What to know about Alpha Kappa Alpha, the historically Black sorority meeting in Dallas

Notable members of AKA include Kamala Harris, Maya Angelou and Eddie Bernice Johnson.

Vice President Kamala Harris will be in Dallas on Wednesday to speak to a gathering of Alpha Kappa Alpha, a historically Black sorority.

The sorority’s national convention is expected to draw some 20,000 members downtown to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center this week.

Harris has had a longtime connection to the organization. Wearing a pearl necklace, a symbol of AKA, Harris recognized the nine Black fraternities and sororities — known as the Divine Nine — in her speech at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.


“Family is my beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha, our Divine Nine, and my HBCU brothers and sisters,” Harris, a member of AKA, said at the time.

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The Divine Nine, known formally as the National Pan-Hellenic Council, consists of historically Black fraternities and sororities: Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Delta Sigma Theta, Phi Beta Sigma, Zeta Phi Beta, Sigma Gamma Rho and Iota Phi Theta.

Here’s what to know about AKA:


History of AKA

AKA was founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1908. Howard student Ethel Hedgeman Lyle wanted to create a supportive network for women who shared similar goals, according to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Lyle worked with several other women to draft a constitution and finalize a name, motto and colors, salmon pink and apple green. The use of the iconic color combination by non-”Sorors,” including an actress in character, has drawn criticism by some of the members.


It is the oldest Greek-letter organization established by Black college women, according to the sorority’s website. Its founders were among the fewer than 1,000 Black women enrolled in higher education institutions at the time.

Sorority’s mission

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority was founded on five basic tenets that have remained unchanged, according to its site. The sorority aims to cultivate and encourage high scholastic and ethical standards; to promote unity and friendship among college women; to study and help alleviate problems concerning girls and women in order to improve their social stature; to maintain a progressive interest in college life; and to be of “Service to All Mankind.”

Notable members

The sorority has more than 360,000 initiated members in graduate and undergraduate chapters in 12 countries, including the United States, Bermuda, Canada, Dubai, Germany, Japan, Nigeria, South Korea and South Africa.

In addition to Harris, notable members include poet Maya Angelou, late U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, singer Alicia Keys, and civil rights leaders Coretta Scott King and Rosa Parks. Many of the women were inducted as honorary members.

The sorority’s president and CEO is retired corporate executive Danette Anthony Reed, who lives in North Texas.