Unearthing the Histories of Black Women in Higher Education
One of the most intriguing bits of history I’ve encountered during this project is the relationships between Black and white fraternities. The first Black Greek-letter organization on campus was none other than the Delta Xi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. On May 16, 1959, Delta Xi charter members Alnita F. Rettig, Jerry Ann Cannon, Barbara Caruthers, Evelyn Deason, Donna Licia Guess, Mamie Flora Hans, Miriam Jean Jones, Bettye Joanne McAdams, Carolyn Nan Mims, Doris Price, Mary Simpson, Walta Marie Smith, Janice Strickland, Gloria D. Truscott, and Mabel Joyce Wilson officially integrated Greek organizations at the University of Texas.
Despite this progress, integration did not prevent harassment of Black students by other organizations. Stories of white fraternities remaining off-campus in an attempt to exclude other demographics from joining their organization was one of many loopholes utilized after all on-campus organizations were required to integrate in 1961. To get a better understanding of the ever-evolving socio-political climate of UT Austin, be sure to check out our digital archive containing photographs, oral history interviews, and transcripts of the Delta Xi Chapter.
The honorable Delta Xi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. was the first Black Greek-letter organization to be established at The University of Texas at Austin. Sworn in on May 16, 1959, at high noon in the Queen Anne Room, this particular group of women is dripping in legacy, poignant programs, community service, and rich history. As an archivist in training, with the unique opportunity to not only archive an oral history but curate it from scratch, I see it as my duty to extract the essence and diversity of these highly valuable experiences among the Delta Xi women. This blog series will contain three parts, one published each month during the summer of 2021.Continue reading “Curating an Oral History of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority at The University of Texas || Part I”
As the 2019-2020 AKA Scholars Black Diaspora Archive Intern, Zaria El-Fil curated an exhibition documenting Black student activism on UT’s campus in the 1970s. Campus closure due to COVID-19 prevented the exhibition from happening, but you can read more about Zaria’s research and experience using the John L. Warfield Papers in the 2019-2020 issue of Portal: Web Magazine of LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collection found here.
In 2017, the BDA began a strategic initiative to increase the Benson’s acquisition of rare books featuring Black Diaspora subjects. In its first year, this project brought in eight new titles, including three books from Jamaican graphic novelist Andrew Francis’ series, The Cat.