University of Alabama Integrates Sororities

Persistent relic of segregation ends as black women join white Greek organizations

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The present finally rejected the past at the University of Alabama. On Friday, more than a week after a story about persistent segregation in the school’s sorority system attracted national attention, multiple African American women accepted bids to join traditionally white sororities. The move ends the last bastion of segregation at the tradition-bound southern university.

“I’m kind of still in shock and awe,” says Melanie Gotz, a member of Alpha Gamma Delta, one of the sororities to admit its first black member. “It doesn’t seem like history has happened, but it did, and it’s amazing.”

The news erupted across student and alumni social media networks after a picture of Halle Lindsay wearing an Alpha Gamma Delta T-shirt was shared on Instagram. Cami McCant accepted a bid to join Kappa Alpha Theta, breaking the racial barrier at another traditionally white sorority. The news of their bids was first reported by al.com. As of Friday evening, at least four black women and two other minorities had accepted bids to join historically white sororities, according to a video statement by University President Judy Bonner.

(MORE: University of Alabama Moves to End Segregated Sorority System)

A critical spotlight has been on Alabama since a story published Sept. 11 in the school’s student newspaper, The Crimson White, showed in startling detail how an unofficial but rigidly enforced system of segregation has kept black women from joining the elite Greek organizations. Members of the traditionally white sororities said they were pressured by alumnae to keep black women from joining. The practice was widely known to students and alumni and had been reported before, but the latest incidents seemed to touch an especially raw nerve. Current students were largely for integration and the school’s administration, which had long resisted getting involved, was compelled to act.

By Sunday, President Bonner had announced plans for an open bidding process that would allow traditionally white sororities to accept new members on a rolling basis for the rest of the year with the explicit purpose of increasing diversity.

“I’m encouraged,” says John England, a member of the school’s board of trustees. England’s granddaughter, a standout student who was rejected from sororities because of her race, was featured in the Crimson White article. It’s not yet clear whether she has since accepted a sorority bid.

England praised the sorority members and other students who pushed for integration in the wake of the story. “I think that it is heartwarming to see young folks come forward and express their disagreement, their frustration over not being able to admit a student who they would like to admit because of that student’s race.”

(MORE: At University of Alabama, Sisterhood is Prejudiced)

Intense outside pressure has forced Alabama to act on the issue with a swiftness that few anticipated. On Thursday an official with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Birmingham confirmed that a federal prosecutor was monitoring the situation at the University for signs of racial progress.

Today, though, young women in the sorority system are celebrating. “I walked in the house and everyone was so happy,” Gotz says of the mood. “I learned more in a week than other girls would ever have a chance to in a lifetime.”

115 comments
blackgurltech
blackgurltech

I am a member of a historically black sorority and we have been admitting non-black members for decades. But first and foremost the choice is theirs to seek membership. And they join with the full knowledge that they will be working to serve their campus community, and then the Black Community at large.

I myself have inducted a member who is ethnically from Thailand.

Now us Black Greeks have our own separate traditions and culture and that is the one thing that won't change. Any one who thinks they can meet our membership requirements and subscribes to our cultural norms, mission statements, values, principles, and initiatives is welcome to seek membership. The best part is you can even seek membership AFTER college.

Did you know that President Clinton IS a member of a Black Fraternity? Did you know that Eleanor Roosevelt was a member of a Black Sorority?

There is plenty of evidence on youtube and other places to show that we have always welcomed diversity.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFSDXJvBU8M

jeh8116
jeh8116

Just curious ...are the 4 traditionally African American sororities on campus also required to integrate?  What percentage of their membership belong to other races?

Peggysmom
Peggysmom

How sweet, now black girls can buy useless friends just like their white counterparts.

OpinedMind
OpinedMind

self hating Africans continue to join the #GreekLife. ought to be ashamed. Guess that's why they call themselves Black. #CrayolaLogic

Bojangles5595
Bojangles5595

Alabama cracks me up. Racist, crappy, white-trash state that WORSHIPS a football team that is all black so long as the coach and QB are white .

