Delta Sigma Theta members meeting with Capitol Hill leaders about voting, health care

The sorority's 33rd Annual Delta Days will also focus on student loan debt and Black maternal health.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senior Advisor to President Joe Biden, Cedric Richmond, are among D.C. lawmakers and administration officials receiving meetings today with members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

The discussions, that began on March 5 and continue through the end of the week, are part of the organization’s 33rd annual Delta Days during which sorority officials and members meet with lawmakers to press issues specifically relevant to the Black community. The comprehensive agenda includes health-care issues, financial inequities and ballot box access.

Given recent redistricting plans and legislation, voting is a prominent topic.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., shown in a July 2021 photo, will meet with members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated during Delta Days, an initiative that presses issues specifically relevant to the Black community. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“With the issues that are facing us now, the continued issues of voting rights, the fact that voting rights are being eroded as opposed to…being enhanced and making it easier to vote,” voter access is on the sorority’s agenda, Elise Cook-Holmes, the sorority’s national president, told theGrio exclusively.

The organization’s initiative, called Advocacy in Action, focuses on additional concerns that affect Black Americans disproportionately “such as educational disparities, student loan debt being, you know, at an all time high and it impacting us as African-American females more than it impacts other women,” Cook-Holmes added. 

Social action and service are two of the founding principles of Delta Sigma Theta which boasts 1,000 chapters across the globe and more than 300,000 initiated members. Almost 5,000 of those members will also meet with the Congressional Black Caucus, Richmond and members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. who work inside the Biden administration.

The conversations in Washington are expected to affect state and local communities, according to Delta Days Co-Chair of Social Action, Stefanie Brown James. “We feel empowered to know that through our Delta network of sorors all across the country, who have their feet in the community, who work day in and day out on the issues that we know impact the black community.”

Brown James said, “We are focused on making sure that we are closing the racial wealth gap that we are addressing health disparities, especially those that involve maternal and infant mortality rates.”

The list of what is important is vast, Brown James continued. “ We’re going to be keenly focused on educational inequities, especially student loan debt, which we know impacts young black people more than any other demographic, as well as making sure that our country has its first black Supreme Court justice in Ketanji Brown Jackson,” she said.

The women of  Delta Sigma Theta Sorority are veterans at supporting other women, particularly Deltas who have to go before the Senate for confirmation hearings. They stood in the hallways of Capitol Hill during the confirmations of Labor Secretary nominee Alexis Herman and for Loretta Lynch, who was the Attorney General nominee. 

Although Brown Jackson is not a member of the sorority, they plan to stand strong for her as well in her bid for the United States Supreme Court. If she is confirmed, she will begin her work on the high court in October 2022.

This year’s efforts began in March instead of their traditional dates in February. COVID and the untimely death of the most recent past president Cheryl Hickmon necessitated the changes.

Editor’s note: April Ryan, the Washington D.C Bureau Chief for TheGrio, is an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, and Android TV. Please download theGrio mobile apps today!