Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. was founded on November 12, 1922 by seven young women educators in Indianapolis, Indiana. On December 30, 1929, a charter was granted to the Alpha chapter at Butler University making the organization a national college sorority. It is the only one of the National Pan-Hellenic Conference sororities not founded at Howard University, site of the Alpha chapters of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, and Zeta Phi Beta.
Sigma Gamma Rho’s founders are Nannie Mae Gahn Johnson, Mary Lou Allison Little, Vivian White Marbury, Bessie M. Downey Martin, Cubena McClure, Hattie Mae Dulin Redford, and Dorothy Hanley Whiteside.
When the Los Angeles chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho was founded in July 1939, actress Hattie McDaniel was one of its founding members. Her role as “Mammy” in Gone With the Wind earned her an Academy Award. She was the first African American woman to win the award. She was also the first African American woman to sing on American radio. She has been honored with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for her contributions to radio and the other for her contributions to motion pictures. In 2006, she became the first African American Academy Award winner to be honored with a U.S. postage stamp.
Breast cancer claimed McDaniel’s life in 1952 at the age of 57. Sigma Gamma Rho created the Hattie McDaniel Cancer Awareness and Health Program in her honor and memory. The mission of the program is to provide education and support of early detection of breast, prostate, ovarian, colon and other cancers as well as research for prevention of the cancers.
(c) Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2013. All Rights Reserved.