Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. presented their 34th Annual Delta Memorial Endowment Fund Literary Luncheon at the Italian Community Center. Nuntiata Portis-Buck is President of the Milwaukee Alumnae Chapter. This year’s co-chairs of the luncheon are Janet M. Lucas and Jenna R. Hatton. This year’s featured author was Jeff Johnson author of “Everything I’m not Made Me Everything I am.”
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization whose purpose is to provide assistance and support through established programs in local communities throughout the world.
Delta Memorial Endowment Fund (DMEF), Inc. is a nonprofit, 501c(3) organization. It was organized in 1980 exclusively for charitable, literary and educational purposes. The organization’s goal is to increase public interest and knowledge of literary works by people of color, and to provide scholarships to qualified and deserving high school seniors who are planning to attend college.
The annual Literary Luncheon is the major fundraising activity of DMEF, Inc. with the main objective of increasing visibility in the literary discipline through a focus on books, arts, theatrical, or film.
Another highlight of the luncheon is the announcement and introduction of the scholarship recipients. Since its inception, DMEF has provided over $100,000 in scholarships, book awards and gifts to community youth.
Faith is the first factor in a life devoted to service. Without it, nothing is possible. With it, nothing is impossible.~Mary McLeod Bethune
This year’s motto can pretty much sum up the motivation behind all the hard work done by the Delta Chapter here in Milwaukee.
I-Witness looks forward to the annual luncheon every year for a variety of reasons one of course to fellowship over lunch with the Deltas, to hear the author and to see the children of the future as they are rewarded for their efforts of becoming and continuing the dreams of all of us present and all Black people past.
I was seated at the table with Jessie Hawkins, Ernestine Magee, Marcella Miller, Nancy Miller, Berlean Henderson, Judy Brown and her son, Joshua Brown who is a 3rd grader at 95th Street School. It was Joshua’s lucky day to head the table as the only man and a table of beautiful women. Holla!
The program began with the welcome by Janet Lucas. We were greeted by Beverly Cooley, president of the DMEF Board of Directors followed by Milwaukee Alumnae Chapter president Nuntiata Buck.Dorothy Malone, the Chaplin graced us in invocation.
After lunch The Write-Off co-chairs were introduced to explain this year’s essay question; “Why is it important to participate in the 2010 census.” Sylvia Hammond was the winner of the 2010 Literary Write Off gift card. She was real clear what the census was about power and money to ones particular community.
Nicole Coleman was co-chair of the Scholarship Committee and she announced the scholarship winners. These children were awesome; several have maintained 4.0 and better throughout the year.
The 2010 recipients were Nyre Alston, Gabriel Genovesi, Christina Hansen, (who carried a 4.5 throughout the school year.) Kayla Johnson, Alexander Mattson and Andrea Walker. Hearing the accomplishments and service that these young people have vested in their community made my head spin.
I-Witness could not figure out how the students maintain 3./ 4.0 grade point averages, participate in school activities and still find time to give back to their community in the form of service. They all received a well-deserved standing ovation.
Jenna Hatton introduced the guest speaker Jeff Johnson who is a Washington, DC based, award-winning journalist, social activist and political commentator. Currently Johnson is managing editor and chief correspondent for “The Truth with Jeff Johnson.”
Johnson, a hard hitting talk show host who can be seen on BET, has earned a reputation as the ‘conscience’ of the network for his positive force among youth and young adults.
He regularly contributes as a guest commentator and analysis for news broadcast such as CNN News, the Huffington Post, MSNBC, Fox News, Ebony/Jet magazines, the Tom Joyner Morning Show and a host of others.
Upon taking to the podium, Johnson thanked all for inviting him. He then announced that he noticed that the one young man had only received a $500 scholarship, while others had received a $1000. So Johnson came out of his pocket and matched the Delta’s $500 to give to the young man.
All I-Witness could think was what a man, what a man, what a mighty good man. Johnson showed he is his brother’s keeper. I loved it!
Johnson was something else, he opened by saying: “I’m not going to talk about my book today. If you want to know about the book simply buy it and read it.
“Today I’m going to talk about a 14 year-old stripper who was caught in a strip club now her mom wants to press charges against the club. Why didn’t she know where her daughter was and what she was doing?”
“We have lost sight of what leaders are and have bought into personalities and are now calling them leaders,” Johnson said.
He went on to talk about the late Congresswoman Tubbs of Ohio who recently passed away and gave him his first job. He said she was “gangta and I loved her because her leadership was not to go along with the flow.”
Johnson went on to talk about the role of leaders in today’s society. “All of us are leaders, But what do you contribute to the universe?” he asked.
“Our communities need your genius. What are we doing on the front end in our communities to make a brighter day?”
As he spoke on the role of leaders and the personal responsibility and accountability that we must all accept, he also talked about the role of sororities and fraternities.
“You all are so sensitive about Greek Letters and you are Black,” he said as laughter ensued. “I value the history and contribution that sororities and fraternities have made. But where are the frats and sororities who stood up like those at Cornell University?” he asked.
Johnson was ‘keeping it real’ with the audience. He frequently posed rhetorical questions, forcing each audience member take personal ownership and accountability to the small changes we can make for the betterment of our community.
“When we find ourselves simply existing in communities, what are we doing? What I care about, where are the small groups who will take the time to make the smallest of change,” he said.
He lauded the individuals who make a difference and do so without notoriety or thanks. “We do have many unsung heros, they don’t do it for the press release. They do it because GOD woke them up and (their service is) the payment,” he said. “I must pay for the breath, in my lungs by serving.”
During his presentation, Johnson dissected the African American community, so to speak. Leaving no stone untouched, Johnson also discussed the importance family, children and respect.
“We have forgotten how important family is,” he said. “We laugh at Latinos for having fourteen people in a house, but no one is homeless. We have folks who don’t even know where some of their folks are (living).
“We have become so independent (that) we have lost our minds. Our children have lost respect for us. We don’t talk to our children and they don’t trust us so they can’t respect us.
“We must get back to being family.”
Johnson shared many stories with us, about wit and getting things done and truly challenged everyone to not only do their part but do even more.
“Everything I am not is everything I am,” he said. ”I know what God put into me. I am a leader who was put here to be great.”
Jeff Johnson was dynamic; as such, he received a standing ovation. There was a lively question and answer session after his presentation, during which a discussion brought out the differences between an old person and an elder.
Additionally, Johnson autographed copies of his latest book “Everything I Am Not Is Everything I Am.”
Hey Deltas I truly enjoyed the luncheon but what I really enjoyed was the display of hard work that your organization puts into to people trying to serve and make a difference in our communities worldwide. It takes special people to love children. Keep loving and advancing that next generation. I love it!