in Mitchellville, recalled a time years ago when she was traveling down a highway in Alabama. Running low on gas and money, she decided to pull off the highway at Alabama State University. On campus she looked for Deltas and didn’t even have to explain why she had no money. They reached into pocketbooks to put gas in her tank.
“That sisterhood is immediate,” Hampshire-Cowan said. “When you say you are a Delta to another Delta, it allows you to skip over” formalities. “That is sisterhood. No matter where you go, you have family.”
“Sisterhood means standing together in collective action,” said Vashti Murphy McKenzie, the first woman elected bishop in the history of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. “Like tonight, the first lady of the county, we stand with her. We stand with each other in good times and challenging times.”
The sorors lined up to take photos with Christa Baker, who clutched a bouquet of flowers wrapped in a crimson ribbon.