AKA Sorority Presents Colorful Picture

This week thousands of African-American women dressed in pink and green are in Washington to celebrate the centenary of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, the nation's oldest black sorority. The group is known for its commitment to community service.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

This week we've been transfixed by some of the most colorful visitors we've ever seen in Washington, D.C. Over 20,000 African-American women of all ages, dressed in every imaginable shade of pink and green, have taken over the streets near NPR.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Those women decked out in pink and green, often from head to toe, are members of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, and they are in town for their centennial celebrations. The AKAs are the nation's oldest black sorority, and they are known for their commitment for community service. But we wanted to know more, so we dressed producer Sonari Glinton in pink and green and sent him out among the AKAs.

Ms. ANDREA KIDD TAYLOR(ph) (Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority): I'm Andrea Kidd Taylor. I'm from Baltimore, Maryland, and I've been a member of AKA now for 34 years. You know, you have to think of the time frame. It was in 1908, when you had - at Howard University, where you had only a small number of women in an institution. Slavery had ended. Women were - African-American women in particular were just beginning to go to colleges of higher learning, and these group of women decided that they wanted to do more.

(Soundbite of singing)

Unidentified AKA Members: (Singing) Let us march on 'til victory is won.

Ms. BERNICE WILLIAMS(ph) (Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority): Okay, Bernice Williams. I pledged Fort Valley State College, 1950. I pledged because I wanted to do - I wanted to work and do more for the community.

SONARI GLINTON: You didn't want to, just like, go and party?

Ms. WILLIAMS: Party, go where?

GLINTON: Like party and hang...

Ms. WILLIAMS: Oh yeah, we did party. We still party at my age now.

Unidentified AKA Members: (Singing) When we wake up in the morning and jump out of bed, we look in the mirror, and we shake our pretty heads. We are conceited, and that's no lie. We'll be conceited AKAs until the day we die. But we don't die, we just intensify...

GLINTON: So will you show me the secret handshake?

Unidentified AKA Member: Of course not. A lady never tells.

Unidentified AKA Member: Come on ladies, we've got to give him a good skee-wee for NPR. One, two, three.

(Soundbite of screaming)

(Soundbite of laughter)

GLINTON: That's the sound of thousands of people pulling off the road.

(Soundbite of chanting)

NORRIS: Members of AKA, the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, in Washington, D.C., this week for their centennial celebrations. And to all those women in pink and green, congratulations on your first 100 years.

SIEGEL: This is NPR, National Public Radio.

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