An Open Letter
Beloved Sisters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated,
People expect a loved one’s passing to heighten emotions and cause tears to overflow. Understandably the immense sadness surrounding the loss of our esteemed 27th President, Soror Cheryl Hickmon, released a torrent of tears as numerous prayers were prayed for her family. During Black News Channel’s (BNC) interview, Past President Soror Beverly Smith expressed gratitude to Soror Hickmon’s family for supporting Soror Hickmon through 39 years of exceptional service in Delta. To provide additional comfort to the family and members of our sisterhood, Delta’s National Chaplain’s Council disseminated a prayer guide with uplifting scriptures. The scripture from the prayer guide that I hope inspires our hearts is found in Philippians 4:7. It declares, “And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” The scripture reassured me as I watched news reports and saw social media’s floodgate of emotion in response to Soror Hickmon’s untimely passing. However, more concern surfaced when, a Soror I know personally stated she was “devastated.”
After anxiously waking up from a dream that night, I asked God the same questions Psalm 42:11 poses, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?” Immediately I sensed; Soror Hickmon’s passing was having an unprecedented effect on our sorority. Fortunately, Delta is well suited for and experienced in giving support during times of trouble and will continue to extend its hand of comfort to Soror Hickmon’s family and to those who worked closely with her as they say their heartfelt goodbyes. As for the more than 350,000 sorority sisters, nationally and internationally, we must consider other circumstances that maybe impacting the overall morale of our sisterhood. Keeping the sanctity of our sisterhood strong during times of trial assures that the vital goals of our organization (which include our sorority’s five-point program) continue to thrive. In addition to the difficulty of the first-time loss of a sitting President during Delta’s 109 years of incorporation, two years of covid-19 challenges may have added to the distraught feelings many sorors experienced upon learning of Soror Hickmon’s passing. The social, political, financial, health, and relational stress exasperated by the pandemic are the result of the long-standing disenfranchisement, poverty, and injustice in the Black community that Delta Sigma Theta (along with other service orientated organizations such as those represented in the Divine Nine) have worked tirelessly for decades to change.
Although grateful for the stress relief of a good cry, the pandemic’s undercurrent may find many of us crying a little harder and grieving a little longer as we salute Soror Hickmon’s excellent leadership to our sorority and outstanding service to the Black community. Fortunately, Delta Sigma Theta is firmly founded on Christian principles and faith. So Sorors, as we cry, let us cry as ones knowing the hope of eternity. As we grieve, let us grieve confessing 2 Corinthians 4:8-10, “We are pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair…[for] we always carry around in our body [the resurrection power] of Jesus…” In closing, I employ my beloved sisters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority to be encouraged by Soror Hickmon’s dedication so that we, as overcomers, run this race victoriously. According to the faithful promise of Philippians 1:6, let us be confident saying one to another, “The God Eternal, Who began a good work in you [Sorors,] will carry it out to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.” Now Sorors, pass the box of tissue, hand out red and white mints, and (by all means) with greater diligence we must continue the noble work of Delta, for this is the greatest salute we can give to Soror Hickmon for the Delta service and sisterhood she cherished so dearly.
For the Love of Sisterhood and Service,
Soror Beulah Epperson
Texas Southern University,
Delta Gamma Chapter, Spring 1978
North Harris County Alumnae Chapter, Texas