Theta Lambda Omega – Our Legacy
In 1903, W. E. B. DuBois, a prominent leader in the African-American community, wrote that “The Negro race, like all races, we will be saved by its exceptional men” because “from the very first it has, been the educated and intelligent of the Negro people that have led and elevated the masses.” He distinguished this group as the “Talented Tenth” for he knew that it was only this intelligent and educated group who could navigate the delicate terrain of emotions, politics, and folkways of the majority white American nation to greater equality and reward for every African-American who would follow behind.
Every college-educated African-American knew they had a charge. While some focused-on empowerment within their person circles of control, others like the sisters of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated branched out as a greater force through sisterhood and service. Cornelia Pickney Jackson, affectionately known as Connie, was one of these formidable women. While she became a member of the illustrious sisterhood in 1946 at Alpha Pi Chapter at Clark-Atlanta University, it was her work to forge the sisterhood ahead in Pontiac, Michigan that created the legacy of Theta Lambda Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
It was a time when individual African-Americans began to take a collective responsibility for the plight of their people. As they began to make individual decisions, they constantly reflected on how they could advance their people and the nation as a whole. Connie, an educator, took this charge seriously. While taking care of her family, she also pursed leadership within professional and social arenas. She became the first African-American voted to the Michigan Educational Association, a professional union for teachers, and she was fearless in her pursuit to charter a graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority to work in the Pontiac community.
As the barriers of discrimination and prejudice were broken throughout the 1960’s, and more and more African American women became residents of the city. According to her fellow charter member, Joan Vaughn Walker, Connie became the proverbial seeker of Alpha Kappa Alpha sisters. She worked to gather sisters in the area, Marie Jenkins, Catherine Craig, Daisy Payne and Joyce Tucker. With the addition of those members that arrived throughout that time, Yvonne Peery, Eloise Skeen and Joan Vaughn Walker, Connie was able to organize an interest group, called the AKTIVATORS of Alpha Kappa Alpha.
The AKTIVATORS became true to the pledge of “Service to all Mankind” by getting involved in the community doing the following:
- Adopted the Golden Age Senior Citizens group
- Giving Thanksgiving baskets to the needy
- Hosting Toys for Tots for Christmas
- Sponsored the Bell Chorale in concert
While the AKTIVATORS continued service in the Pontiac Community, the worked with members of Eta Iota Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated in Inkster, Michigan to initiate six women interested in joining the sisterhood as Corporate office required at least fifteen active members in any given area.
Finally, on November 19, 1966, Theta Lambda Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated was chartered by sitting Great Lakes Regional Director, Thelma Hollis.
The Charter Members were:
- Fannie Brownlee
- Priscilla Byas
- Cecile Donegan
- Janice Hatchett
- Cornelia Jackson
- LeBertha Johnson
- Clydell Jones
- Lucille Northcross
- Daisy Payne
- Beatrice Ringgold
- Evergrace Seay
- Eloise Skeen
- Joyce Tucker
- Joan Vaughn Walker
- Fostine Watson
- Carolyn Wheeler
- Eloise Young
Theta Lambda Omega became the first African American Female Greek Letter Organization to be chartered in the city of Pontiac and the legacy of sisterhood and timeless service to all mankind was set into motion.