24th Annual Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Heart & Soul
Ensuring Excellence in the Next Generation
|Rosa Thompson (l-r), co-chair of the 24th Annual Heart & Soul
Scholarship Ball and Madison Alumnae President Terri Strong are
two of the 52 reasons the Deltas have a strong impact on Madison’s
African American community and beyond.
By Jonathan Gramling
As the Madison Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority has evolved in the 42 years
since its founding in 1977, its programming has become fuller, meeting the needs of
succeeding generations as its membership has matured and regenerated itself in each
successive generation. In some ways, the Madison Alumnae Chapter is reaping what it has
“In fourth grade, Ms. Stanford Taylor was my principal at Marquette Elementary School,” said
Rosa Thompson, a teacher at Hawthorne Elementary and the co-chair of the Delta’s Heart &
Soul Ball. “She is one of the reasons why I wanted to become a Delta. She has always just
carried herself very well. She is someone I looked up to and I always wanted to be a teacher.
I knew from first grade that I wanted to be a teacher. She was someone who reflected what I
wanted to be. During my time at Clark-Atlanta, I was into different things. I ended up studying
abroad and so, I was off campus for a year and ended up not pledging. When I came back
here, I got reconnected and I ended up joining the Madison Alumnae Chapter.”
The Madison Alumnae Chapter has consistently made its presence known in Madison’s African American community and beyond through a broad array of
programming designed to meet the needs of young and old alike.
Last September, in collaboration with the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the Deltas worked on mental health issues in the African American community.
“We did Part One of Take Off the Mask, an event where we brought women of color together to talk about depression and emotional issues that we sometimes are
afraid to talk about or don’t know how to talk about,” said Terri Strong, near the end of her second term as the Delta’s president. “We held it at the Badger Rock
Neighborhood Center. We probably had well over 50 people in attendance. It worked out very, very nicely. We got a lot of positive feedback.”
The Deltas believe in hitting the new year at full-throttle in providing service to the community. And it all begins with the King Holiday weekend.
“We hosted the Governor’s Reception after the event at the State Capitol,” Strong said. “We also ushered at the evening event, the City-County King Holiday
Observance. We’ve been doing both of these for more than 10 years. Service is who we are. Service is in our hearts. And this is the way to make sure that people
know that and we remember that. Dr. Gloria Hawkins, the co-chair of the King Coalition is a Delta. She always calls and says, ‘Terri, I need about 7-8 Deltas.’ And we
always make it happen. Our King Holiday weekends are definitely busy. Again it just allows us to really showcase who we are and what we do. It’s just a regular
day of programming for us. But everyone makes the comment, ‘Yep, I saw you all there. I saw you all here. I saw red, red, red.’”
For the past several years, the Deltas have been encouraging young African American writers and the effort culminates during the King Holiday weekend.
“We had our Creative Writing Awards presented at the Urban League Outstanding Young Person Breakfast,” Strong said. “That’s something that Soror Biddle started.
She forged that relationship with the Urban League. Being able to present the Creative Writing Awards at that event gives us a venue and a platform to showcase
those students. We had six award winners.
The Deltas has also had its winners in the political arena as two of its members will be making their impact on state government this spring.
“Newly installed State Representative Shelia Stubbs is a Delta,” Strong observed. “We are so excited about her being a state representative for the 77th District. We
have been behind her the whole way and continue to support her. She knows that whenever she needs us, she can call on us. She’s going to be very instrumental
in helping us to put together the Delta Days at the State Capitol. And we can expect just an amazing time with all of the Deltas from around the state to come in and
speak to our legislators and talk about what our agenda is, hear what their agenda is and figure out how that can all work together. My gosh, Carolyn Stanford Taylor
is the state superintendent of public instruction. It’s amazing. It’s an amazing appointment. We are very, very happy for her. In fact tomorrow, after our chapter
meeting, we’re going to have a reception brunch for her. Carolyn is going to be able to highlight a lot of things that she has been thinking of over the years and now it
is her time to shine in that office and do some amazing things. Equity and inclusion are very big on her agenda. We’re going to see some positive, forward
movement on those issues.”
