We talked to Alpha Kappa Alpha members on what their fellow sorority sister’s inauguration means to them.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has a link to hundreds of thousands of women across the country: they’re sorority sisters.
On Wednesday, Harris will enter the White House as the first woman and person of color ever to be elected to the vice presidency. Her achievement is made even more special for the women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (AKA) who now have a personal connection to the West Wing.
“Every time I think about it, I get chills,” Brianna Hayes told COURIER. She joined AKA while at the University of Oregon in 2017 and is currently enrolled in her local alumni chapter. “It makes me so excited because for one thing Kamala Harris is a woman who represents so many other women and that representation is everything.”
Hayes explained that Harris is living proof of how far hard work and dedication will take a person.
“I didn’t have that direct example when I was coming up. My parents didn’t go to college, nobody in my family went to law school, but now look at our vice president elect, I identify with her,” Hayes said. “Especially with her being in AKA that just seals the deal.”
Mentorship and representation are clear themes within AKA and her members.
“Vice President-elect Harris’ success is what AKA grooms members for,” said Carolyn Randolph who joined the Alpha Psi Omega chapter in 1984. “This is a full-circle moment for the sorority and it comes at a time as we celebrate 113 years.”
The sorority celebrated its founders last week. AKA was created in 1908 by nine college students at Howard University, they highlight the importance of personal and professional development of its members and work towards social change. Since its first chapter, the sorority has grown to 300,000 total members.
“AKA trains women to be leaders in their communities and beyond,” Randolph said. “When Harris is sworn in, this single act alone will pay homage to the tireless efforts of all women across our country to their commitment to a more inclusive society and government.”
Both Hayes and Randolph also mentioned the connectedness between sisters that makes it easy to reach out for a helping hand.
“When I was in Nashville, if a lady found out that I was a sorority sister it was like she took me under her wing,” Hayes said. “It’s something that you turn around and want to give back and that’s evident with every member that we have.”
The group is also passionate about its goals even after members leave college campuses. Peggy Lewis LeCompte was first initiated into the Alpha Iota chapter of AKA at Lincoln University and is still active raising funds and volunteering her time.
“We don’t stop after college, after you graduate we join a graduate chapter so for the last 40 plus years I’ve been a member of the Delta Delta Omega chapter,” she said. “For the last two or three years, we’ve raised about a million dollars for the NAACP and the United Negro College Fund.”
When Harris was first named President-elect Joe Biden’s running mate for the 2020 election, donations of $19.08 flowed to the Democratic National Committee from AKA sisters signaling their support. For lifelong members of the sorority, Wednesday’s inauguration is the culmination of over a hundred years of hard work, support, and connectedness.
“I am extremely proud as an American-African woman, and especially as a member of AKA to have VP-Elect Harris take office. Just letting it sink in is an amazing feeling to know a Black woman will be the 2nd in command in the most powerful country in the world,” Randolph said. “Excellence is in our DNA.”