The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. exemplified a principle as old as the Scriptures during its International Leadership conference in Atlanta: Before you can lead, you first must learn to serve. This was manifested via the AKA’s youth summit and school-supply giveaway for 700 plus middle school students at their “Emerging Young Leaders” program at the Adamsville Recreation Center on Friday, July 15, 2011.
Through the AKA’s partnership with the city of Atlanta’s Summer Camp Best Friends program, the oldest black sorority organization facilitated a rejuvenating forum where sorority leaders conducted candid dialogue with middle school girls as well as boys. These efforts were augmented by the likes of WNBA star Kiesha Brown, radio and TV personality Rashan Ali, Atlanta city council member C.T. Martin, teenage turntable specialist DJ Priest, the anti-bullying crusaders One Thurd and students from the Ron Clark Academy.
“With the world so complex, this summit will provide a pathway where youth can process the challenges and the tools to manage them in a way that will bring out the leader in them. Such a forum parallels Alpha Kappa Alpha’s theme of fostering ‘Global Leadership Through Timeless Service,’ ” said Alpha Kappa Alpha’s International president, attorney Carolyn House Stewart.
Rashan Ali, who joined the AKA’s at Florida A&M in 1995, said it is paramount to corral young women’s minds from the streets during that awkward pubescent period of their lives where they are trying to figure out who they are.
“Of course, those are very important years, and that’s when we can either gain or lose our child during the 6th, 7th and 8th grades,” said Ali, who was one of the masters of ceremony for the rally. “I love the youth. I have my own youth foundation. I think that God has given me the platform and purpose to make a difference in their lives. It’s only appropriate for me to be a part of this.”
The Emerging Young Leaders program is one that impacts the lives of 10,000 girls in grades 6 through 8. It is an extension of AKA’s conviction that the increasing demands of the 21st century mandate that our youth be better leaders at a younger age and possess the tools to make smart choices with positive outcomes, the organization’s statement reads. The AKAs have made this a core part of their mandate for more than 100 years now.
And that’s why Beauty P. Baldwin, a Gwinnett County, Ga., resident who joined the AKAs at Savannah State University, can say with pride: “The one thing that we’re noted for is our service.”