July 12, 2022

Historically Black sorority founded on Butler University’s campus celebrates its 100th anniversary

An international sorority celebrates its 100th anniversary in Indianapolis this week. - Butler University

An international sorority celebrates its 100th anniversary in Indianapolis this week.

Butler University

An international sorority celebrates its 100th anniversary in Indianapolis this week.

Butler University President James Danko said Sigma Gamma Rho started on the campus in 1922.

“By seven courageous ladies who in the face of difficult times back then, frankly, founded one of the only Black sororities [at a predominantly white institution] in the country right here at Butler,” Danko said.

All three Black sororities in existence when Sigma Gamma Rho began – Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, and Zeta Phi Beta – were founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
 
Several events took place on campus Tuesday including the unveiling of a monument honoring the founding members of Sigma Gamma Rho – Mary Lou Allison Gardner Little, Dorothy Hanley Whiteside, Vivian Irene White Marbury, Nannie Mae Gahn Johnson, Hattie Mae Annette Dulin Redford, Bessie Mae Downey Rhoades Martin, and Cubena McClure.

“Jetting out of the ground in kind of a circular fashion, are seven black marble pillars each one to the seven founding sisters with their names and images on them,” Danko said.

The monument comes months after the founding members were awarded honorary doctorates by the university.

Sigma Gamma Rho has been planning for the Centennial Celebration for years.  Current sorority membership and affiliates will also hold events across the city this week including workshops, a swimming clinic, and a day of service.  A full schedule of events can be found at sgrho100.org.

Sigma Gamma Rho has more than 500 chapters worldwide and is one of nine historically Black Greek letter organizations that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

Contact WFYI Morning Edition newscaster and reporter Taylor Bennett at tbennett@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @TaylorB2213.

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