On January 15, 1908, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority became the first Greek-lettered organization established by Black women in the United States. Its creation was the brainchild of Ethel Hedgeman Lyle of St. Louis, MO, who was a junior at Howard University in Washington, D.C. She envisioned the Sorority as an instrument for enriching the social and intellectual aspects of college life by providing mental stimulation through interaction with friends and associates.
During the academic year 1907-08 Lyle discussed this idea with several classmates and associates. Nine students met to make the initial plans. This group of nine included the Burke sisters (Beulah and Lillie), Margaret Flagg Holmes, Marjorie Hill, Lucy Slow, Marie Woolfolk Taylor, Anna Easter Brown, and Lavinia Norman. In late February 1908 seven students from the class of 1910 were admitted. These members were Joanna Berry, Norma Boyd, Ethel Jones, Sarah Meriweather, Alice Murray, Carrie Snowden and Harriet Terry. The movement to incorporate Alpha Kappa Alpha and thus ensure the Sorority’s existence as a perpetual body was led by Nellie Quander. On January 29, 1913, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority became an incorporated organization.
In the spring of 2000, longtime friends and sorority members Claudette Smith Nelson and Carrie Baptiste Jackson began to discuss the possibility of organizing a group of women who would carry on the tradition of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, by providing “service to all mankind” in East Lansing and surrounding communities. In their hearts and minds, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated was the very organization to provide empowerment and structure for needed community services while promoting sisterhood. In October 2000, Nelson and Jackson met with Rachel A. Mallory, Alpha Kappa Alpha Great Lakes Regional Director, to discuss organizing an interest group. During a second meeting in April 2001, which included fellow sorority member Mary Agnes Lipscomb, a petition and request to organize an interest group was presented to the Regional Director.
In early August 2001, the Great Lakes Regional Director contacted Nelson and Jackson and gave the long-awaited approval to organize an interest group within the structure of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. On August 23, 2001, an organizational meeting was held and The Ivy Forum was formed. On October 20, 2002, at the Kellogg Center on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, the Ivy Forum met again. Its members affirmed their commitment to the mission of Alpha Kappa Alpha, “service to all mankind,” and 36 sorority women became charter members of the Chi Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
Carrie B. Jackson
Mary A. Lipscomb
Patricia T. Quinn
Deborah V. Smith
Lori Abbott Smith
Laurin R. Thomas
Sheryl Little Thornton