In 1923, Gamma Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. was organized in Atlanta, Georgia on the campus of Atlanta University under the direction of Fannie O’Bannon. In 1929, the name was changed to Eta Sigma. Charter members were Annie Roland Hall (principal organizer), Lady I. Goosby, Maudine Brick Reynolds, Gertrude Brick Lovingood, Maude Tolbert, Clara Pitts, Kate Goosby Crumley, Maggie Atkinson, Ernestine Bell Lewis, Janie Goosby, Ruby Wise, Henrietta Brandon, Myrtle Ester, and Lois Burgen. Clara Pitts, founder of the Carrie Steel-Pitts Home, was the first Basileus of the chapter.
Eta Sigma Chapter since its inception has geared its programs towards the mission and aim set forth by the parent body – enhancing the quality of life within the community, promoting high scholastic attainment, public service, leadership development, and education of youth.
These goals have been successfully achieved through implementation of programs encompassing every segment of the community. Current programs and their purposes are: George Washington Carver Essay Contests (the life and work of Carver), Mwanamugimu Essay Contest, (increases knowledge of African nations and research skills), Project Reassurance (prevention of teenage pregnancy), Wee Savers (knowledge of banking skills and value), Debutante Ball (introduction of young ladies to society), Operation Big Book Bag (provide homeless shelters and children’s hospitals with educational materials, equipment, and school supplies), Rhoer Club (activities for middle and high school girls), Citywide Youth Symposium (preparation of youth for life experiences), Buckle Up America (increases awareness of seat belt safety), scholarship awards ($3,000 to $10,000 annually to needy students), and support of five undergraduate chapters.
Additionally, Eta Sigma has impacted the community socially, civically, educationally, and economically by physically participating in voter registration drives, activities of the National Council of Negro Women, National Pan-Hellenic Council, and Carrie Steele-Pitts Home, Breast Cancer Awareness Walk, AIDS Walk, March of Dimes Walk America, and the Martin Luther King Week Parade.
With pride the Debutante Ball is acknowledge as the most successful of all chapter activities because of its popularity after a fifty-five year life span. This is because of the varied and outstanding achievements of its participants and the respect shown by the citizens of Atlanta towards its continual presentation.
Because of the leadership abilities of chapter members, National and Regional offices have been held by many. They are: Evenly H. Hood (Past Grand Basileus), Winfred Jones (First Grand Anti-Basileua), Ruby Tatum, Ernestine Bell (Members of the National Board of Directors), Ruby Wise, Elizabeth Leamon, Ann Broughton (Southeast Region Syntaktes), Winnie Smith, Hulda Wilson, Gwendolyn Carswell, Mae Eva Wesley (Southeast Region Anti-Grammateus), Juanita Love (Southeast Trustee of National Education Fund), Clara Pitts (National Chaplin), Edith Gibson (Southeast Region Tamiochus).
Through the hard work of its members, Eta Sigma has been the recipient of the following awards: Outstanding Chapter Report, Attendance, Most Outstanding Chapter Activities, National Headquarters Scroll of Honor (Lorraine A. Williams), Chapter Display, Project Reassurance, Sigma of the Year, Mary Lou Allison Little Loving Cup, Rejesta B. Perry Project Reassurance, Hattie Redford, Largest Chapter Membership in Southeast Region, and Outstanding Alumnae Chapter.
Eta Sigma Chapter remains united in purposes and efforts to our motto “Greater Service, Greater Progress” by dutifully implementing the projects and programs set forth by the parent body – enhancing the quality of life throughout the community socially, civically, and economically.