Dr. Elizabeth Alexander Inducted into Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

16 Aug 2011 3:05 PM | Anonymous

Dr. Elizabeth Alexander Inducted into Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority
Alexander Hailed as an Internationally-Acclaimed Poet, Essayist and Playwright


Chicago, Illinois - August 16, 2011 - Dr. Elizabeth Alexander, an award winning poet, essayist, playwright and a Pulitzer Prize finalist was recently inducted into Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority as an Honorary Member.  Alexander, who serves as chairman of the African American Studies Department at Yale University, was initiated in a members-only ceremony held in New Haven, Connecticut.

Presiding over the formal induction was Alpha Kappa Alpha's International President Attorney Carolyn House Stewart.  Participating were the Honorable Peggy A. Quince, the International Chairman of the Honorary Members/Awards Committee, and Executive Director Deborah Dangerfield. Also joining in the induction were former International President, Barbara A. McKinzie, former International Chairman of the Honorary Members/Awards Committee, Mae R. Carr, and Elicia Spearman, president of Theta Epsilon Omega of New Haven, Connecticut, which nominated Alexander.

An honorary membership is the highest honor the Sorority presents and those who are inducted represent the highest standards of character, courage and womanhood.  Through her creativity, and as expressed in her poems, plays and essays, she embodies the Alpha Kappa Alpha ideal, which is captured in its credo: “Providing service to all mankind.”  This is Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority's core mission, the foundation upon which the Sorority was founded in 1908.

Professor Alexander has earned worldwide acclaim for her contributions, which make her an ideal candidate for membership.

Creative triumphs, awards and recognitions have punctuated her journey to greatness.  Most recently, she composed and delivered “Praise Song for the Day” for the inauguration of President Barack Obama. The poem was recently published as a small book from Graywolf Press. In addition, she has published five books of poems: The Venus Hottentot (1990), Body of Life (1996), Antebellum Dream Book (2001), American Sublime (2005), which was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize and was one of the American Library Association's “Notable Books of the Year;” and her first young adult collection (co-authored with Marilyn Nelson), Miss Crandall's School for Young Ladies and Little Misses of Color (2008 Connecticut Book Award). Her two collections of essays are The Black Interior (2004) and Power and Possibility (2007), and her play, “Diva Studies,” was produced at the Yale School of Drama.

Professor Alexander is the first recipient of the Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellowship for work that “contributes to improving race relations in American society and furthers the broad social goals of the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954.” She is the 2007 winner of the first Jackson Prize for Poetry, awarded by Poets & Writers, Inc. Other awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, two Pushcart Prizes, the George Kent Award, given by Gwendolyn Brooks, a Guggenheim fellowship as well as the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at University of Chicago.

Alexander has degrees from Yale University and Boston University and completed her Ph.D. in English at the University of Pennsylvania.

“We are honored and proud to have Dr. Alexander join our great sisterhood,” said Stewart.  “Her devotion to education and her commitment to delivering human rights messages through her poems, essays and plays embody the qualities of the Alpha Kappa Alpha woman.  She will make a great addition to our Sorority and we look forward to supporting and embracing her.”

After the formal induction, Alexander expressed pride in joining the Sorority. She said she was particularly uplifted because poet Sonia Sanchez - whose work and character she admires -- is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha.

Photo Caption:  Dr. Elizabeth Alexander (wearing glasses) beams with pride after being inducted into Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority as an honorary member.  Joining in the congratulations are (from left): Camille Cooper, vice president of Theta Epsilon Omega of New Haven; Alpha Kappa Alpha's international president Carolyn House Stewart and Elicia Spearman, chapter president - Theta Epsilon Omega.

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