OldNassau
OldNassau

Observations
1. Last January, these white sisters cheered for Alabama's all-black starter #1 football team ("Certainly, there’s no doubt that the presence of black athletes today is a major factor in the SEC being guaranteed a sixth consecutive BCS national championship Monday when Alabama meets LSU in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. All 22 defensive starters on the two teams are African-Americans, 13 playing at their home state’s flagship universities and the rest from the states which were in the Confederacy. " (Times-Picayune, 1/4/13)
2. When some white sisters join previously black sororities, then integration has started at  UA's Greeks. When bids are race-blind, then integration has come. A few tokens don't = integration.

stratozyck
stratozyck

Now black women can join the elite stuck up b*tch club.

faithbasedhate
faithbasedhate

Here's the (sh*t) kicker: 

These people go to church on Sundays

faithbasedhate
faithbasedhate

Who cares people!! This is a football school in the south. Send your kids to an educational institution and they will be fine.

shoelesssteve
shoelesssteve

This is 2013...right...unbelievable. I lived in AL for 24 yrs and this puts a dark cloud over this state. Any black tide football recruit should take notice and go to another school that doesn't practice segregation...even if only in their sororities. Hit 'em where it hurts and in the South, that is football. I find it hard to believe that this wasn't exposed before this...in the age of all consuming media...nothing...how was this hid so effectively??

faithbasedhate
faithbasedhate

I am not sure if this is an awkward case of watching a horribly disabled person trying to clime up the stairs or a funny white southerner doing his thing... either way, Alabama is a strange place.

And they all go to church on Sundays. My mind is blown into pieces.

MartinMiller
MartinMiller

Better late than never.  Let's not forget we have an ongoing Civil Cold War between Red (Neo-Confederate) and blue states.  

I'm sick of it, especially the racist attacks on President Obama.  Bleep the Tea Party and the Klansmen in business suits who are getting way too much coverage and open mic access by the dumb mainstream media.  Even MSNBC gives these lying lunatics a platform...

Archemoros
Archemoros

"The move ends the last bastion of segregation at the tradition-bound southern university."

"Tradition-bound" is an awfully polite way to say "evil, racist".

designcreature
designcreature

I do not believe in segration. However, I do not believe we should automatically convert every institution into a politically correct situation.  Afirmative Action was th worse form of trying to equal races. It will never happen. It should always be on merit and not skin color.

If whites and blacks want their own soroities then let them keep them. Don't force the issue because resentments are bound to happen. I feel it is the cramming down our throats of minorities that keep the pot boiling and that is raging all over the country now.

We are losing the ability to run our business as we see fit. If we want to reserve the right to not serve or admit a black person, or anyone else for that matter, we should be allowed that freedom. I won't go into a predominately black bar just because I feel I should be allowed to That is not intergration.

writingOnTheWall
writingOnTheWall

why is a federal prosecutor monitoring the situation closely? "Intense outside pressure has forced Alabama to act". Who applied intense outside pressure and why? what business is it of the federal government to regulate sororities?


Intense outside pressure has forced Alabama to act on the issue with a swiftness that few anticipated. On Thursday an official with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Birmingham confirmed that a federal prosecutor was monitoring the situation at the University for signs of racial progress.


laboxter407
laboxter407

What about the all black sororities and fraternities all over the nation? Any chance of forced integration there? Or is this a case of do as I say, not as I do?

CScottCrider
CScottCrider

The Alums should be ashamed of themselves. Alabama - not just the University, but the entire state - should be ashamed if them. I certainly am. Scott CriderGulf Shores

Dappersmile
Dappersmile

It is most unfortunate that there is malicious prejudice and bias that still exist. Even by educating the masses, individuals still hold onto their individual naive beliefs usually composed of opinions not fact. However individuals do have the right to congregate with whom they wish. Sororities and fraternities are organizations that individuals join because they are based  with tenets, actions or a mission that all share with. So what if there is an all black entity, or an all white entity, or an all Italian entity, or an all gay entity.The rules must be applied equally to all groups equally without bias or preference. This would mean NO exclusive race, ethnic, sexuality, etc... entity. But this would make all sororities or fraternities generic. Then what is the differences between them.  If their actions or tenets or other consideration based on malicious bias, prejudice, exclusiveness, etc... they should be banned. If they are entities based on similar interest or considerations and they act in a manner representative of their community, whats the harm? Are the Sons of Italy all mobsters? Are all GLBT groups extreme or flamboyant? Are all Middle Eastern groups members of Al Queda? Are all Republicans with their head up their ass? Are all Democrats with their heads up everyone else s ass? No those are most likely extreme and infrequent occurences. There is no harm in mutual socialization of those with similiar interest. But the rules must apply to all sections not to be enforced selectively.

Smarg
Smarg

More White genocide, cheered on by the mainstream media.

God help us.

blackgurltech
blackgurltech

@jeh8116 We don't have to be required to integrate. Any woman who meets our requirements for membership is free to pursue membership.  African-American Sororities have been integrated since the 1940s.


