Delta Sigma Theta Sorority
Centennial Celebration and Tourch Tour
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority | 7/3/2013, 7:50 p.m.
Texas was home to four of the sorority’s founders. Mrs. Zephyr Chisom Carter (El Paso), Mrs. Jessie McGuire Dent (Galveston), Mrs. Frederica Chase Dodd (Dallas) and Mrs. Myra Davis Hemmings (Gonzales).Upon graduating from Howard the founders plight for communal uplift didn’t stop. In fact it had just begun.
Frederica Chase graduated from Howard University in 1914 and returned to Dallas. She first became a substitute teacher in the Colored elementary schools of Dallas but soon acquired the position of English teacher and librarian in the Dallas Colored High School, now known as Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. She remained there through the 1920 school year.
Teaching was not the career calling of Miss Chase. The barriers for women in education were still strong. In early years, Dallas law prevented married women from teaching in the public schools. The intent of the law was to allow for a better distribution of money by making more jobs available for men, widows and unmarried women. So, after Miss Chase accepted Dr. John Horace Dodd’s hand in marriage, she withdrew from teaching in Dallas and took a position with the Dallas Family Bureau, also known as the United Charities.
An eternal scholar, she considered education vital to success and in 1920 decided to further her education by attending The Atlanta University School of Social Work, she became a trailblazer, the first African American woman in the area to do graduate study in the field of social work.
Mrs. Dodd worked as a social worker for many years, received numerous recognitions and promotions. During this period in American history, the African American family was still suffering from severe economic problems. These problems were brought on by years of slavery and racial segregation. The basic need for food, clothing and shelter remained a very high priority. Mrs. Dodd continued her diligent efforts for change through her professional career but was also very instrumental in forming the Young Women’s Christian Association in Dallas whose chapter purpose was to serve African American women.
Mrs. Dodd clearly was not one to rest on her laurels. In 1924, she saw another dream materialize,when the Dallas Chapter (Eta Sigma) of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was chartered. Working together with Mrs. Dodd were the following farsighted young women: Jessie Pollard, Ruth Mason, Ruby Pollard Reid and Nettie Wycliff. Several unforeseen tragedies severely affected the group and on Sunday, June 25, 1933 a new charter was requested and the Beta Delta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta was organized. This group became Mrs. Dodd’s pride and joy. The Beta Delta Chapter rode high on the waves of success and affected many positive changes in the educational and cultural areas of the African American community, including the formation of a Dallas YWCA for young Black women and the 1948 initiation of the annual Jabberwock contest which has provided millions in financial scholarships for young ladies to attend the college of their choice.
In 1960, Beta Delta bowed to progress. The size of the sorority, the size of the city and the fact that all members were college graduates demanded that Beta Delta become the Dallas Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Mrs. Dodd remained the anchor at its base and the guiding star at the top. Today 16 North Texas alumnae and collegiate chapters follow in the footsteps laid by those 22 young women and the visionary who brought her calling home to Dallas.