OC NCNW and Women’s Voting Rights
By Dianne Anderson
About two months before the great Women’s Suffrage March of 1913, a group of strong Black women of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. refused to be told that they couldn’t participate in the major voting rights issue of the time.
Uninvited, the Deltas boldly stepped up, taking their place at the back of the procession to leave an indelible historical mark.
“It raised eyebrows, and other sororities established shortly after, the AKA’s and others became more active and aware of what was going on,” said Powell, president NCNW, Inc., Orange County Section, and alumnae Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Orange County.
Other early African American trailblazers, like great abolitionist editor, Ida B Wells, also refused to march in the back of the parade. Powell said the African American presence through that era helped all women gain a foothold in pushing forward critical voting equity from the turn of the last century.
On Wednesday, February 19, the community is invited to a free presentation at the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center, Carnegie Building to learn how the African American women’s vote shaped history. The event is held from 12:30 to 1:30, located at 241 S Anaheim Blvd in Anaheim.
Panels feature Dr. DeVera Heard with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc Orange County, National Council of Negro Women, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women and Susan G Komen. Also featured, Dr. Denise Reid, a member of Friendship Baptist Church and a professor at Biola University. Beatrice Jones, NCNW-OC Section Historian and Vexillologist will present on the Universal African Flag and Flags of the African Diaspora.
“This is the 100th anniversary of the African American flag, our historian is going to give a history on it. We’re going to play the video of our National Anthem, the one with President Barack Obama in it,” Powell said.
The NCNW sisterhood is also getting energized around the vote.
Last month, the Delta’s held its Big Change event, led by Dr. DeVera Heard and sponsored by the Deltas, NCNW and the 100 Black Women. The community learned about new voting centers, and how the voting process is set to change in Orange County and Los Angeles County.
For the most part, voting is by mail. If needed, voters can go to a center and vote on the machine, drop it off at the center or mail in the ballot. Mailboxes will be placed in communities for easy access leading up to the vote.
“There’s no excuse that you have to wait for voting day, you are going to have several weeks [to vote],” Powell said.
Powell is moderating the panel discussion through the prism of the women’s suffrage movement. Perhaps her favorite part of the discussion is reflecting on how the then newly formed Deltas proved that they would not back down from making history.
That level of perseverance typified the political energy and social activism of that time. She believes that kind of determination is needed once again.
Powell is also a California Democratic Party Delegate Assembly District 73 appointed by Scott Rhinehart. Having heard about a short, yet impressive speech she gave regarding democracy, he had asked if she was interested in serving as a delegate. She accepted.
For a while, she said Orange County was stalled on purple, but recently turned blue.
“Now we say that we’re the blue wave and hopefully the wave will continue,” she said. “With the primaries in March and the big general in November, the Democrats are out in force.”