Alpha Kappa Alpha Women Lead
*This is a special post for my sorority sisters at Alpha Kappa Alpha, but the tips here apply to any community organization or individual looking to tackle an issue through advocacy. If that’s you, then read on!
If you’ve heard me give my talk, “Leaders Turn Moments Into Movements: Leading to Inspire Change,” you know that the very first moment I remember volunteering was with my mother. It was on a Saturday and I was in elementary school. My mother and her sorority sisters organized something called the Ivy Reading Academy. The ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated – Eta Chi Omega Chapter in Lafayette, LA were mostly school teachers and they would gather early on their day off to teach children how to read. While they did this work, I had a very sweet job (literally): I was responsible for handing out punch and cookies to the students.
In this very moment that my mother and her sorors were leading, they spurred a movement within me. That experience instilled in me a love for volunteerism and giving back to the communities I’m part of.
Below is a file to download. Simply click on the button to view the image and then right click and select save as.
Political Engagement is a Priority
Today, I’ll sit on a panel at Alpha Kappa Alpha’s International Conference called “Boule.” It’s part of a political engagement forum hosted by the Connection Committee, which studies issues that impact the quality of life across the U.S. and around the world and then engages Alpha Kappa Alpha women to formulate and recommend position statements to the international president and board of directors. Participants will learn how to get more engaged at the local, state and national level during today’s forum. These women are ready to get their hands dirty and invest in the tools needed to catalyze action.
For all those attending today’s panel (and those who can’t make it!), here are some steps you can take to move the needle.
- Hearts that are loyal. You’ll want to sign up for my updates at www.terribwilliams.com. This will allow you to download the Movement Map, an asset for those who want to start movements in their community. It will help you identify how you can have a true, measurable impact.
- By merit and culture. Once you have identified a cause, commit to it and pledge to go deep. For example, we know that childhood obesity disproportionately impacts the African-American community. If this is an issue your chapter wants to take on, learn everything you can about how childhood obesity affects your community and about related social justice issues. For example, if childhood obesity will be a focus of your chapter, what do you know about food deserts?
- We strive. How much capital— financial, human, etc.—is your chapter willing to invest? The Movement Map is a great resource in guiding these decisions and determining next steps.
- And we do. Next, you’ll want to write a political engagement plan. There are a lot of things to include in this plan:
- Are sorors willing to sit on a city/county/state board or commission around this issue? If so, how do you make it happen?
- Do sorors in your chapter serve as elected or appointed officials or serve as commissioners? Do any members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council serve in these roles? Don’t forget to list those who previously served as public servants. (Note: These will be some of your fiercest champions.)
- Are sorors willing to write letters-to-the-editor or op-eds on the issue to local newspapers?
- Are sorors willing to testify at city council, county commissioners court, or at the state legislature on the issues?
- Are there regulatory statements you can make to support or oppose the issue?
- How can the chapter educate the public on the issue?
- Can the chapter endorse the issue publicly?
- Is the chapter ready to help a soror run for public office?
- Can the chapter help a soror receive a political appointment?
- Can the chapter afford to make political signs, bumper stickers or buttons?
- What type of press and social media can the chapter generate around the issue?
- What aspects of the policy issue will you back? At what point will you walk away if the policy doesn’t do enough to help the community?
- And, most important of all: does the issue help address a social equity issue that benefits the community that the chapter serves?
These are types of questions you want to consider as you begin to write a political engagement plan. Check out the tools on my blog as they are released, or visit websites like PolicyLink, NAACP or National Urban League for additional resources. And of course, if you’re a community organization substitute Soror with your organization’s members and Chapter with your organization’s name. No matter who you are feel free to email me if you need clarification or help!
All Politics are Local
Here are some political issues where you might want to consider investing time and effort. I’ve noticed they are common among Alpha Kappa Alpha Chapters.. Note, though, by sharing these issues, I’m not endorsing them.
- National Women’s History Museum;
- Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative;
- A Seat at the Table (a new initiative that launched last week by the Democratic National Party);
- Childhood obesity;
- Criminal justice reform;
- Educational reform efforts like ESSA;
- Prescription drug costs for seniors;
- Voting registration.
As pearls, the world is your oyster, especially when it comes to the ways you can become politically engaged. If you want to talk about advocacy at a Founder’s Day, I’m also happy to send you the speech and PowerPoint that I presented in 2016. It’s a great starting point for chapters who are just getting into this work. Like so many of our sorority sisters, I am committed to helping you build movements. United, we’ll forge away.
Enjoy ‘Boule,’ sorors. I hope that you’ll stay connected with me through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Medium and/or my blog. I also hope that you’ll share with me what change you want to ignite in your community. I hope you download the wallpaper that I made especially for you. May it serve as a reminder of the power of your pearls in our community! Skee wee! #movementmakertribe #AKABoule1908
Not familiar with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated? Visit www.aka1908 to learn more about the world’s first and largest African-American Sorority, founded in 1908.
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