African American Studies
Interviewees: Sheila Jackson, Ann Myers
Interviewers: Mark Naison, Saudah Muhammad, April Fowler
Transcriber: Christian Contreras
Bronx African History Project founder Professor Mark Naison discussed with two members of the historically black sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha- Sheila Jackson and Ann Myers. The sorors (members of a sorority) pledged to the Eta Eta Omega Chapter (or Bronx AKAs) in 1978. During the interview, the sorors covered their biographies, the Eta Omega chapter's community projects, and the evolution of their branch and the AKA sorority as a whole.
Sheila Jackson was born in the Harlem Hospital and has one older sister. For her undergraduate studies, Jackson went to the HBCU Morgan State University. After completing her undergraduate studies, she pursued her graduate education at Fordham University, where she obtained her Professional Diploma in Educational Leadership and Administration. During this time, Jackson pledged to the Eta Omega Omega Chapter. Jackson later became deeply involved in the chapter, mentioning that she served as the chapter’s Baselius president. Finally, she retired as Deputy Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction in District 29 of Queens.
Ann Myers was born in Virginia. She grew up around AKAs, with several family members participating in the organization. As an undergraduate, she attended the HBCU Virginia State University. Myers was part of the first special education classes offered at Virginia State. Though she desired to become a psychiatrist, her background led to a career path in teaching. She found work in the Lutheran schools in Mount Vernon, New York. When Myers relocated to New York, her stepfather’s brother and wife were already in the Bronx. Conveniently, Myers’ aunt and uncle lived across from a soror who was a member of Eta Omega Omega and sponsored Ann to pledge.
Eta Omega Omega Projects
Another crucial topic discussed in the interview was the community efforts of the Eta Omega Omega Chapter. When asked which outreach program they felt attracted the most people, both sorrors agreed that it was the AKATeens Rites of Passage, which is mentorship for high school girls. According to Ms. Myers, the chapter would gain attraction for the sorority by passing out flyers to various high schools in New York City. Ms. Jackson added that the program focuses on helping the girls prepare for college. In addition, the chapter assists the girls by offering resume writing assistance and lessons on financial management. After discussing the rites of passage program, the sorrors also briefly mentioned the various community centers in which the Bronx AKAs are involved, such as the Gwen Bland, Forest House, and McKinnley centers.
The Eta Omega Omega Chapter and AKA Organization Today
Both the Bronx AKA chapter and the larger organization have seen remarkable growth. When Sheila and Ann pledged to the Eta Omega Omega Chapter in 1978, there were 30 members. Nearly 45 years later, the chapter currently has around 140 members. The sorors spoke about the sorority’s expansion. They mentioned how AKAs have shifted from predominantly American branches to create branches in the Caribbean, Africa, and Germany. The interview concluded with a discussion on AKAs in positions of power, such as Kamala Harris.
Naison, Mark, "Jackson, Sheila and Ann Myers" (2020). Oral Histories. 341.