The month of January is among the most important months of the year. Not only is it a time to welcome in the new year, but it produces the first major holiday of the year, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday.
Likewise, within the black community and noting its larger impact across multiple ethnic and demographic groups, among its cornerstone entities are the fraternities and sororities which make up the Black Greek Letter Organizations. January is a significant month in recognition of organizational founders’ days, in that organizations such as Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. (January 5, 1911), Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. (January 9, 1914), Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (January 13, 1913), Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (January 15, 1908), and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. (January 16, 1920) are celebrating the days their organizations are established.
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc’s celebration is especially significant in that they are celebrating their centennial (100th) year of existence. Their organization joins the likes of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (December 4, 1906, 106 years), Alpha Kappa Alpha (105 years as of today’s date), Kappa Alpha Psi (102 years), and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. (November 17, 1911, 101 years) as members of what is affectionately known as the “centennial club”.
Combined with contributions from Masonry (Freemasonry and Prince Hall) and the Organization of Eastern Stars, these are more than just collegiate-established and chapter-based organizations on multiple college campuses and locations within metro-Atlanta, Georgia; with chapters throughout the country and even internationally, all organizations (including Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc., whose establishment on September 19, 1963 is resulting in their 50 year celebration later this year, as well as Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc, established November 12, 1922) have a grounding based in leadership, community service, and outreach. Be it figures such as (but not limited to) Martin Luther King, Jr. (Alpha Phi Alpha), his wife, Coretta Scott King (Alpha Kappa Alpha), Representative Sanford Bishop (D-GA, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi), Historian Carter G. Woodson (Omega Psi Phi), along with current community leaders such as (but not limited to) former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin (Delta Sigma Theta), Congressman John Lewis (D-GA, a member of Phi Beta Sigma), author Zora Neale Hurston (Zeta Phi Beta), actress and foster child advocate Victoria Rowell (Sigma Gamma Rho), and Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL, a member of Iota Phi Theta), historically and presently, members of the aforementioned organizations not only make their mark in the public and private sector, but through their local chapters and community partnerships in addressing areas of concern related to education, government and politics, health issues, and others.
This Sunday, January 20th, one of the area places of worship, the Salt and Light Truth Center (4031 Rainbow Drive in Decatur) is taking time to dedicate a portion of its worship service to celebrate the impact of these community-grounded organizations. For their 8:15am service, members of all of the aforementioned organizations are invited to attend, have their stories of stewardship and outreach shared with the congregation and others in the community, along with a message that reinforces the underlying notion of providing multiple groups within the community in helping provide access to resources grounded in addressing community and interrelated areas of concern.
A sense of spirituality, celebration, solace, and grounding in making sure those taking on the mantle of community leadership remain dedicated to serve is something that all, be they members of said organizations or not, can draw some insight from. Celebration is good, but stewardship and service are better in being able to be the problem-addressers and solvers needed in meeting the needs of a given community.
This Sunday can be a good way to have a better day.