The nation's oldest black sorority will meet in Baltimore beginning today to address a variety of issues, including efforts to increase the number of blacks in mathematics and science.
About 8,000 women are expected to attend the 57th annual Alpha Kappa Alpha convention at the Baltimore Arena, Columbus Center, Stouffer Hotel and Convention Center.
Local and national leaders will address the organization, including Kweisi Mfume, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; the Rev. Bernice A. King, daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.; Energy Secretary Hazel R. O'Leary; and members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
A math and science competition at noon today in the Columbus Center will open the weeklong event.
The competition, the Partnership in Mathematics and Science Olympiad, brings together middle and high school students from across the nation to exhibit their projects and papers and to compete in a quiz focused on math and science.
"We want to make sure young African-American children do have the opportunities to excel in math and science and make sure they realize they have a role and responsibility to take advantage of careers in technology," said Darcel Guy, co-chairwoman of the AKA media relations committee.
Students earned a chance to compete at this year's convention by winning qualifying rounds at AKA regional meetings this spring as part of a national campaign to increase the number of blacks in technology.
Other key events of the convention will be open to the public, including a meeting led by Mfume tomorrow evening at the Baltimore Arena.
The keynote speaker will discuss issues raised at the recent NAACP convention, focusing on how the organization and African-Americans can address issues that affect the black community.
A town meeting on the coming presidential election, also open to the public, will be held Monday afternoon at the Baltimore Arena. It will be led by Rep. Donald M. Payne, a New Jersey Democrat and chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Payne will be accompanied by other members of the caucus and by Rep. J. C. Watts, an Oklahoma Republican. He will discuss key issues in the presidential campaign and how they affect blacks.
A voter-registration drive sponsored by a partnership between sorority members and a coalition of black women's groups will be held throughout the convention.
Tuesday, tests to determine bone-marrow compatibility will be conducted by the American Red Cross, which is working to increasing the 6 percent enrollment of blacks on the national marrow donor registry.
The education and mobilization of blacks were the goals of Howard University alumna Ethel "Lyle" Hedgeman, who founded the sorority in 1908.
Monday, a life-size wax figure of Hedgeman will be unveiled. It will be exhibited at the Great Blacks in Wax Museum in East Baltimore.
Pub Date: 7/13/96