"If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be."
- Maya Angelou, American Poet and Alpha Kappa Alpha Soror
In 1908, a group of female college students at Howard University decided it was time to turn the tide on gender and racial inequality. These nine courageous women approached the President of the university with the intent to form an exclusive sisterhood, to assist women, particularly African American women, to become successful in a world where women were commonly discriminated against because of their race and gender. This small group of students believed that they could, together, help change people’s lives for the better, by binding together and passionately serving their beloved community. And, they did.
Ethel Hedgeman, the founder of Alpha Kappa Alpha, inspired women “to use our torch to light the darkness that we each face,” says Karol Widemon Montgomery, the current president of Phi Pi Omega, the sorority’s local chapter here in Fayette and Coweta counties. Alpha Kappa Alpha’s 2018-2022 focus is Exemplifying Excellence Through Sustainable Service. Programs offered to the community include providing education and resources for the college admission process, creating financial fitness, promoting the arts, and championing women’s health and wellness.
Alpha Kappa Alpha stands as an international organization, spanning more than 300,000 members and 1026 chapters across the globe. To qualify as a member, a young lady must be a full-time college student and have a minimum grade point average. To join as a graduate member, a woman must have completed college with at least a baccalaureate degree with a minimum GPA. While the undergraduate chapters sit on college campuses, the graduate sororities are seeded in the cities. Membership is by invitation only. Each soror is responsible for providing service to her community from the time she is welcomed into the organization.
Karol Widemon Montgomery and fellow sisters of the Phi Pi Omega (PPO) chapter of Fayette and Coweta counties are passionate about sharing their education and experience to help people in the communities succeed in life. “I joined AKA to serve people. Excelling in my education was not enough. My mother was also an AKA, and I saw her service to her family and friends as I grew up,” says Ms. Montgomery. Through her leadership with her team, she creates and develops programs that help uplift lives. Some of the core programs are educating and mentoring children in grades 6-10; creating global Impact assistance through conversations with women entrepreneurs; executing lunch and learn and training webinars; providing art-related education; hosting annual health expos, and breast cancer initiatives; and, recently, providing relief for those affected by the tornado in Coweta county. In addition, the local chapter sisters raise funds each year for organizations, including the Hedera Foundation, Promise Place, One Roof, AARP and the American Heart Association.
With such an extensive membership base, AKA frequently holds annual international and regional meetings to foster leadership, friendship and fellowship among its members. Regional conferences are held in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. Because of the pandemic, conferences are currently aired virtually. This platform has opened new doors for the sorority through expanding its reach to different communities. With Ethel Hedgeman Lyle as their guiding light, Ms. Widemon and her 170+ sorors of PPO continue to forge ahead to provide servant-leadership services to their beloved communities of Fayette and Coweta.
To learn more about the AKA mission, visit the websites of the local chapters and the AKA international site at www.aka1908.com.