Last week, we concluded Black History Month with the story of the founding of Lewis College of Business, Michigan’s only HBCU. March is Women’s History Month, and as I continue the story of Dr. Violet T. Lewis and her sister Elizabeth Garner, allow me to share more about the two sisters from Detroit.
As part of the celebration of the 300th birthday of Detroit, the Detroit Historical Museum developed an exhibit, “Thirty Who Dared.” Lewis was included because she did dare to dream, opening a college to teach African-American women secretarial skills. Now, more than 80 years later, it doesn’t sound particularly exciting, but for the sake of Women’s History Month, allow me to elaborate further.
This week, you will learn how Dr. Violet T. Lewis and her sister Elizabeth Garner decided to begin a sorority for the students attending Lewis College of Business. That sorority is Gamma Phi Delta Sorority, Inc.
On Feb. 28, Gamma Phi Delta Sorority celebrated 75 years of giving service to communities throughout the country. Though Lewis College of Business began as a two-year business college, Dr. Lewis and her sister, an instructor at the college, sat down and came up with a plan to establish a sorority.
Chapters raise funds for scholarships, as well as for needy families for the holidays, including Thanksgiving baskets and Christmas clothing, toys and dinners. Youth groups have been and will continue to be included. We have Rose Buds, our young ladies in middle school, beginning from fifth grade through eighth grade. Our Phi-Teens are our high school girls through the first year college. Both subsidiaries allow our girls to learn Parliamentary Procedure, we teach them social graces, they learn how to perform in front of audiences, they have the opportunity to share their talents during our annual Artist of Tomorrow Programs. Guess who came through out talent show program, Marvin Gaye. We are pleased to share this type program with our youth.
During our National Convention, the girls participate in a lovely debutante Fantasy Swirl, escorted by our male Cavaliers. They participate in convention breakout sessions replete with speakers and workshops, which will help them to grow up much more outspoken and dynamic than their peers. It is terrific!
An example of our work: my chapter, where I’m president, is hosting our annual Butterfly Brunch, a scholarship and community fundraiser at the Camelot in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, on Saturday, March 10, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. We raise thousands of dollars to support our scholarship recipient Emari Quarles, a Temple University student who has been invited to give remarks.
Maureen Bunyan will be the Mistress of Ceremonies, while Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett will present a proclamation to our chapter, as well as Certificates of Recognition to each honoree, including guest speaker Rev. Dr. Cheryl Phillips, pastor of International Church.
It has been my pleasure to serve for 37 years the organization founded by Dr. Violet T. Lewis and her sister Elizabeth Garner. Lenor R. Reese of northern Virginia is our current Supreme Basileus. Our event chair and chapter members be decorating the Camelot with butterflies, as we raise funds to continue the great work started by Lewis and Garner. It is indeed, much more blessed to give than to receive!
Join the Gamma Phi Delta Foundation, Inc., where I serve as national president. We will cruise around the great city of Detroit on the Detroit Princess Riverboat Motown Cruise this July, as we celebrate 75 years!
Lyndia Grant is a speaker/writer living in the D.C. area. Her radio show, “Think on These Things,” airs Fridays at 6 p.m. on 1340 AM (WYCB), a Radio One station. Visit her website, www.lyndiagrantshow.com, send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 240-602-6295. Follow her on Twitter @LyndiaGrant and on Facebook.