The House passed a Democratic legislator’s resolution to award special recognition for her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA). The resolution sponsor, State Representative Barbara Cooper (D-Memphis), framed the official acknowledgement as a recognition honoring law enforcement prior to the House floor vote. However, the enacting clause doesn’t mention law enforcement at all. Instead, the enacting clause only recognizes a “virtual celebration” for AKA members. The resolution will now head to the Senate.
“[W]e recognize Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Day at the Capitol, May 6, 2021, a virtual celebration for the AKA members from the South Eastern Region of Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee,” it states.
Nowhere in Cooper’s explanation of the bill before the House did she mention that the resolution would honor her sorority. Instead, she mentioned in the tail end of her statement that AKA brought the resolution to her.
“[It] simply recognizes, acknowledges, and respects the work and dedication of our public safety officer members who put their lives and risk every day to serve and protect the public without regard to race, color, and creed,” claimed Cooper.
The resolution received near-unanimous support in the House; only three legislators abstained their votes – State Representatives Debra Moody (R-Covington), Tim Rudd (R-Murfreesboro), and Chris Todd (R-Madison County).
George Floyd’s death and the January 6th breach of the U.S. Capitol building were originally a part of the resolution, too. In that version, the preamble stated that part of the reason for the resolution had to do with how those events “exposed riffs [sic] in the relationships between police and the communities they protect and serve.” The adopted amendment to the resolution deleted that statement.
Although the resolution doesn’t mention social justice, the AKA event flyer does. The virtual sorority event is scheduled for May 6 at the Tennessee Capitol. It is focused on legislative activism and engagement.
“Excellence in Engagement: Connecting AKAs to: […] Decide on the legislation, public policy and social justice issues that are most critical to our communities,” reads the AKA flyer.
Like most other sororities and fraternities, AKA has a long history with issues such as hazing. One prominent incident in 2002 concerned the alleged drowning of two women – though AKA national headquarters denied that the women involved were a part of an official AKA chapter.
Earlier this month, an AKA chapter at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, received a cease and desist order after administrators received a report that members had been hazed “for years.” This past week, it was reported that members of an AKA chapter were being investigated for undisclosed, hazing-related reasons at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Alpha Kappa Alpha was founded in 1908 on the campus of Howard University. It bills itself as the nation’s “oldest Greek-letter organization established by African-American college-educated women.” AKA says it has nearly 300,000 members in more than 1,000 graduate and undergraduate chapters across the United States and the world. Notable members of the sorority include actress Phylicia Rashad; rapper Wande; and Vice President Kamala Harris.
The Tennessee Star reached out to State Rep. Cooper for comment on the resolution. She didn’t respond by press time.
– – –