Fantasia Barrino-Taylor is the newest honorary member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. The 100-year-old service organization announced on Tuesday that the singer-star had been inducted into the sisterhood, reposting an Instagram video where Barrio-Taylor shared she had been welcomed into the sorority during their centennial celebration in Indiana.
“I had to be quiet, it was hard but I am now a part of the best sisterhood there is and I just want to thank them, I want to thank y’all and yeah I love y’all,” she shared.
It’s just one of the major milestones the sorority has enjoyed during its centennial celebration. Rasheeda S. Liberty is the 100-year-old service organization's 25th international president. With nearly 30 years as a member of the organization, Liberty has worked tirelessly since her installation at the sorority's 58th Biennial Boule in 2020 to uphold the legacy of the organization's seven founders, as well as Sigma Gamma Rho's mission to build a community of professional women, "poised and purposed," who are armed with the tools to serve both women and youth to enable their communities.
EBONY spoke exclusively with President Liberty about the significance of this very special milestone and her current agenda for the organization.
EBONY: Congratulations on your central celebration! What are some of the sorority's biggest accomplishments over the past 100 years?
Sigma Gamma Rho International President Rasheeda S. Liberty: We are an organization with accolades described as "first" and "only." In the last 100 years, we have been able to leverage our education mantra through our Operation Big Book Bag initiative and our Annual Youth Symposium. Over the years, we have measured impact in areas of scholarship, social action, health and wellness, career advancement, and youth development. We live by the motto of “Greater Service, Greater Progress.” In this century of service, we have progressed our communities by being the first and only in corporate leadership, medical innovation, athletic accomplishments and award-winning entertainers.
You’ve had some incredible 100th-anniversary celebrations leading up to this weekend’s momentous milestone.
We called all of our sisters, affiliates, staff and partners home to Indianapolis in July 2022. That celebration yielded broad-scale marketing through the city, hotels and airport; $3 million in philanthropy and top-notch entertainment and celebratory events. The kick-off to our event was the monument committed on the campus of Butler University and the honorary degrees bestowed upon our seven Founders. The November activities will be full-scale and global. Although a large contingency celebrated in Indianapolis, we had special ceremonies in Dubai, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Houston and Chicago just to name a few. Amongst all the fun, we rededicated ourselves to the core values and mission of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority. The call was clear, and that was to build for the next century.
What are the past and current social and community platforms under your leadership that you are most proud of?
My administration theme of "Leading with Vision, Driven by Purpose" was crafted in 2020. The goal was not to forget our past but leverage it for the future vision. I am excited that we were able to still deliver exceptional impact to our communities despite the pandemic through our five essential programs: Operation Big Bag, Project Cradle Care, Swim 1922, Women’s Wellness and our Youth Symposium. We positioned ourselves as an organization where one could also grow while they sow, resulting in record growth. We became the Ambassador of the Year for St Jude Children’s Hospital with a $1M commitment to medical research and education. Fulfilling our scholarship purpose, we gifted $250k to students throughout the US. Whether it was serving communities, growing our volunteer community or partnering strategically with corporations and those with similar causes, we truly defined greater.
How has Sigma Gamma Rho evolved over the past 100 years?
Sigma Gamma Rho has evolved from being an organization of seven innovative educators to an organization of 100,000 professional women from all walks of life. The organization has expanded from one chapter to over 500. The impact footprint has shifted from Indianapolis to the United Arab Emirates, Germany, Belize, Bahamas, Bermuda and Ghana, to name just a few of our global hubs. The thoughts of seven now define the vision of many.
How would you like to see Sigma Gamma Rho evolve in the future?
We have to redefine sorority. It is no longer the place solely focused on campus life, paraphernalia and stepping. Our focus areas are not shifting, but how we touch our communities is. We will need to be more inclusive of our global communities as our younger generations live and engage abroad more. We will need to think about the future of tech and how we connect students to learning opportunities at a much younger age. We will need to use technology to deliver affirmations, micro-learnings and mental wellness resources. The platforms and mechanisms that once worked 100, 50 and even 25 years ago won’t allow us to be greater in the future. We are now defining ourselves in Sigma Gamma Rho as a professional organization of greater women building a greater world.
What advice would you give to all sorority members about service and sisterhood?
Stay active. Active is defined by your service impact and your financial commitment. In addition, there is always a way for you to share your talent and resources or network with your organization. Find the best intersection to ensure your long-term connection.