600+ Deltas Celebrate 110th Anniversary and Welcome Elsie Cooke-Holmes Back to Westchester County
The award-winning Westchester Alumnae Chapter celebrated 110 years of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. on Saturday, January 28, 2023, at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown, NY. Guests enjoyed an afternoon of dazzling entertainment, shopping in support of small businesses, and timeless encouraging words.
The theme for the Founders Day event, “Homecoming: A Season of Rededication and Reclamation,” set the stage for paying homage to the 22 college educated women of African descent who founded the sorority on the campus of Howard University in 1913. Westchester Alumnae’s Heritage and Archives Committee created a QR Code accessible exhibit featuring four Founders who claimed New York as their home.
In the tradition of HBCUs, the Homecoming Parade did not disappoint. The procession of the dais of distinction was followed by a banner roll call of the 12 alumnae and 12 collegiate chapters of the New York Metro area. The best of the parade was saved for last. DJ Monday Blue dropped a beat and 29 Golden Delta Dears strolled and strutted down the red carpet to a standing room only crowd. The Golden Delta Dear title is reserved for the few and the proud who have at least 50 years of membership in Delta.
Each table in the grand ballroom was adorned with crimson-colored roses and strands of white pearls. The room was filled with Delta dignitaries: Dawna Michelle Fields, Second Vice President, National Council of Negro Women; Shawyn Patterson-Howard, Mayor of the City of Mount Vernon; Lisa A. Copeland, Councilwoman of the City of Mount Vernon; Judge Delores Scott Brathwaite, Town of Greenburgh; and Judge Tamika A. Coverdale, City of Mount Vernon.
Tiffany S.W. Hamilton, First Vice President of Westchester Alumnae, served as Mistress of Ceremonies. With her soon to be trademarked phrase, “Keep the energy high, don’t let it die,” attendees responded to Tiffany’s call with palpable enthusiasm. Kanika A. Morgan, Esq., Chair, New York Metropolitan Coordinating Council of Delta and President of the Westchester Alumnae Chapter, greeted the 600+ guests from the 24 New York Metro Chapters of Delta.
Dr. Kimberly Crawford, member of the Westchester Alumnae Spiritual Council, led the invocation, followed by Past President, Tanee Johnson Bowman, who sang the Negro national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”.
The elevated dais included: Elsie Cooke-Holmes, National President & Chair of the Board of Directors of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; Rosie Allen-Herring, Eastern Regional Director; Jerra Holdip, Eastern Regional Representative; Susan L. Taylor, Honorary Member, Essence Magazine Editor-in-Chief Emerita; and Thasunda Brown Duckett, President & CEO of TIAA.
Sharisse “She Salt” Stancil-Ashford was a one-woman hype squad. Her refrain, “D-S-T, 1-9-1-3” was repeated by M.C. Hamilton to kick-off the second half of the program. Dawna Michelle Fields introduced Thasunda Brown Duckett, the second Black woman CEO to be named to a Fortune 500 company. Duckett’s Motivational Moment focused on family, her journey to the C-Suite, and TIAA’s commitment to closing the retirement income gap; retireinequality.com.
Before receiving the keynote address, the winner of the Dr. May Edward Chinn Scholarship was announced. Aliyah Muhammad of the New York Alumnae Chapter received the $2,000 award, named in honor of the first African-American woman, and a Delta, to graduate from Bellevue Hospital Medical College (now the NYU School of Medicine), and the first African-American woman to intern at Harlem Hospital.
Kanika Morgan’s introduction of the keynote speaker did not leave a dry eye in room. As Elsie Cooke-Holmes approached the podium, she did so with a tissue in hand and slightly broken voice. A long-time resident of Westchester County, Cooke-Holmes was home. She felt comfortable modifying U.S. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries’ lauded A-Z speech for the audience. Her clarion call brought the sorority sisters to their feet with heads signaling, “I know that’s right”.
The same high energy reaction was given when Cooke-Holmes received a $335,000 donation from Macy*s on behalf of the Delta Research and Educational Foundation, and after Yorri Berry-Harris’ soul stirring spoken word presentation, “Homecoming: Our Past Calling Us Forward”.
As the luncheon drew to a close, it was announced that proclamations recognizing Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. as one of the preeminent service-based sororities were received from the Hon. Andrea Stewart Cousins, on behalf of the New York State Senate; the Hon. George Latimer on behalf of Westchester County; and the Hon. Shawyn Patterson-Howard on behalf of the City of Mount Vernon.
After acknowledging the months of planning and stellar execution by the Founders Day Committee Tri-Chairs (Tracey M. Dixon, Michele Y. Ifill, Esq., and Shona Pinnock), 50+ members of the Founders Day Committee, and additional hands-on deck from Westchester Alumnae, Kanika Morgan completed the last item on the afternoon program. She passed the torch to Dr. Tanicia Rivera, President of the Bronx Alumnae Chapter.
The New York Metropolitan Coordinating Council of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. looks forward to celebrating Founders Day on January 13, 2024, in the BX!