African American Studies
Interviewee: Irma Clement
Interviewers: Mark Naison,Lionel Spencer and Donna Joseph, and Saudah Muhammad
Transcribed by Amy Rini, 10-17-22, revised 3.23
Ms. Irma Clement is the oldest member of Eta Omega Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., ®and has been a member of the Sorority for over seventy-five years. She was born 1920 in Joliet, Illinois and grew up in Alcoa Tennessee.
Ms. Clement attended segregated schools and noted that the “all black” teachers inspired her and sparked a fire of determination to continue her education beyond the poverty and limitations of the circumstances. She graduated from high school in 1939 as salutatorian and entered Knoxville College. Ms. Clement was initiated into Alpha Phi Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., ® at Knoxville College June 11, 1945. She also graduated Cum Laude in 1945.
Ms. Clement met Eleanor Roosevelt and Mary Mcleod Bethune when she was a college student in Tennessee, was at Tuskegee during WW2 when the Tuskegee Airmen were training and had a long and distinguished career as a librarian in Detroit schools before moving to the Bronx after she retired.
She was honored in 2020 as a Diamond member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., ® for over seventy-five years of service and was celebrated by more than one hundred members of her chapter for her 100th birthday. Sorority members gathered Sunday, June 14th to celebrate her birthday serenading “Happy Birthday” outside her Riverdale Apartment.
Ms. Clement’s always has a positive outlook on life journey and noted that “Life is a game that we play to the maximum, with whatever hands we are dealt”.
African American History Project, Bronx, "Clement, Irma" (2020). Oral Histories. 343.