The Madison Alumnae Chapter will also be leaving its mark on the state Delta organization.
“Within our chapter, our state coordinator is Yolanda Shelton Morris,” Strong said. “She is like the president of the state of Wisconsin for Deltas. We’re excited that
we have her in that role. That’s the second one from the Madison Alumnae Chapter. Carola Gaines was the previous one. That’s very good for the state of Wisconsin
and for our chapter.”
The Deltas are also concerned about the intergenerational growth and well-being of Madison’s African American community and how wealth is retained within the
“We have Preparing for Generational Wealth,” Strong said. “That’s our economic development programming. That’s happening on January 30th. We have two parts,
January 31st and February 27th. Angela Davis is the chair of our economic development committee. We’re focusing this year on generational wealth. What can we
do to make sure that those we leave behind have something? A lot of African Americans and others don’t think like that. We don’t have that. We spend more per
capita than any other group. We’re trying to switch that around, definitely. What kind of legacy can you leave behind for your children and grandchildren and for
siblings” What can you do? This is the start of having those discussions. We’re bringing in presenters to talk about how we can plan for that. How can we change
our mindset? This is going to happen at the Dreambank on E. Washington Avenue in the new facility. We’re doing it in collaboration with Park Bank.”
Probably the most important thing that the Deltas do year in and year out is provide scholarships to deserving African American high school seniors at the Madison
Metropolitan Links African American Student Recognition each year. They have awarded over $200,000 in scholarships to date. And in order to raise those funds —
and help the community beat those winter blues — the Deltas have hosted the Heart & Soul Scholarship Ball for the past 24 years.
And as the community still relishes the Black Panther movie and anticipates its sequel, the Deltas have incorporated that spirit into Heart & Soul.
“This year, we are hosting our 24th Annual Heart & Soul Ball February
9th, 7-11 p.m. at Monona Terrace,” Thompson said. “Our theme is ‘The
Royal Gala.’ We are celebrating the kings and queens of the past,
present and future. We’re encouraging people to come out in either their
finest attire or in Wakanda-inspired attire. We’re looking forward to
having it at Monona Terrace. This will be our first year there. We’re
looking forward to have a good time. It will be festive.”
Heart & Soul is always a classy and elegant affair that provides a
relaxing, yet engaging evening with the little touches that the Deltas use
to make Heart & Soul their signature event.
“This year, we have The Rick Flowers Band at the beginning,”
Thompson said to coax people to be there from the beginning. “We’ll
have some heavy hors d’oeurves throughout the evening served in
little stations around the room. We’re going to do a 50/50 raffle so that
half of the proceeds will go towards our scholarships. We’ll have a
short program and then DJ Ace will come on to take us through the rest
of the evening. It’s a great evening. Our goal is to raise $9,000 towards
the scholarships and we have passed that. We want to give back as
much as we can. We have some nice things planned this year that go
along with our kings and queens theme. You just have to come and
check it out.”
This Heart & Soul will be Strong’s last one as president. She will be
stepping down June 1st.
“It’s been wonderful,” Strong exclaimed. “It’s been humbling. I’ve
learned a lot about myself. I learned a lot about my sorors, a lot about
the Deltas and there is so much more to learn. We have a great chapter
and there is no way that I could have done this by myself. I always felt
that my sorors were surrounding me and keeping me and the chapter
afloat as we did our work and programming, as we made plans and
carried out our agenda.”
Reflective of the Deltas, Strong’s term has been a job well done.
The cost of tickets for Heart & Soul is $45 for adults, $75 for couples
and $35 for students. A table for 10 people costs $320. Tickets can be
purchased up until the day of the event when the price goes up to $60.
Tickets can be purchased online at, https://www.eventbrite.com or by
contacting any Delta member.