St. Petersburg — More than 400 people along with elected officials, residents and guests joined together Dec. 18 – 20 at the beautiful St. Petersburg Hilton Hotel to celebrate the Diamond and Pearls 60th anniversary of the Zeta Upsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Under the leadership of Chapter President Cassandra Williams, sorority members hosted a weekend of planned activities including a festive holiday party on Fri., Dec. 18 and a member’s only gala on Sat., Dec. 19 to commemorate the milestone. The keynote speaker for the evening was Sharon Brown Harriott, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority South Atlantic Regional Director.
During the gala, members had a chance to travel down memory lane and view historical items collected over the years as well as pay homage to the courageous women who chartered the chapter on Dec. 15, 1955. The chartering members who have respectfully become known as the “Fifteen Pearls of ZUO” were Annie Barton, Ruth Batson, Pauline Besselli, Lena Brown, Mary O. Brown, Claronell Griffin, Bertha James, Rubye Wysinger, Dorothy Johnson, Elizabeth Jones, Annie McLin, Willie M. McMurray, Eloise E. Perkins, Verdya Robinson and Florence Williams. The first president was Lena Brown. Shortly after the chartering, nine other members transferred their membership from Gamma Theta Omega Chapter in Tampa to Zeta Upsilon Omega Chapter.
The chapter also recognized the following Golden members of the chapter who served more than 50 years: Constance Batty, Arletha Chapman, Gladys Cummings, Jean Davies, Inez Ford, Geraldine Gray, Mildred Kennedy, Keturah Pittman, Delores Whitehead, Myrtle Williams, and Elnora Parks.
“The service that our golden members have provided is a testament of our many years of hard work and service to all mankind,” said Cassandra Williams.
Collectively, the women represent over 500 years of service to the St. Petersburg community.
To culminate the weekend of activities, the chapter hosted a public event on Sun., Dec. 20. During the occasion, the sorority announced the recipients of its inaugural Community Assistance Grant awards: Sunshine ELKS, Oratorical Program – $550; Parent Support for Education Council, Inc. – $1,000; Happy Workers Learning Center, Learning Program – $1,000; City of St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg Values Program – $1,000 and L.E.A.F. – Bring Out the Dolls – $1,000.
The initiative was launched in 2015 to support the development of community service projects and increase civic engagement among youth and families. Other event highlights included a proclamation presentation by the City of St. Petersburg along with special greetings from representatives of the Divine Nine organizations and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s 28th International President, Carolyn House Stewart. Additionally, The Weekly Challenger newspaper was recognized for its ongoing commitment and dedicated service to the St. Petersburg community.
About Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. is the oldest Greek-letter organization established in America by black women and was founded on January 15, 1908, at Howard University. Led by International President Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson, the organization connects thousands of college-trained women who give of themselves to support community service projects and scholarship programs.