Delta Zeta Women's Membership Organization | Delta Zeta Sorority

February 26, 2022

By: Madeline Burkhardt, Beta Xi, Auburn University

Adult Education Coordinator and Curator at Rosa Parks Museum

Sisters, as members of our Sorority we promise to uphold Delta Zeta’s Creed. We repeat it at every chapter meeting and at many alumnae meet ups. As women, in a predominately white, cisgender sorority, it is more crucial than ever that we keep our promise of temperance, insight, courage and the strength to crusade for justice throughout the world – there are no asterisks.

One of the best first steps we can take on this crusade for justice is to be aware of policies being passed (or voted down) and current human rights matters. Are we not still outraged by the senseless killings throughout the country? By voter suppression? By the rapid regression of human rights in our country? Why do we remain complicit?

When I was asked to contribute to the blog, I thought about how I don’t feel comfortable self-identifying as an ally because that characterization is not up to me but to others. I hope others see my actions as those of an ally, but it’s their opinions of what I do that determine my status.

To be an ally, you need the temperance, insight and courage from our Creed, and you must act on those ideals without hesitation. As you are reading this, laws are being passed around our country that limit or revoke voting rights, women’s rights and other human rights. It’s not enough to post Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes if you do not live by those words. If you quote those foot soldiers while simultaneously banning the accurate, in-depth version of their stories, how are we supposed to be more equitable? I repeat, there are no asterisks to the promises we make in the Delta Zeta Creed.

As the adult education coordinator and curator at the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, it is my responsibility that each interaction I have with visitors or outside of work upholds Mrs. Parks’ legacy. As a white woman, I am in a position to represent and defend a history that was unfamiliar to me because it was not part of my lived experience. I fully intend to use my privilege to help others embrace the resiliency of those who came before us, and those whose work we have yet to see. I wholeheartedly acknowledge that my privilege brought me into this space and that there is so much more I have yet to unlearn and learn anew. It wasn’t until I started talking to visitors and community members that the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement fully came alive in my eyes. We are talking too much and listening too little.

For me, empathy is necessary to understanding cultures and histories that you are unfamiliar with. For so long, whitewashed versions of history have prevailed which dehumanize people who are not white, able-bodied, cisgender, and/or heterosexual. Education is key, but that education should be compassionate, factual and well rounded. In my opinion, banning teaching about slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, the genocide of Native Americans and the Holocaust would be completely regressive towards our goal of equity. Delta Zetas all made a promise to “seek the truth and defend it always.” Defending those truths may come at a price. You may lose people that you considered friends, have a different view than family members or even find yourself in difficult conversations online. However, cliché as this may sound, you will always have this sisterhood to turn to.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best when he stated, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” And sisters, I beg you not to stay silent.

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