By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. Editor
Starting Jan. 15, groups of women in deep blue and white apparel, often with Greek lettering, could be spotted throughout D.C. for the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Centennial Week.
Zeta’s International Centennial President Valerie Hollingsworth Baker kicked off the week with an unveiling of an exclusive line of Zeta-inspired St. John apparel on Jan. 12 at the Queenstown Premium Outlets in Maryland; by Wednesday, Washington, D.C. turned into the hub for the centennial celebration.
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority celebrated its Centennial Week in the nation’s capital. (Courtesy Photo)
“This is a historic moment for Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. Finally, our epic Centennial celebration begins. I am elated to be leading these amazing women at this time in our history,” said Hollingsworth Baker.”
“We are thrilled to welcome our sisters who are travelling from across the world to Washington D.C. Together, we will commemorate all that we have accomplished in the last 100 years and look forward with anticipation to what we will achieve next,” the International Centennial president added.
Events in the nation’s capital featured: D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, attorney and Zeta member Anita Hill, former Congresswoman and Zeta member Donna Edwards, award-winning journalist April Ryan, actors Vivica A. Fox and Lamman Rucker, R&B artist Raheem DeVaughn, the Chuck Brown Band and the Zeta International Choir, according to a press release submitted by the organization.
There were a slew of events hosted for Centennial Week in the nation’s capital, kicking off with the “Founders’ Midnight Celebration” at Howard University, the birthplace of the sorority, where the University Drum Line, Jacques Johnson, Zeta member DJ Poizon Ivy and DJ Heat performed. Singer and Zeta member Syleena Johnson served as the mistress of ceremony.
On Jan. 16, the sorority leaders unveiled the “Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Founders’ Bust,” during the “Centennial Experience,” which started at 3 p.m. at the Washington Hilton Hotel.
This AFRO archive shows members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. They are, from left to right, seated Sorors Evelyn Young, Gertrude Cox, Mable Scruggs (basileus), Ellen Chambers, and Ruth Caldwell; standing, Sorors Rose Morgan, B. Brown, E. Berry, and Lorene Hight.
The AFRO was in the building for the “Centennial Experience,” where thousands of Zetas wore their sorority’s paraphernalia, caught up with old friends, met new sisters, screamed and danced and celebrated in the 100th anniversary of the organization’s founding.
There D.M.V. natives DeVaughn, with the assistance of Wes Felton, who is also in the band The Crossrhodes with the singer, performed songs of empowerment for women, in honor of the centennial celebration.
As Devaugn sang songs like “Woman,” the AFRO caught up with centennial attendees on the importance of the occasion.
“I’ve been a Zeta for five years. I’m a legacy Zeta and my mother is Zeta and has been for 50 years,” said Gionne Jones, a member of Tau Delta Zeta Chapter out of Laurel.
Jones considered the importance of the centennial celebration in relation to the sorority’s founders.
Singers Raheem DeVaughn and Wes Felton perform at the Zeta Phi Beta Centennial Experience at the Washington Hilton on Jan. 16. (Photo by Micha Green)
“I think this is important for us to see that 100 years ago, five young ladies wanted to step out and do something different, and to see the proof that grow 100 years later, and the way that we’re able to serve the community, the way that we’re able to make an impact in our community, I think they would be pleased,” Jones said.
Michelle Harris, a member of the Eta Omicron Zeta chapter in Plainfield. Harris came to the centennial from Newark for the celebration, as she commemorates 100 years of the sorority and four decades as a member of the organization.
“I’m excited because this is my 40th year as a Zeta and as a young Zeta and a collegiate, you embrace the principles and the work, and you do the work, but in terms of forging your career, you don’t get often to participate in the great gatherings such as this,” Harris said.
A lawyer by craft, Harris said that as she’s been honing her profession, she hadn’t been able to participate in many celebrations.
“It’s great because I find that the very things that attracted me to the sorority as a collegiate, now as a working adult with life experience, the importance of those service aspects is the same, and I find that I can contribute on an even greater level.”
Harris hoped to encourage her younger sorors to continue the values of community service as she attended the centennial celebrations.
Other events included a celebration at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Rhapsody in Blue Fashion Show Extravaganza, an opportunity for Zetas to distribute 5,000 blanket and toiletries to D.C.’s homeless community, a Sisterhood Day-into-Night Denim and Pearls Party, the Finer Womanhood Empowerment Summit and the Centennial Founders’ Gala.