Gamma Alpha Omega History
Gamma Alpha Omega Chapter was chartered March 4, 1939, thereby bringing Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority to Jackson, Tennessee. The chartering was unique in that at the same time of its chartering the undergraduate chapter, Beta Chi at Lane College was also chartered. These charterings were due to the interest of four Alpha Kappa Alpha Women: Evelyn Caruthers, Annie Mai Miller, Carrie Pembroke, all from the state of Kansas and Nelda Williams from Humboldt, Tennessee. These four members were joined by five other women: Alice Brown, Georgia Hightower, Georgia Valarie Johnson, Anna L. Rogers and Corrye Nichols Stephens, who became the charter members of Gamma Alpha Omega. Portia Trenholm, Regional Director and Maude Brown, Supreme Basileus, conducted the charterings the same night (March 4, 1939) with nine charter members each for Gamma Alpha Omega and Beta Chi.
The first officers for Gamma Alpha Omega were: Carrie Pembroke, President; Annie Mai Miller, Vice Resident; Georgia Hightower, Secretary; Nelda Williams, Correspondence Secretary; Corrye Stephens, Treasurer; and Evelyn Caruthers, Graduate Advisor to Beta Chi.
Gamma Alpha Omega grew rapidly because the community was eagerly awaiting activities which fostered constructive and personal relationships. The chapter sought to culturally enrich the Jackson community. In the earlier years noted artists such as Etta Moten and the Fisk Jubilee Singers were brought to the city.
Fashionetta was introduced in 1951 using guest models from Nashville, Memphis, St. Louis, Chicago and local models including sorors, their husbands and children. The activity provided opportunities for demonstrating talents in fashion, as well as clean and wholesome completion. To highlight Fashionetta, city-wide voting was done for the “Best Dressed Women of Jackson” which entailed placing ballot boxes at key businesses. To encourage fund raising, “Living Ads” from Jackson businesses were used. A “Living Ad” was a male or female representative sponsored by a company.
In 1964, the chapter presented the first Cinderella Cotillion. This project was designed to culturally enrich the lives of girls aged 12-15. Efforts were made to help girls develop and appreciate aesthetic values. In November 1977, the cotillion participants were carried to New Orleans to view the Egyptian exhibit of King Tut treasures. The girls had no financial obligations for the trip. Revenue derived from the Cotillion was used to provide scholarships to deserving high school seniors.
During the 1970’s, Gamma Alpha Omega engaged in many activities. On December 26, 1973 a life membership with the NAACP was purchased. The sorority also sponsored an International Ball. Invitations were sent to organizations in the city and persons were asked to dress representing different countries. The chapter also assisted Beta Chi with their annual Mardi Gras Ball. Gamma Alpha Omega awarded a trophy to the person wearing the best costume.
On December 2, 1978, the first Miss Vogue/Mr. Esquire Pageant was sponsored by the chapter. The pageant served as a culmination of a series of activities designed to broaden the cultural and social awareness of each participant. The first pageant had a total of 37 participants, 18 young ladies and 19 young men. Proceeds from the pageant help provide scholarships for college-bound students.
In February 1995, the “Most Precious Pearl” Award was begun by the chapter. This award is given to the sorority member for her outstanding service to the community and the sorority. This award is the highest award bestowed upon a member within Gamma Alpha Omega Chapter.
On June 19, 1995, the first Hall of Fame Program was held at Best Western Old Hickory Inn. Recognition was given to honor deserving individuals for their contributions in four areas-community service, education, fine arts and political action. Inductees were given awards to honor them for service in their respective areas.
Through its history, Gamma Alpha Omega has generously given of its resources to the community from providing milk to elementary school children to towels, wash cloths and other personal hygiene items at a local convalescent home. The chapter continues to address our national targets and gives service to all mankind.