The month of May provides an opportunity to pay tribute to mothers and the legacies they leave, as well as the legacy of others. Merriam Webster Dictionary defines legacy as, “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor.”
Women’s sororities capture the definition of the word legacy, encompassing both the spirit of the dictionary definition and the timeless tradition of paying forward the heritage of sorority membership from one generation to the next.
For sororities, a legacy may include mother to daughter, grandmother to granddaughter, aunt to niece, sister to sister and so forth. I am just that, a legacy! My mother, sister and I share the same membership legacy through our national sorority. This familial practice of sharing history, founding principles and values has greatly affected and contributed to the continued growth of inter/national sororities.
Is a sorority legacy restricted to membership in her ancestral sorority? The answer is no. Is membership in an inter/national women's sorority composed only of legacies? Again, the answer is no. Many families share the gift of sorority membership through Panhellenic ties. See the story of one such family’s experience, featured on Page 28 of “Themis” of Zeta Tau Alpha.
Why share the story of legacy and legacies? While in Washington, D.C., recently with more than 200 sorority and fraternity alumni and collegians, each of us was asked to articulate the value and benefits of our membership while lobbying on behalf of the fraternal community. Defending the right to exist as single-gender (women and men's) organizations, the right to associate, to provide safe spaces and housing for our youngest members — all this is possible only because of the legacy of lifelong membership, passed down in some cases from generation to generation. A lifetime membership is grounded in the rich and intentional founding principles and values of each sorority and fraternity.
Leaving a legacy, being a legacy and sharing a legacy is a rich testament to the sorority experience. Join me in honoring the decades of legacy of others to sorority, and those today who advocate tirelessly on behalf of the sorority experience.
And happy Mother’s Day to all sorority women who are mothers and to the moms who support their daughters in their sorority membership.
Donna C. King