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Phylicia Rashād on the legacy of the AKAs highlighted in 'Twenty Pearls'

April 5, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 71.6%. 2 min read.

Phylicia Rashād pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority at Howard University in Washington, DC in 1968, yet it took narrating a new documentary about the organization before she learned some of its earliest history.

(CNN)Phylicia Rashād pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority at Howard University in Washington, DC in 1968, yet it took narrating a new documentary about the organization before she learned some of its earliest history.

"When you pledge a fraternity or a sorority, you learn the names of the founders and the year in which it was founded," she told CNN.

"But the detailed history that's in this documentary, we did not learn that as pledgees. "

"Twenty Pearls" tells the story of the first Black sorority, which was founded in 1908 by nine women enrolled at Howard University.

Vice President Harris is among the women interviewed for the film by director Deborah Riley Draper.

"It's an honor to elevate the stories of Black women who have influenced American society using the tools I know and love," Draper, who is also a member of the sorority, recently told writer Nsenga K.

The sisterhood among the women has been pivotal in the lives of many of its members, Rashād said.

Rashād said that one of the things she loves about the documentary is that is focuses on the sorority being at the forefront of so much in history, including a healthcare initiative they started in Mississippi during the Great Depression that went on to help vaccinate Black people who were suffering under Jim Crow laws.

"With this documentary to learn about the activism among women back in 1923, I'm talking about political activism," she said.

"In the Women's Suffrage Movement -- not being asked to participate -- however, that did not deter the women [of AKA] from action. "

"The women were never idle," Rashād said of those original members and those who came after them in the early years.

Rashād said her sorority was founded with "the intent to uplift" and that mission persists.

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