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Sorority - Imus debacle an opportunity for all to teach

April 15, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA.-The outrage sparked by radio talk show host Don Imus presents an opportunity to educate the community about what is acceptable, the president of a newly formed Eastern Panhandle chapter of the world's largest African-American Greek-lettered organization said Saturday.

"It's a teaching experience for us as a whole," said Carla L. Hunter, president of the Eastern Panhandle Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. It is an organization of college-educated women committed to the betterment of the community.

"We need to band together and educate," said Hunter, who is the dean of counseling at Jefferson High School.

Hunter's sentiments shared prior to the chapter's chartering banquet at the Holiday Inn were expounded upon by Phyllis H. Carter, the state coordinator of the West Virginia chapters of the sorority. Carter is the chief administrative law judge of the West Virginia Human Rights Commission.

Carter said Imus' remarks were denigrating to all women, not just African-Americans, and noted that the sexist portrayal of women and racial slurs in song lyrics should not be tolerated.

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"These are very real issues that we have to deal with as a country," Carter said.

Darlene Pollard, the sorority's Midwest Region coordinator, said the organization's efforts to reach out to the community, through mentoring, wellness and scholarship programs, will have a positive effect.

"We would like (young black women) to see there are college-educated women that are involved in their community," Pollard said.

Hunter said the newly formed chapter will avoid replicating what community service efforts already are under way by first completing an assessment of the Eastern Panhandle's needs.

The banquet was held to formally announce the chapter's arrival and willingness to serve the community alongside other similar groups.

Speaking as a professional counselor, Hunter said she tries to make students realize their abilities or build upon what they might be good at doing.

"They need somebody who is going to encourage them ... consistency and structure," she said.

Hunter doesn't believe children's needs today are much different than in years past.

"The more things change, the more things stay the same," Hunter said.

The chapter for Berkeley and Jefferson counties joins more than 900 in the U.S. and several countries around the world, Carter said.

"For us to charter a chapter in the Eastern Panhandle is very important," said Carter, noting numerous alumni either have moved to the growing region or have been able to return home from college chapters to work.

The sorority has three undergraduate and five alumnae chapters in West Virginia and more than 200,000 members around the world.

For information about Delta Sigma Theta, go to deltasigmatheta.org.

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