Phylicia Rashād on the legacy of the AKAs highlighted in ‘Twenty Pearls’

“When you pledge a fraternity or a sorority, you learn the names of the founders and the year in which it was founded,” she instructed CNN. “But the detailed history that’s in this documentary, we did not learn that as pledgees.”

“Twenty Pearls” tells the story of the first Black sorority, which was based in 1908 by 9 ladies enrolled at Howard University.

The AKAs, as members are known as, presently quantity than 300,000 all through the world. Along with Rashād, the group’s membership consists of the first African-American feminine astronaut, Mae C. Jemison and the present Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris.

Vice President Harris is amongst the ladies interviewed for the movie by director Deborah Riley Draper.

“It’s an honor to elevate the stories of Black women who have influenced American society using the tools I know and love,” Draper, who can be a member of the sorority, recently told author Nsenga Okay. Burton.

The sisterhood amongst the ladies has been pivotal in the lives of many of its members, Rashād mentioned.

The esteemed actress pledged throughout a tumultuous time interval that included the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose spouse Coretta Scott King was additionally an AKA.

Rashād mentioned that one of the issues she loves about the documentary is that’s focuses on the sorority being at the forefront of a lot in historical past, together with a healthcare initiative they began in Mississippi throughout the Great Depression that went on to assist vaccinate Black individuals who have been struggling underneath Jim Crow legal guidelines.

“With this documentary to learn about the activism among women back in 1923, I’m talking about political activism,” she mentioned. “In the Women’s Suffrage Movement — not being asked to participate — however, that did not deter the women [of AKA] from action.”

“The women were never idle,” Rashād mentioned of these unique members and people who got here after them in the early years. “They were very, very active socially, politically, moving for education, moving for equal rights, moving for equality. Not just sitting around complaining about it, but showing up.”

That continues at present as the nation finds itself persevering with to wrestle with a racial reckoning.

Rashād mentioned her sorority was based with “the intent to uplift” and that mission persists.

“We will persist in delivering the good,” she mentioned.

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