ADZ chapter to celebrate 85 yrs of public service
By Dr. Theresa Green
JA Guest Writer
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, was founded on January 16, 1920, at Howard University in Washington D.C. The sorority takes pride in its continued participation in transforming communities through volunteer services from members and its auxiliaries. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority has chartered hundreds of chapters worldwide and has a membership of 100,000+. It holds a distinctive place among the other sororities and fraternities (Divine Nine) for its long-established reputation as a community-conscious action-oriented organization. Subsequently, eighteen years later, in Jackson, Mississippi, the impact of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority’s growth moved (for the first time) below the Mason-Dixon Line. On October 14, 1938, within a Jim Crow environment at the height of the Great Depression, in a small but growing Black professional West Jackson community, Alpha Delta Zeta Chapter was chartered by eight extraordinary women at 723 Rose Street. The charter members were Frances M. Alexander, Helen Allen Cooper, Birdie Graves Winters, Jennie O. Johnson, Julia Stutts Polk, Mable Roseman Sims, Mollye Young Sims, and Estelle G. Young.
In 1938, 723 Rose Street was the home to one of Mississippi’s first African American medical doctors, Dr. R. L. Johnson, and the music professor extraordinaire, Jennie O. Johnson, a charter member of Alpha Delta Zeta Chapter and renowned graduate of Julliard School of Music, New York. She was also Grand Matron of the O.E.S. There is a chapter named for her – O.E.S. Jennie O. Johnson, Chapter #470. Charter Members Birdie Graves Winter and Julia Stutts Polk were among the early teachers at Smith Robertson (the first school for coloreds in Jackson). Charter members Mollye Young and Estell Young were the sister and sister-in-law, respectively, to Jack Young, one of the three African-American attorneys who worked to dismantle legalized segregation by representing hundreds of litigants and defendants who challenged Mississippi’s Jim Crow laws. Jack Young was also a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Mu Sigma Chapter.
Since 1938, charter members have gone on to influence the chartering of over 50 graduate and undergraduate chapters in communities and on college and university campuses across the state.
Working in conjunction with the sorority’s national programs, the chapter has contributed much to the cultural, educational, religious, civic, and social development of the State of Mississippi through various activities in the Greater Jackson Metropolitan Area. These developments include, but are not limited to, the first Dental Health Program (1949) utilizing the first female dentist in Mississippi, the first Debutante (1958) and Blue Revue (1948) presentations for young Black girls and community organizers, a Stork’s Nest (1976) in conjunction with the March of Dimes (originally located at 2050 Whitfield Mills Road and later moved to the Jackson Medical Mall (2004) – Suite 3130). The Stork’s Nest works to reduce the number of low birth weight and mortality rates as well as provide support for premature awareness in the African American communities; owns and operates a tutorial complex (1989) at 4410 Hanging Moss Road. The chapter members supported the election of its members to become the first African American female Chancery Court Judge in Mississippi in 1989, Judge Patricia D. Wise, (17th president of Alpha Delta Zeta-1994-1998); the first elected Black female Circuit Judge in Jackson in 1998, Judge Tomie T. Green, (Zeta Crystal Dove representing 50+ service years); and the first elected Black female District Attorney in the State of Mississippi in 2001, Judge Eleanor Faye Peterson, who now leads this premier chapter as the 26th president (2022-2024).
Alpha Delta Zeta currently has 180 active members who serve the community through its national initiative, ZHOPE (Zetas Helping Other People Excel). In 2021, Alpha Delta Zeta established the R.O.S.E3 Foundation to support its charitable and philanthropic goals in the Jackson Community.
Exciting plans have been made to commemorate Alpha Delta Zeta’s eight decades of involvement in the Metro Jackson community. Get ready for the lights, the cameras, and the action on Saturday, October 21, 2023. The morning begins with the unveiling of a historical marker at 723 Rose Street, the exact lot where the chapter was chartered, now owned by the chapter. All are invited to share this historical moment. The unveiling begins at 10:00 a.m. Later that evening in downtown Jackson, Alpha Delta Zeta will host its 85th Chapter Anniversary Gala at the Westin. The theme is “Timeless Reflections of Service.” Doors open at 6:20 p.m. Come early for the silent auction and cocktails. The celebration begins at 7:20 p.m.
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