Delta Sigma Theta pays trib­ute to soror, the Queen of Soul

The Record (Troy, NY) - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Er­rin Haines Whack

DETROIT » What be­gan as a thin line swelled into a sea of sis­ter­hood as hun­dreds of mem­bers of Delta Sigma Theta streamed into the ro­tunda of the Charles H. Wright Mu­seum on Tues­day to pay trib­ute to the Queen of Soul, a mem­ber of the soror­ity.

The mov­ing cer­e­mony, known as the Omega Omega Ser­vice, was the lat­est tes­ta­ment to the life and legacy of Aretha Franklin, who was re­mem­bered by her sis­ters as a proud black woman who de­manded re­spect and loved her com­mu­nity.

“She loved Delta and its ideals ... she looked for the best in oth­ers. Her life was an in­spi­ra­tion,” said U. S. House Rep. Brenda Lawrence, a mem­ber of the soror­ity who was elected the first black mayor of South­field, Michi­gan, in 2001.

At least 1,000 Delta Sigma Thetas from across the coun­try at­tended the ser­vice, which lasted nearly an hour and is tra­di­tion­ally per­formed for any mem­ber be­fore her fu­neral. Stand­ing in a semi­cir­cle sur­round­ing Franklin’s fam­ily, the women filed in for nearly 10 min­utes wear­ing black dresses, pearl neck-

laces, and cor­sages of African vi­o­lets, the soror­ity’s of­fi­cial flower.

The tra­di­tional ser­vice saluted Franklin with words, scrip­ture and songs.

Par­tic­u­larly emo­tional was the singing of the Delta Prayer, which filled the ro­tunda as Franklin’s sis­ters ser­e­naded her in uni­son.

Franklin was in­ducted as an honorary mem­ber of Delta Sigma Theta in 1992. The soror­ity is among the cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions she loved, in­clud­ing the black church and his­tor­i­cally

black col­leges.

Delta Sigma Theta was founded in 1913 at Howard Univer­sity in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. Among its mem­bers are poet Nikki Gio­vanni, pi­o­neer i ng con­gress­woman Shirley Chisholm, en­ter­tainer Lena Horne, ac­tresses Ruby Dee and Cicely Tyson and civil rights ac­tivist Dorothy Height.

Franklin’s com­mit­ment to so­cial jus­tice and ac­tion was in keep­ing with Delta Sigma Theta’s roots and mis­sion, said Na­tional Pres­i­dent Bev­erly E. Smith.

“She was a true, strong Delta and em­bod­ied who we are through the songs she sang, through the way she con­ducted her­self and through the bold­ness she took in terms of so­cial jus­tice,” Smith said in an in­ter­view af­ter the ser­vice.

On the first day of her public view­ing ahead of her fu­neral ser­vices on Fri­day, Franklin was re­splen­dent in her soror­ity’s sig­na­ture crim­son. She wore the color from head to toe, in­clud­ing red Christian Louboutin stiletto heels, red lip­stick and red nail pol­ish.

Thou­sands of mourn­ers poured into the mu­seum to pay their fi­nal re­spects to Franklin, who died Aug. 16 of pan­cre­atic can­cer at the age of 76. The two- day view­ing was part of a week of com­mem­o­ra­tions for the leg­end.

At the end of the Delta Sigma Theta cer­e­mony, Franklin’s sorors filed past her pol­ished bronze cas- ket to say good­bye in a fi­nal act of sis­ter­hood. Smith said that women came from across the coun­try to show their re­spect and sol­i­dar­ity.

“That’s the strength of the bond we have, mak­ing sure as black women we sup­port each other,” Smith said. “They didn’t come from them­selves; they’re just a num­ber in the crowd. But they came to sup­port one who meant some­thing to us and who meant some­thing to this coun­try.”

CAR­LOS OSORIO — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The gold cas­ket of leg­endary singer Aretha Franklin leaves the Charles H. Wright Mu­seum of African Amer­i­can His­tory, late Tues­day in Detroit. Franklin died Aug. 16and will be laid to rest on Fri­day af­ter sev­eral days of trib­utes in Detroit.

CAR­LOS OSORIO — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Hun­dreds of mem­bers of Delta Sigma Theta have paid trib­ute to their soror, Aretha Franklin at the Charles H. Wright Mu­seum of African Amer­i­can His­tory, Tues­day in Detroit. The soror­ity’s tra­di­tional Omega Omega ser­vice lasted nearly an hour, salut­ing Franklin with song, scrip­ture and words. Franklin, who was in­ducted into Delta Sigma Theta as an honorary mem­ber in 1992, was re­mem­bered as for her re­gal pres­ence and love of her com­mu­nity.

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