Who are we? My sisters and I are the unique sorors of G-Phi-D – Gamma Phi Delta Sorority, Inc. that is. In February 2016, I found myself, in Jackson, at the interest meeting for this historic sorority founded in 1943 in Detroit. Like any prospective member, I sat attentively in my professional business attire, clutching my purse and bracing myself for my upcoming journey into Gamma-land.
Over the course of my process, I spent hours learning the history of the sorority. Those several weeks seemed like an eternity, but I lived for it. I wanted to be a part of this unique sisterhood. So, I did what it took, and I successfully crossed the sands and became a sorority member of the Delta Gamma chapter of Gamma Phi Delta Sorority, Inc. in Spring ‘16.
When I first received my letters, people often stopped me to ask what is Gamma Phi Delta? Many of you reading this may pose the same question. We Gammas often tout that we are unique. No, we are not Divine 9, but, from a historical perspective, our traditions and history are just as significant as any other organization.
Our founder, Violet T. Lewis, wanted to create an institution of higher learning that served as a vocational school for women of color who sought to advance themselves in the world of business. In 1928, she founded Lewis Business College in Detroit, the first Black college established in Michigan. Thousands of black women received an education at this institution from 1928 to its closure in 2013.
In 1943, Lewis created the Gamma Phi Delta Sorority on the campus of Lewis Business College, along with her sister Elizabeth Garner, and a host of women known to Gammas as the 13 Original Pearls.
The purpose of the sorority was to establish chapters throughout the United States and to promote education in the black community. Since the founding of the sorority, thousands of service projects, auxiliaries and scholarships have been created to benefit communities on local, regional and national levels.
To date, there are over 55 active chapters in the country. One is the Delta Gamma Citywide Chapter, here in Jackson, of which I am a member. Although the Delta Gamma Chapter was founded on the campus of Tougaloo College in 2003, membership is offered to area students at two-year and four-year institutions of higher learning.
Since 2003, hundreds of women have successfully become women of Gamma contributing to the city of Jackson through service and leadership. Many Gamma women are Jackson State students – like me, Natalie Nicholson and Nicolette Jones – and alumni.
On April 15, we passed the torch to a new line of sisters who successfully crossed those sands and became members of the Delta Gamma chapter. As the membership chairperson, I asked my then prospective members why they wanted to be a part of my sorority. They said, “For sisterhood, for service and to make ourselves and others better.”
I make it a point to tell all interested in our organization that I joined Gamma Phi Delta to uphold the legacy and values of its founders. When you look at the current state of the country and especially the Jackson community, the relevance of social and service organizations is prominent. The educational status of our youth is at stake, and the economic development of black communities is stagnant. As members of the Delta Gamma chapter, we seek to empower each other as black women; to advocate for those in our communities and fight for positive change that benefits our people.
Our chapter and the sorority as a whole continue to grow because like-minded women rise up to the challenge of becoming women of Gamma Phi Delta and make positive changes in their community.
We are a historic black sorority founded on a historically black college campus in Michigan. We strive to better the lives of those in our communities and of course, we are about the business and professional development of all black women. So, who are we? My sisters and I, we are the unique sorors of G-Phi-D.
To learn more about Gamma Phi Delta Sorority, Inc., visit our website at www.gammaphideltasorority.com. You can find us on Instagram @thosedeltagammagammas.
Keiana Holleman is from Davenport, Iowa and graduated from Jackson State University on April 29 with a degree in mass communications. She is the current president of the Delta Gamma Chapter of Gamma Phi Delta Sorority, Inc., and is an advocacy and outreach intern for AARP-Mississippi. She plans to use her degree to contribute to political campaigns and pursue a political career in her home state of Iowa.