MidOfTheRoad
MidOfTheRoad

@Bojangles5595 This is an incredibly bigoted statement.  To  characterize all Alabamians as "racist", "crappy", and "white-trash" shows how little you actually know about the state or the people of Alabama.  I hope you realize, as you reflect on your comment, that you are making a prejudice statement when you stereotype all Alabamians (not all that different from the same prejudice statements made by the sorority advisers at UA).

stevedumford
stevedumford

@Bojangles5595 Never have been able to figure out why so many black players play for teams in the South where hardly any of the fans would consent to having them over for dinner.  And that includes professional teams.  Money over principles.  It's Rome and the gladiators all over again.  Except in this case the "gladiators" willingly play for their masters.  

small_axe
small_axe

@stratozyck Always the same. Unfortunately few are opposed to oppression, including the oppressed. There is as much, or more desire on the part of oppressed people to be able to one day oppress others as there is an innate opposition to oppression itself. Human nature.

OpinedMind
OpinedMind

@writingOnTheWall - if the University of Alabama accepts Federal funding then its the business of the federal government to regulate the University - and the sororities it allows to operate on its campus.

If anyone gives anyone else money and the receiver helps racistactivities, then the giver has a right to know.

scarshapedstar
scarshapedstar

@laboxter407

Maybe you should look into the details of who wanted to integrate (the actual students) and who refused (the old hag alumni club).

Cobalt1
Cobalt1

@laboxter407 Let's not forget the annual Miss Black America contest.  Not a chance a White person will be allowed to compete.

CWGOFF
CWGOFF

@laboxter407 As a member of one of the historically black fraternities, we do accept white members.

Dappersmile
Dappersmile

@laboxter407 Rules should be applied equally across the board. This will include all Afro-American entities regardless of whatever reason for their formation.

small_axe
small_axe

@Smarg What you call racial genocide isn't racial at all, the only thing being exterminated is racial bigotry and ignorance.

scarshapedstar
scarshapedstar

@Smarg That's right, white women die in the presence of black women. Your Nobel Prize awaits.

kaciimichellee
kaciimichellee

@blackgurltech As a non-black female in an NPHC sorority, that is not always true as I was denied even a pamphlet because of my race. I'm also in a PHC sorority which has never had to be forced to integrate and has people of all different ethnic backgrounds. No council is perfect, as it all depends on the university and organization itself.

JBKaye13
JBKaye13

@stevedumford @Bojangles5595 For many of those young men, whose families are caught in the spiral of poverty, racism, and classism that continues to disfavor 90% of the African Americans in the South, that football team may be their one shot at making something of themselves, whether their goal is to try for the NFL or just to be the first person in their family to go to college.  Try not to judge until you really understand what life is like for people who live differently from you.

scarshapedstar
scarshapedstar

@laboxter407 

The only people being "forced" to do anything are a bunch of blue-hairs who are "forced" to have some vague knowledge of one of Those People living in the same house they did. Well, probably not the same house, it's probably been rebuilt, but you know, potentially the same plot of land, and the same greek letters - OH THE HUMANITY!

MsANicole
MsANicole

@small_axe, and what you're saying here isn't mean-spirited and wrong?  Please back up these "facts" with references.  Otherwise, it's just idle-speak.  

Furthermore, I have not personally heard anyone reference north vs. south - only in historical context via discussions of the Civil War.  Southern states contribute to the Federal pot just as ALL other states do.  ALL states benefit from Federal funding (for their indoor plumbing), not just southern states.  Demeaning the south in this context is petty and useless fodder and deters from the real issue at hand.  #StayFocused

small_axe
small_axe

@MsANicole @Bojangles5595 But it doesn't change the fact that California ( and other blue states) federal taxes are syphoned off to help the southern states that, on average, are apparently either too dumb or too lazy to help themselves.

This is made worse by having to hear southern white conservatives call hard working northerners lazy takers. It is delusional. It is mean spirited. It is dead wrong.

The south ought to be grateful for our having supported yall all this time.

We don't ask for thanks, but please can it with the anti-north bs-- without our help the southern states could provide indoor plumbing for their residents.

MsANicole
MsANicole

@Bojangles5595, as a resident of California and native of Alabama,  I find this statement just as bigoted as your last.  What you're doing is essentially showing the core of what makes some who are prejudice, prejudiced: ignorance.  It would behoove you to learn more about something (in this case Alabama AND how the federal government operates) before making a statement.  Otherwise you just look foolish.  #JustTryingToHelpYouOut

OpinedMind
OpinedMind

@JBKaye13 hundreds of other schools offer scholarships to those students. If Alabama is considering giving them a scholarship then EVERY OTHER SCHOOL IS TOO.

#UncleToms who continue to choose to attend racist, bigoted universities ought to accept their label.

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