Women's Activism NYC

Osceola Macarthy Adams

By: Rene H | Date Added:

In today’s current society Women find empowerment in many forms, including social, educational, economic, political, and psychological. Each form plays a different role in female empowerment. Women find empowerment also from their family history in the form of female ancestors, who made great strides and advancements in their careers and success in their education. Women have also found empowerment in current family members, teachers, friends, and from their work outside their home, which include their work colleagues, mentors, and supervisors and groups and organizations founded specifically for their gender. One of the many social and educational organizations that women have created to empower themselves are college sororities. One out of the many great sororities that has been created for African American women is the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, founded on January 13, 1913 by 22 collegiate women at Howard University. These students wanted to use their collective strength to promote academic excellence and to provide assistance to those in need. In March of 1913, the Founders of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. performed their first public act. They participated in the Women's Suffrage March in Washington, D.C. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was incorporated in 1930. Delta's Founders stepped out on faith to march with the suffragettes and took a stand for social justice as their first public act. More than 105 years later these women pride themselves by following in the footsteps of their founders and remain in the forefront of action as a voice for those in need. Among the 22 founders of this sorority, the one who was best known was Osceola Macarthy Adams. Osceola Adams was of tri-racial ancestry. She was born in Albany, Georgia, on June 13, 1890 and died on November 20, 1983 at the age of 93. She was the daughter of a life insurance executive, and she benefitted from some of the best educational opportunities available to a Southern black woman of the time. After attending schools in Albany, she enrolled at the private Fisk University Preparatory School in Nashville and then at Howard University in Washington, D.C. She studied ancient Greek and philosophy. Her philosophy professor was Alain Locke, the influential editor of The New Negro. Macarthy and 21 other Howard students founded the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, an organization primarily devoted to community service. By the time of her death in 1983 there were 713 chapters of the sorority around the country. One of Osceola Macarthy Adams most intriguing accomplishments was becoming a Broadway actress. After graduating from Howard University Mrs. Adams married Numa Pompilius Garfield Adams, a chemistry professor and moved to New York City where she was a director of the Putnam County Theater Company in New York City. She also mentored, inspired and taught the dramatic arts to actors such as Sidney Poitier, Ossie Davis, and Ruby Dee. She achieved all of this during an oppressive and turbulent time in black history, especially for black actors and actresses who were harshly discriminated, type casted, played stereotypical roles, and were segregated. The Howard University sorority alumna assumed the stage name Osceola Archer. Mrs. Adams work on Broadway stretched from the 1930s to the 1970s, and she taught or inspired an entire generation of African American dramatic talent. Other noteworthy achievements included teaching dramatic arts at Bennett College, NC in the late 1930s, and she performing as a member of the American Negro Theater company from 1940-49. She was also on the executive committee of Stage Door Canteen during World War II. She was also a pioneer of American Negro Theater (ANT), a New York group that was among the first on-going attempt to present black theatrical talent to the public, and she directed several plays during her association with the group, which lasted from 1944 to 1948. Adams appeared in the film An Affair of the Skin in 1963 and spoke out in later life about how cinematic opportunities had been denied her because of her race. In 1978 Delta Sigma Theta named its award for achievement in the arts the Osceola, after her. She was active in her profession well past the usual retirement age and made television commercials into the late 1970s. What I learned after conducting my research on Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and its sorority member and alumni Osceola Macarthy Adams is that this Howard University sorority organization of African American Women distinguishes itself as a public service organization, and that it confronts the challenges of African Americans as well as the general public. The sorority organization is heavily committed and dedicated to public service and involved with serving the community in general. Once you join the sorority you pledge a lifetime of sacrifice and service to the community. In realizing its mission, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. provides an extensive array of public service initiatives through its Five-Point Programmatic Thrust of: Educational Development, Economic Development, International Awareness and Involvement, Physical and Mental Health, Political Awareness and Involvement. The mission and vision Delta Sigma Theta Sorority aims to achieve is to be an organization of college educated women committed to the constructive development of its members and to public service with a primary focus on the Black community. The organization is a sisterhood of predominantly Black/ African American, college educated women. The sorority currently has 1,000 collegiate and alumnae chapters located in the United States, Canada, Japan, Germany, the Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica and the Republic of Korea. This list of great things, contributions, sacrifices, mentoring and dedication to services are truly inspiring and impressive about Delta Sigma Theta, especially from my prospective. This was all sparked from one of the twenty-two founders members, Mrs. Adams, whose accomplishments, achievements, and accolades should in inspire and empower women and people in general from all walks of life

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