Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. has the distinction of being the first African-American sorority. It was founded on Jan. 15, 1908, by Howard University’s Ethel Hedgeman, who wanted to create a “support network for women with like minds.”

The organization was founded on these five basic tenets:

“To cultivate and encourage high scholastic and ethical standards, to promote unity and friendship among college women, to study and help alleviate problems concerning girls and women in order to improve their social stature, to maintain a progressive interest in college life, and to be of 'Service to All Mankind.’”

AKAs, known for their iconic colors of pink and green and signature “Skee-Wee” sound, have made everlasting names for themselves in the worlds of politics, literature, entertainment and sports.

Check out six members of Alpha Kappa Alpha in the gallery below.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee

Famous Alpha Kappa Alpha Member Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee

Lee, the U.S. Representative for Texas’s 18th Congressional District, has served since 1995. She earned her bachelor’s of arts in political science at Yale University and earned her juris doctor at University of Virginia Law School.

Lee, the U.S. Representative for Texas’s 18th Congressional District, has served since 1995. She earned her bachelor’s of arts in political science at Yale University and earned her juris doctor at University of Virginia Law School.

The 13-term congresswoman serves on the House’s Judiciary, Homeland Security and Budget committees, and she has been an advocate for women and children.

Sen. Kamala Harris

Harris has been making waves in the Democratic Party since she was sworn in as a California senator in 2017. She made history in 2011 by becoming the first woman to serve as the state's attorney general.

The junior senator serves on the committees for Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Budget, Intelligence and Judiciary, where she’s grabbed headlines with her tough questioning that highlight her years as a prosecutor.

Harris, it is heavily rumored, will be launching a presidential run in 2019 and has said the country is ready for a female president.

Phylicia Rashad

Famous Alpha Kappa Alpha Member Phylicia Rashad

The incomparable Rashad joined Alpha Kappa Alpha as a student at her beloved Howard University.

“Howard University affords not only a structure but a foundation as well, for the human being. As a student you would always feel your connection to the legacy of the institution,” she said in an interview discussing the school’s Charter Day in 2009. “You don’t feel a part of that legacy, but in truth you are. From the time you enter, you become a part of this living legacy that is Howard University.”

Rashad is known for her role in the classic sitcom The Cosby Show, in which she played Clair Huxtable, a wise, tough, loving mother and lawyer. In 2004, she made history by becoming the first African-American actress to win a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her role in A Raisin in the Sun.

Toni Morrison

Famous AKA Member Toni Morrison
MAY 12: Toni Morrison, a Nobel Prize-winning American author, editor, and professor during the autograph session in the L'arbre a Lettres bookstore on May, 12, 2009 in Paris, France- Shutterstock

Morrison, one of the most well knownauthors in American history, pledged AKA in 1950 at Howard.

The esteemed writer was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her 1988 book, Beloved, which Oprah Winfrey adapted into a movie in 1998. Morrison also won the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 1993, becoming the first African-American to do so, and she was described by the organization as someone “who gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.” In 2012, President Barack Obama recognized for her contributions to the American society and honored Morrison with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  

Dorothy Ferebee, M.D.

Famous Alpha Kappa Alpha Member Dorothy Ferebee, M.D.
Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine

Ferebee was a obstetrician who advocated for women’s health care and racial equality. She attended Tufts University College of Medicine in 1924 and went on to work at Howard University’s medical school.

The physician spoke openly about the sexism and racism she faced during her time in medical school, where she was one of five women in a 137-person class, telling Carolyn Lewis in Hard Work Can Topple the Barriers, “We women were always the last to get assignments in amphitheaters and clinics. And I? I was the last of the last because not only was I a woman, but a Negro, too.”

Althea Gibson

Famous AKA Member Althea Gibson
Source: El Gráfico

Gibson, a trailblazer in women’s tennis, made history by becoming the first Black person to earn a Grand Slam title, having won the French Open in 1956; she also won back-to-back singles titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 1957 and 1958.

In addition to her Grand Slam championships, Gibson broke down barriers for Black athletes by being named the first Black person to receive Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press.

Another tennis great, Serena Williams, said, “Althea Gibson paved the way for all women of color in [sports]” on Instagram in 2016.