By Anika Jain
Despite the challenges of an ongoing pandemic, members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Xi Beta Chapter have been organizing multiple fundraising events for the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement this summer.
With an initial goal of $50,000, the Xi Beta Chapter founded the Justice For Black Lives Fundraiser to donate to grassroots organizations and legal funds, including the Bail Project, the Anti-Police Terror Project, the Marsha P. Johnson Institute and multiple other nationwide bail funds.
The fundraiser began in collaboration with KITA, an apparel company founded by Clara Spars ’21, after a “Silence is Violence” sticker campaign. The Xi Beta Chapter then raised money through collecting direct donations, corporate matching, a “Silence is Violence” T-shirt campaign and a benefit concert. The first Black sorority at Stanford, the Xi Beta Chapter surpassed their initial goal after June 10 and amassed $220,167 for their Justice for Black Lives Fundraiser in one summer.
“We were particularly moved to start a long-term project because Black Liberation is a long-term movement,” wrote Membership Chairman Mea Anderson ’21 in a statement to The Daily. “There were countless bail funds popping up across the county and thousands of grassroots organizations that needed financial support to sustain their advocacy. As a result, we recognized that a short-term campaign would not have the impact these organizations needed.”
Founded in 1981 by UCSF professor and radiologist Nola Hylton, the Xi Beta Chapter “has continually strived to cultivate bonds of sisterhood, provide service to the Stanford community and fulfill the mission of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated,” according to the chapter.
“The Xi Beta Chapter has always been inspired by the innovation and resiliency of our founders,” Anderson wrote. “While in a racially segregated and man-dominated space, our founders were still able to create a network for marginalized women to find support, community, and an avenue to provide service to all mankind.”
Although the Xi Beta Chapter has focused on community service since its founding, the Justice For Black Lives Fundraiser has been their first major philanthropic initiative in recent years. With the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, the chapter has been working to spotlight Black artists and increase the momentum of civil rights activism at Stanford.
“We hope that individuals and organizations alike are empowered to act,” wrote Xi Beta Chapter President Celine Foster ’21. “Everyone can have a role in the effort for liberation. We hope that future Xi Beta members are able to see that even in the midst of a pandemic, even in a virtual world, there is work to be done to help others. Where there’s a will to help, there’s a way to do so.”
Foster and the chapter organized many events this summer, including a Justice For Black Lives Benefit Concert on July 11. The proceeds from both the benefit concert and “Silence is Violence” T-shirt campaign were donated to support Black transgender rights through the Masha P. Johnson Institute. The remote concert raised over $2,000, with 400 people in attendance.
“This experience reaffirmed for us that anything is possible,” wrote Foster. “We absolutely hope to organize more events like this in the future!”
The Xi Beta Chapter has kept that promise with their upcoming event “MOMENTUM,” organized in collaboration with the Black Student Union, the Junior Class Cabinet and the Stanford Concert Network.
“This event aims to tackle the collective care piece of the Black Liberation movement: how do we keep going, and how do we take better care of ourselves and others?” Foster wrote.
She shared that “MOMENTUM” would feature four speakers: Professor Clayborne Carson, Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute; Bree Newsome Bass, an activist for social justice and filmmaker; Yamiche Alcindor, a White House Correspondent for PBS NewsHour; and Roxane Gay, a best-selling author and speaker. Four student performers would also be featured: Ace, Alexa Luckey ’21, DJ Sugar Trap and Tamilore Awosile ’23.
“We hope ‘MOMENTUM’ serves as an empowering and healing experience, as it aims to uphold themes of Black Liberation through the lenses of activism, art, and collective care,” Foster wrote.
“MOMENTUM” is not the only partnered event that the Xi Beta Chapter plans on holding this fall.
“We enjoyed working with our collaborators on Justice For Black Lives and are excited to develop similar working relationships with other student organizations across campus during the 2020-2021 school year,” added Anderson. Although Anderson declined to name which student organizations they plan to partner with in the future, they confirmed the Xi Beta Chapter plans to continue their activism projects throughout the school year.
“In our programming, we strive to center the needs of the most marginalized communities and are always open to collaborations with organizations who have that same mission,” Anderson continued.
“We have used this summer to learn how to navigate virtual programming, and hope to take this learning experience and apply it to the upcoming year,” wrote Foster. She also shared that the Xi Beta Chapter intends to take advantage of platforms such as Club Cardinal to strengthen their impact and connect with other organizations committed to community service.
In addition to working with student organizations, the Xi Beta Chapter collaborated with Xi Beta alumnae such as Reagan Dunham ’20, who was instrumental in planning the Justice For Black Lives Fundraiser. Other Xi Beta alumnae shared bingo boards, encouraged and made donations and shared words of support with Foster, Anderson and the rest of the Xi Beta Chapter. Some of their partner organizations reached out to their alumni network to expand the reach of the fundraiser.
Throughout Xi Beta’s 39-year legacy, Foster affirmed that the current chapter remains faithful to the original goals their founders shared during the sorority’s initial conception.
“Our conception of sorority has stayed the same,” Foster wrote. “We, as a chapter, continue Xi Beta’s legacy of striving for excellence through service, fellowship, and scholarship. Our responsibility is to provide sustainable support to our community to the best of our ability, despite the circumstance.”
This article has been updated to include Xi Beta Chapters’s exact fundraising total and mission statement.
Contact Anika Jain at anikajain ‘at’ sfhs.com