When early voting began in Atlanta earlier this month, an image of Black women marching in unison swept across social media. The women “strolling to the polls” are members of four historically Black sororities, and this year, for the first time, they have the opportunity to vote for one of their own for vice president: Sen. Kamala Harris, who gave a shoutout to her fellow Alpha Kappa Alphas in her nomination acceptance speech.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Kimberley Egonmwan, who is also the social action chairwoman for the National Pan-Hellenic Council Chicago chapter, says these historic organizations are not just social organizations — they’re deeply rooted in service, including continuing efforts to get out the vote.
“We’ve started with voter registration. We have been registering voters all over the Chicagoland area – we are the largest chapter [of the National Pan-Hellenic Council] in the United States so we’ve been registering voters since July or August. Then you want to educate. We don’t take a stand on any candidates – instead what we do is try to get the information and education to people so they can take a look at the issues that are impacting our community and decide,” she said. “Then we make sure that people have a safe way to get to the polls so they know exactly how they’re going to vote. And then finally, participation. That is the number one key. So we’re even into election protection, where we have attorneys making sure that happens.”
Though Egonmwan is quick to point out that the organization is strictly nonpartisan, the symbolism of having an AKA on the ballot does not escape her. “It’s wonderful at this (moment) to see someone who’s from an HBCU and also is among the ranks of our Divine Nine organizations to finally get that opportunity, to finally break through that glass ceiling. To finally see someone get an opportunity to be there is a really strong, prideful moment,” Egonmwan said.