By Aubree Ashtynn Dumas
During Women’s History Month, the Morristown Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, presented to more than 80 guests a virtual celebration of art, heritage, and women’s empowerment. The chapter’s “Black Women Empowered: Our Stories” forum offered something engaging for everyone – song, dance, spoken word, and intellectual discourse – all in salute of Black womanhood.
The evening commenced with a video about the rich history of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and Morristown Alumnae’s imprint in Morris County, New Jersey, since its chartering in 1987. The video highlighted the indelible mark the chapter has made in its catchment area through its numerous voter registration drives; Delta GEMS, Delta Academy, and EMBODI youth programs; college scholarships; and volunteerism with and support of many community-based organizations.
Following the video, the event producers treated viewers to performances by vocalist Zuumah Gayemen, dancer Aubree Ashtynn Dumas, and poet Ryann Tucker, each a member of Morristown Alumnae. Interwoven among the performances, the program featured installations of the chapter’s Red Print exhibition and a panel discussion with four of New Jersey’s Black leading ladies.
Through written narratives and photography, the Red Print exhibition aesthetically extolled the trailblazing accomplishments of local Black women. “Red Print – A Tribute to Educators,” initially unveiled in 2019, honors trendsetting Black women in education. “Red Print – Heartbeat,” introduced at the inception of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, fittingly commends the pioneering efforts of Black nurses. “Red Print – Unbought and Unbossed,” the most recent installation and a nod to the late Shirley Chisholm, recognizes Black women in politics. Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress and the first Black candidate for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States, was a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
The panel discussion, moderated by Morristown Alumnae member, Dr. Kesha Moore, focused on disparities in health care, education, and voters’ rights in Black communities. Panelists included Dr. Christine Johnson, a physician from Maplewood Family Medicine in Maplewood, New Jersey; Morristown Alumnae member, Dr. Lynda Lynn Wright, founder of Three Stages Childcare and Learning Center in East Orange, New Jersey; Ori Obiwumi, president of the Morris County Young Democrats; and Tahesha Way, Esq., Secretary of State of the State of New Jersey. Each openly shared her story and expertise, offered words of inspiration, and encouraged members of the audience to take an active stand in their communities.
“’Black Women Empowered: Our Stories’ was a wonderful collaboration among several chapter committees: Arts and Letters; Social Action; Heritage Celebration; and Information, Communications and Technology,” stated Chapter President Marian Sykes Johnson. “I am very proud of their collective effort and pleased we could share valuable information with the community while showcasing the steeped heritage of our chapter and the impressive talent of our members.”