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Sisterhood and Legends Luncheon: A Celebration of Empowerment, Enthusiasm, and Energy By Dr. Francesca A. Armmer



Sitting left to right: Dr. Rita Ali, Joyce Banks, and Rosemary McCullough Standing l to r: Sonya Nevels Pacey standing in for Ronda Guyton, Angela Henry standing in for Elise F. Allen, Diane Hines and Elaine Gordon. Photos by Elijah Sansom

As the Women of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Peoria Alumnae Chapter approached the Third Annual Sisterhood and Legends Luncheon the weather was repeated cycles of rain, snow, sleet, and ice. And yet on Saturday, March 24, 2018, at the George Washington Carver Center, this ground breaking celebration was held with a near capacity audience in attendance. What was the appeal that caused so many persons to “brave the elements” to attend this celebration?

The overarching appeal has been captured by the Women of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Peoria Alumnae Chapter. It is the fostering of a celebration of Women whose energy, enthusiasm, and empowerment has made and continues to make a difference in the lives of all whom they touch. It is this celebration that combines rather than divides, that builds up rather than tears down, and that provides an opportunity to recognize women who oftentimes may be overlooked as “invisible.”

Was this celebration full of energy? Absolutely! Was this celebration full of enthusiasm? Incredibly! Was this an empowering celebration? Undeniably!

Based upon a vision from the Arts and Letters committee of the Peoria Alumnae Chapter, a year of ongoing meeting, planning, and organizing took place. It was important that a sustained commitment to the vision of this project was embraced in preparation of this third year. Who is my Sister? What makes this groundbreaking annual celebration important and even necessary for a third year? Central to answering these and other questions are the themes of “empowerment, enthusiasm, and energy.” The Arts and Letters Committee of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority was careful to align this celebration with the mission of our National Arts and Letters Commission, seeking to advance the African American experience to shine a light on the contributions of African American people, locally, statewide, and nationally.

The Sisters component of the luncheon is maintained to foster unity between the four major sororities of the National Panhellenic Association; Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Sigma Gamma Rho, and Zeta Phi Beta. One central platform of our National Panhellenic Council is that of collaboration with a focus on demonstrating service to the community.

Who is a “Legend?” How were the honorees selected? To address these questions, it was determined that each of the Sister sororities would receive guidelines and processes for identification of the two women that they would submit as Legends. It was emphasized that the designated Legends by each of the sororities could be an esteemed community member and did not necessarily have to be a member of the respective sorority.

The outcome of this Third Annual Sisterhood and Legends Luncheon was superb! Eight women were identified as Legends. These African American women have communicated a life of enthusiasm and power; of hope and healing; and of integrity. And through their lives all of us have “etched in our hearts” a spirit of “can do” and an unyielding desire to be an example of encouragement to others. Their lives have reflected a community activism on local, state, and national levels. The depth and breadth of their contributions reflected a total of over 200 years of contribution to our community. Contributions were reflected in educational enhancements, political awareness, economic developments, media and communication awareness, and spiritual growth.

Through the initiative of the Women of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. a signature event has been established that shall continue to “sing” of our frequently unsung (s) heroes. In this our Third Annual Celebration, as we honor these inspirational, invincible African American women, we shall honor ourselves.

Again, CONGRATULATIONS to our eight 2018 LEGENDS: Rita Ali, Elise Allen, Joyce Banks, Elaine Gordon, Ronda Guyton, Diane Hines, Rosemary McCullough, and Jean Polk.