I found this article and included it in another post, but as I sit here on my lunch break I think that it fits nicely into today's theme of good things happening in the community.
African-American woman power, on land and at sea
By Betty Bayé
Today, thousands of African-American women are members of, and even lead, their professional associations. It can rightfully be said that they've come a long way, baby!
But many, perhaps most, haven't cut ties with the sororities and the clubs, some founded more than 100 years ago, with the specific purpose of nurturing black women's educational, business and professional aspirations.
These organizations saw black women through the toughest times; the times when a man who called them names was more likely to be promoted than to be condemned.
Black women, then as now, need to be organized against the onslaught. They still need the safe havens that were created back in the days when black women were banned from membership in the other women's groups in their cities and towns.
Mention such names as Links, Chums, Girlfriends, Moles, NCNW, AKAs, Deltas, Zetas or Sigma Gamma Rho, and most African Americans will know exactly who and what you're referring to.
These aren't secret organizations; they have hundreds of thousands of members who annually raise and distribute millions for scholarships and projects nationally and within their local communities.
When I hear people claiming that African Americans do little or nothing to help themselves, I realize that such ignorance is possible because organizations founded by black women, and black men, still largely go unmentioned in the mainstream media.
Yet, they persist, both out of need and tradition.
I'm just back, for example, from the Chums convention, which this year was held aboard Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas.
While others were lolling in the sun and enjoying platters of food served up in the ship's informal Windjammer restaurant, Chums' leaders were three decks below taking care of business, including honoring those among Chums' 40 chapters who were most effective fulfilling Chums' long time objective to "Listen to the Children."
In recent years, Chums locally have focused on projects intended to help raise the academic performance of African American children on national tests, but especially in math and science.
Chums was founded reportedly on a "cold, rainy night" in Norfolk, Va., in 1946 by three college girlfriends -- Mary Barnes, Theodora Jackson Cora and Joyce Tate Brown -- while they were sitting in a red Thunderbird convertible.
Brown came to town when the Louisville chapter, founded by the current national Chums president Marie Lewis, was installed in 1989. Over the years, Chum Joyce regaled us at national conventions with tales of the club's early days. She would giggle like a girl, remembering the fabulous hats they loved to wear, the hundreds of dolls they collected for needy kids and the naughty things they sometimes did, which, quite frankly, hardly seem shocking today.
Now I know women who would say they'd never belong to an all -- female organization. And to be honest, I've had my moments with Chums. But even when we sometimes stray from our organization's noble creeds (some of us can indeed be petty and jealous), I'm nevertheless in awe of organized women's potential to change the world.
And speaking of sisterhood, my blood sister, Debbie, cruised as my guest. She's not a Chum, but she's my chum. My little sister is so supportive of everything that I do and she loves me unconditionally, the way our parents instructed us, no matter what.
When we weren't being rocked to sleep by the waves -- we didn't know we were so tired -- Debbie and I laughed and talked about the good old days.
The only thing better would have been if our other sister, the youngest, Georgeann, could have come along.
Maybe next year.
Betty Winston Bayé is a Courier - Journal columnist and editorial writer. Her column appears on Thursdays. Read it online at www.courier -- journal.com/opinion.