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Alpha Kappa Alpha celebrates 75th year in Huntington

Jan. 26, 2013 @ 11:27 PM

HUNTINGTON -- The international president of Alpha Kappa Alpha was on hand at Marshall University Saturday to help celebrate the local chapter's 75th anniversary.

Carolyn House Stewart said the local chapter is one of the nation's oldest in Alpha Kappa Alpha's 105-year history. Now, there are 975 chapters in seven countries.

But she stressed the historical context of when Eta Zeta, Alpha Kappa Alpha's undergraduate chapter at Marshall, was founded. It was a time, she said, when women, poor people and minorities didn't have the rights and opportunities available today.

Marie Redd, the former W.Va. state senator from Huntington, also is the president of Beta Tau Omega, which is Alpha Kappa Alpha's graduate chapter at Marshall. She said Saturday's celebration shows the legacy and vision of the organization's founders.

"That is a legacy (current collegiate members) need to understand as they enter a competitive world," Redd said.

The event also was used to honor one of the 16 original founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Lavinia Norman. Norman, who died in 1982 at the age of 100, taught at Huntington's former Douglass High School -- a traditionally black school. In 1961, desegregation resulted in the closing of the school.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority was the first sorority founded by African-American women, at Howard University in 1908.

Norman was one of 16 children and grew up in Montgomery, W.Va. Her father's job with the U.S. Postal Service eventually moved them to Washington, D.C. In 1901, she started secondary work at Howard University's Preparatory School.

She went on to teach at Douglass High School for 40 years, where she also coached the school's drama team and was advisor for school newspaper.

The current undergraduate members of Eta Zeta include Taylor Davis, president; Tiffany Hubb, vice president; Breanna Franklin, treasurer; Keyaira McCauley, recording secretary; Cherrelle McCauley, corresponding secretary; Jasmine Hairston; and Kara Hornbuckle.

The current undergraduate members of Beta Tau Omega include Redd, president; Nicholette Inman, vice president; Hattie Hope, treasurer; Nichole Miller, secretary and graduate advisor; Shari Clarke, program chairperson; Lois Brown; Candace Layne; and Nancie Robinson.

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