ABOVE PHOTO: Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, left, shares a laugh with her Delta soror Nikki Giovanni at the Moore College of Art & Design on Saturday, November 3, 2018 during the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter hosted “Pride in Our Heritage Tour.” (–SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Nikki Giovanni and a host of outstanding Deltas in the arts featured in a national tour
By Patricia Gilliam Clifford
The Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. hosted the fifth stop in the “Pride in Our Heritage Tour” at The Moore College of Art & Design last Saturday.
The tour was envisioned by Beverly Evans Smith, national president and CEO of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., who was inspired to present a program in which each of the sororities’ seven regions celebrated African-American heritage in the creative and performing arts and explored the lives and work of luminary Delta artists.
Smith introduced the tour, which is a signature program of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and National Arts and Letters Commission. The commission is co-chaired by Johnnetta B. Cole and Gwendolyn A. Mason.
The dynamic president of the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter, Monica Johnson Taylor, with co-chair Sheila Phillips Hawes, Esq. and program chairs Emilee J. Taylor and Lynada Martinez Colburn provided local coordination.
Cole — who was the first female African-American president of Spelman College, an American anthropologist, director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art Museum and from 2002 to 2007 president of Bennett College for Women, where she chaired the Johnnetta B. Cole Global Diversity & Inclusion Institute — has been leading the tour on an amazing journey across the country. She pulls audiences into intriguing discussions with Deltas who have overcome adversity to achieve national recognition.
Her event in Philadelphia featured one of America’s foremost poets, writers and commentators, Nikki Giovanni. Giovanni has published numerous collections of poetry, from her first self-published volume entitled “Black Feeling Black Talk” (1968) to “New York Times” best-seller, ”Bicycles: Love Poems” (2009). Her poems helped to define the African-American experience of the 1960s through the 1970s and beyond. This civil rights activist, poet, and television personality was also a major force in the Black Arts Movement.
This exciting evening of music, dance, poetry and art in Philadelphia began with a wonderful reception where guests enjoyed delicious food, fellowship, and conversation while listening to the smooth sounds of The Stephen Mitnaul Trio. The audience was delighted with an exhilarating African cultural experience performed by drummers, dancers, stilt walkers and singers who comprise the Sisters Laying Down Hands Collective. Maureen Hennighan Booker, a member of the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter, presented a special dance performance.
Emmy award-winning Poet Laureate Hank Stewart, who has performed at the Trumpet Awards and Essence Music Festival, recited his inspirational poem, “Mad”, which lifted the heart and captured the crisis of the times we live in.
There was also a visual arts exhibit featuring the works of talented local artists. Other artists in the exhibit included: Nannette Clark, C. Gloria Akers, Nancy Churchville, Leslye Clemons-Carr, Jimmy Mance, Tiffany Murphy, Jose Sebourne, Jacqui Gilmore Stallworth, Quincy Stallworth, and Emilee J. Taylor. Esteemed artist Tim Caison captured the momentous occasion by painting live at the event. His one-of-a-kind masterpiece was auctioned live onsite.
Proud attendees included Eastern Regional Director Rosia Blackwell Lawrence; past Regional Director–Farwest Region, Sandra Phillips Johnson; past Eastern Regional Directors, Dr. Constance E. Clayton and Theljewa Garrett and past and present members of the Delta National Committee, Kimberly Lloyd, Cynthia Muse, Tianna Phillips, and Victoria Mosley Rivers.
More familiar faces “Around Town in Philly” at the event were: former Philadelphia City Councilwoman and Delta Marian B. Tasco, Delta Community College of Philadelphia trustee Dorothy Sumners Rush; Philadelphia Kappa Polemarch L. Douglas Harrell and Richard Lee Snow, past executive director, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
Also present were Canara Price and Joe Ann Oatis, members of the Delta National Arts and Letters Commission, and Kim Jordan, Delta Sigma Theta’s Pennsylvania state coordinator.
The tour began in September in Kansas City, Missouri, and will culminate on December 1 in New Orleans. It is traveling to one city in each of the Delta’s seven regions, where Cole engages a celebrity Delta in an in-depth and intriguing conversation regarding her life, successes, afflictions, triumphs, and pivotal life-altering moments.
“We write because we believe the human spirit cannot be tamed and should not be trained.” –Nikki Giovanni