The Deltas: A Force to Be Reckoned With Poor Vernon Jordan. His extensive list of accomplishments lacks one thing: membership in the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. "I love them," Jordan said Saturday night. "I actually tried to be a Delta when I was at Howard, but they wouldn't take me. So I married one."
Jordan's first wife, Shirley, was a member of the famed African American sorority, as were hundreds of other women who celebrated its 90th anniversary this weekend at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. Saturday's black-tie gala dinner was filled with Deltas in red and cream (the sorority's colors) surrounded by admirers in tuxedos, including Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert. "Delta women -- both when I was a young student and today -- combine a wonderful mix of intellect and soul," he said.
Delta Sigma Theta was founded on Jan. 13, 1913, by 22 Howard undergrads. These young women (who thought the only other sorority on campus, Alpha Kappa Alpha, was a bit too "social") established a new, service-oriented sorority. "We're women who are about change," President Gwendolyn Boyd told the crowd. "We feel compelled to make a difference. That's why we're Deltas."
There are more than 200,000 members today; Deltas on the guest list Saturday included civil rights icon Dorothy Height, former secretary of labor Alexis Herman, Bennett College President Johnnetta Cole, former District first lady Cora Masters Barry and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio.)
"I wouldn't have been labor secretary if I wasn't a Delta," Herman asserted, adding that her sorority sisters lobbied tirelessly for her appointment to Bill Clinton's Cabinet.
Jones, who is the first black woman named to the House Ways and Means Committee, was even more grateful. "It's given me a base of support," she said, noting that Deltas take care of one another. (And, lucky for her, they send in campaign contributions.)
The evening, befitting the Delta founders, was long on speeches and short on play -- although dancing was on the program. "We know how to party, too," Jones said with a smile. Well . . . we'll have to ask the Alphas about that. A Wild Time At the Movies The giant panda could talk, which made for some cute encounters at the World Wildlife Fund's screening Friday of "The Wild Thornberrys Movie" at the Motion Picture Association of America offices downtown. WWF Executive Vice President David Sandalow, MPAA head Jack Valenti and the WWF mascot greeted the smallest environmentalists with pizza, hot dogs and brownies, while parents and teenagers from the Earth Conservation Corps and EnvironMentors Program looked on as the littlest kids chatted up the panda (and vice mascot polar bear).
The animated film features a 12-year-old girl who saves animals from poachers in Africa (she gains and then loses the power to talk to animals, but she rescues them anyway). Happy claps from all ages present. "The message is that you don't need extraordinary powers to do extraordinary things," said Sandalow.
Good news for the would-be Doctor Dolittles in the crowd. Gang's All There at the Alexandria Speakeasy Flapper dresses, silent films and gin -- take your pick, because all were at the "Roarin' Redmon's Speakeasy Gala" at the Birchmere Saturday night. The black-tie event honored incoming Alexandria Chamber of Commerce board chairman John Redmon, dressed as a festive gangster ready for anything.
"Supporting business through the community to make Alexandria a great place to live -- that's my overall goal," Redmon said, then added with a sly grin: "Well, that and being mob boss tonight."
His "family" of 250 included Alexandria Mayor Kerry Donley, School Superintendent Rebecca Perry and others in '20s getups including John "Giovanni Cappuccino" Coffey and his wife, Dorothy. Making an offer the guests couldn't refuse, the party raised funds for the Alexandria Education Partnership.
"The whole era is secretive and yet so much fun," said chamber member Amanda Chandler as she danced to Big Ray and the Kool Kats. "That's why it works so well; tonight has been just fabulous. You can really let your hair down."
If it wasn't bobbed, that is. With Beth Buchanan