Delta Sigma Theta Sorority

Delta Sigma Theta was founded by college-educated women dedicated to public service with an emphasis on programs that assist the African American community. It was founded on January 13, 1913 by twenty-two women at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

The sorority is one of the largest sororities founded in the U.S. and has more than 350,000 initiated members who are college-educated women. The sorority currently has over 1,000 chapters located in the Bahamas, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bermuda, Canada, England, Germany, Jamaica, Japan, West Africa and South Africa, South Korea, United Kingdom, and the United States.


Motto: “Intelligence is the Torch of Wisdom”

Founded: January 13, 1913, Howard University, Washington, D.C.

Headquarters: Washington, D.C.

Colors: Crimson; Cream

Member number: over 350,000 members


Affiliation: Delta Sigma Theta is also a member of the umbrella organization National Pan-Hellenic Council(NPHC) – an organization of nine international Black Greek-letter sororities and fraternities.

Program expansion: 1931–1955

The incorporation of the Sorority in 1930 allowed Delta Sigma Theta Sorority to legally continue its expansion of chapters. Prior to the establishment of perpetual bodies, new chapters had to apply for separate charters within their respective localities. However, with the national organization incorporated, chartering chapters became easier for regional leadership. The National Library Project was established in 1937 to provide access to books for Blacks in rural areas of the South where either no libraries were located, or they were not accessible to Blacks.

Further programs focused on women’s and civil rights: 1956–1970

Delta had previously moved toward having some uniformity of programming among chapters, with two international programs abroad. As it began its fifth decade of existence, the organization wanted to ensure that all chapters would focus their programming around one national centralized theme. Thus, the Five Point Thrust was implemented in 1956 by 10th National President Dorothy Height.

Participation in the 1913 Women’s Suffrage March

Less than two months after the sorority’s founding, members of Delta Sigma Theta participated in the historic 1913 Women’s Suffrage March on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. with other Howard University girls, on March 3, 1913. Black female marchers were subjected to racism, not only by people who were opposed to the enfranchisement of women, but by march organizers reluctant to advocate suffrage for black women.

May Week

May Week was created at the second national convention in 1920 at Wilberforce University. Local chapters began to observe it beginning in 1921. The purpose of May Week is to emphasize the importance of higher education in the community, especially for black women.

Delta Sigma Theta Jabberwock

Jabberwock, an annual variety show consisting of cultural expression and talent – such as music, skits, and dance – was initiated by Marion Conover-Hope in 1925 in Boston, MA. Locally produced Jabberwock shows served as fundraisers for many chapters of the sorority

Job Analysis and Opportunity Project

The Job Analysis and Opportunity Project began in 1941. It was to provide career, employment counseling, and job exposure for black women. The sorority created the program to address concerns that black women were limited in their choices of occupations, and that they lacked training because of the economy and World War II.

The National Library Project

The sorority’s first nationwide effort to provide library services in the rural South was the National Library Project, which it authorized in 1937. The program was implemented in 1945, with the goal to establish a traveling library in the South, where library services were not generally available for blacks, both because of segregation and because so many blacks lived in rural areas, which had fewer services

The Delta Challenge: Delta Homeownership Initiative

In 2003, the “Delta Challenge: DST Homeownership Initiative” was created to assist sorority members, family, friends, and the general public with owning their homes and investing in homeownership. The program is a resource for individuals seeking information about homeownership; wishing to locate a loan representatives who partners with the Delta Challenge; information about mortgage insurance or other benefits; or who has questions regarding real estate or related financial topics.

Financial Fortitude: Smart Women Finish Rich

Financial Fortitude was designed to help sorority members and local communities to attain personal wealth and financial security. Financial Fortitude was established as a result of increasing unemployment, Social Security debts, and the widening gap between wealth and poverty.

Delta Towers I

In 1979, Delta Sigma Theta’s Washington D.C. Alumnae Chapter and Delta’s Housing Corporation planned and constructed Delta Towers as a multimillion-dollar, ten-story building. Delta Towers opened for occupancy in 1980. Delta Sigma Theta established Delta Towers in the northeast area of Washington, D.C. Delta Towers is an apartment building for elderly and disabled individuals.

Delta Towers II

The Washington D.C. Alumnae Chapter’s Delta Housing Corporation is planning to construct Delta Towers II. Delta Towers II will provide 150 additional safe and affordable apartments for low to moderate income senior citizens. Delta Towers II will be designed to provide a senior citizen wellness center, ground level commercial office and retail services, and a community room

The Total Woman: Mind, Body, and Spirit Lifestyle Change Initiative

The Total Woman: Mind, Body, and Spirit Lifestyle Change Initiative impacts the well-being of sorority members and members’ families and communities at-large. The Lifestyle Change initiative was started in 2004 by the Health Taskforce, providing physical and mental health expertise.

Dr. Betty Shabazz Delta Academy

Dr. Betty Shabazz’s Delta Academy (“Catching the Dreams of Tomorrow, Preparing Young Women For the 21st Century”) is designed for girls ages 11 to 14, who have an interest in developing leadership skills. The program is named in honor of sorority member, the late Dr. Betty Shabazz, wife of Malcolm X. It is for girls who demonstrate the potential for success, but may not have support systems or access to financial resources.

Delta GEMS: Growing and Empowering Myself Successfully

Delta GEMS is an outgrowth and continuation of the Dr. Betty Shabazz Delta Academy Program. Delta GEMS was created to assist in facilitating the dreams and goals of at-risk, adolescent African-American girls, aged 14–18. Goals for Delta GEMS are:

    1. To instill academic excellence
    2. To provide tools permitting the girls to sharpen and enhance their skills to achieve academic success
    3. To assist girls in setting and planning proper goal for their futures in high school and beyond
    4. To create compassionate, caring, and community minded young women by active involvement in community service opportunities.

The Delta GEMS framework has five major components (Scholarship, Sisterhood, “Show Me the Money”, Service, and Infinitely Complete), which forms a road map for college and career planning.

Empowering Males to Build Opportunities for Developing Independence (EMBODI)

The EMBODI (Empowering Males to Build Opportunities for Developing Independence) program is designed to refocus the efforts of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., with the support and action of other major organizations, on the plight of African-American males.

$1 million endowed scholarship at Howard University

In honor of the 22 Founders, in January 2003, members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., as a part of the four-day celebration of the Sorority’s 90th anniversary, then National President Gwendolyn Boyd, presented Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert with a check for $1 million as an endowed scholarship, completely paid in full

World AIDS Day

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority supported the World AIDS campaign in observance of World AIDS Day, on December 1, 2008. With the slogan “Stop AIDS! Keep the Promise”, Delta Sigma Theta promotes workshops, programs, and information dissemination. Individual chapters and members continue increasing awareness of HIV/AIDS in the community

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