Delta Sigma Theta Sorority presses Capitol Hill lawmakers on Black community issues About 1,200 members of the historic Black sorority Delta Sigma Theta went to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to press for their priorities — from voting rights to criminal justice.

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority presses Capitol Hill lawmakers on Black community issues

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A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

For the 35th year in a row, women from the historic Black sorority Delta Sigma Theta brought their legislative priorities to Capitol Hill this week. As NPR's Alana Wise reports, this year's effort featured a record number of members from nearly all 50 states pressing for issues such as voting rights, education and criminal justice.

ALANA WISE, BYLINE: More than 1,200 women gathered on the steps of Capitol Hill on Tuesday, dressed in their signature crimson attire as a show of force for their legislative priorities for the year. On the agenda - meeting with senators and members of the House across the aisle on topics including increasing voting and civic engagement and reproductive justice.

ELSIE COOKE-HOLMES: Our members understand the importance of social action.

WISE: That was Elsie Cooke-Holmes, national president of the sorority.

COOKE-HOLMES: We look to empower communities. We look to elevate the impact of the work that we do so that our communities can be better.

WISE: Sorority members planned to meet with representatives and senators from their respective states to address issues of importance to women in the Black community. For Joycelyn Durk, a 38-year member of the sorority, the travel from Cerritos, Calif., to Washington is an important part of what it means to be in a service organization.

JOYCELYN DURK: We will not stop the fight until everyone who has the ability and should be able to vote can vote, until we are able to eliminate poverty, until we are able to fix the criminal justice system, until we are able to deal with homelessness, we will be here on these steps every year.

WISE: It's this fight, Houston-based Sharon Jones says, that makes being a Delta worth it.

SHARON JONES: When you see the Deltas coming, you should know that we are here to make this world better than we found it.

WISE: Delta Sigma Theta has 350,000 members who work to improve their communities across the country.

Alana Wise, NPR News, Washington.

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