In 1981, under the dynamic and innovative leadership of Soror Ione H. Gibson, Sorors Florida Mitchell, Mary Grant, Louise Beamon, Brenda Reed and Constance Russell convened together to explore the possibilities of organizing a new chapter in the Metropolitan Detroit area.
As a result, Kappa Rho Zeta Chapter was chartered on Feb. 18, 1981 at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, followed by a public ceremony on March 29, 1981 at the Wayne State University Alumni House.
The charter members are: Sorors Mary Louise Beamon, Patricia Byers, Doris J. Cook, Mertas Cunningham, Dorothy Dash, Dr. Ruby Delaney, Estrellita Gibson, Ione H. Gibson, Phyllis Gibson, Mary Grant, Ollie Hill, Mattie Hotchkiss, Pauline Jackson, Karen Ledford, Rev. Naomi Meadows, Florida Mitchell, Johnetta Morrow, Brenda Reed, Rosetta Riley, Constance Russell, Betty Stines, Ruby Walters, Michele G. Whitted and Lillie Wilson.
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, Kappa Rho Zeta Chapter has been a continuous contributor to the Metropolitan Detroit community since 1981. We currently impact the community-at-large via our Sorority’s international initiative of Helping Other People Excel (Z-HOPE).
Some service projects have included: the Agape House (Hartford Memorial Baptist Church); Focus Hope; Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation, Coalition of Temporary Shelter (COTS) Adopt-A-Family; Highland Park Lion’s Club; Park Geriatric Village; Detroit Goodfellows; the Boys & Girls Club of Highland Park; the American Cancer Society; American Heart Association; Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries in Highland Park; and George Washington Carver in Highland Park.
Kappa Rho Zeta was a recipient of the Tom Joyner Foundation Christmas Wish to support the McGregor Library in Highland Park, with African-American books and videos in 1999. In addition, the Ford Motor Company donated computers to the library to support our efforts. Our chapter was been honored by the Children’s Center with the Heart & Soul Award in 2012.
There were many firsts for Kappa Rho Zeta Chapter. The chapter held a breast cancer awareness workshop for women representative of Detroit Black Deaf Advocates in 2004. American Sign Language interpreting was provided by chapter members Trudy Hale and Regina McMullen.
Since that time, the chapter has opened two Stork’s Nests in the community to provide workshops and assistance for mothers and fathers. We took on the Sorority’s Health Justice Initiative by partnering with the Coalition of Labor Union Women to host a town hall meeting on healthcare reform.
Kappa Rho Zeta Chapter organized the Dove Foundation of Michigan, Inc. in 2007 to receive and distribute funds as our philanthropic arm. The foundation awards college scholarships and book awards to Metro Detroit students and supports KPZ’s Stork’s Nest, which was established under the auspices of the March of Dimes.
To commemorate Founders’ Day as well as our chartering date, on Feb. 6, 1982, Kappa Rho Zeta held our first signature event “Founders’ Feast Fantasia.” The speaker for the evening festivities was then International President Edith Francis on the theme: “Zetas Working Together: Rendering Service to Improve the Human Condition.” In the following years, persons from the community were honored for their relentless service to the community.
Some of the “Human Touch” recipients have been: Former Michigan Sen. Jackie Vaughn; Rev. Charles Adams of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, who was cited by Ebony magazine (1993-1994) as one of the 15 greatest Black preachers; Former Lion’s football player and auto dealership owner Mel Farr; Bro. Winston O’Neal of Xi Beta Sigma Chapter; and Pulitzer Prize winner Bro. Angelo B. Henderson of Xi Beta Sigma Chapter.
On Nov. 21, 1993, 13 women were inducted into the Highland Park Amicae Auxiliary. Since its inception, this chapter has received numerous awards and accolades. They have been recognized by the State of Michigan for their support of the AIDS Foundation of Michigan and the Coalition of Labor Union Women.
Almost every year since their inception, the dynamic women of the Highland Park Amicae Auxiliary have served Zeta Amicae in leadership positions on the state and regional levels. They have also received several awards on the regional level for their chapter report and scrapbook.
Today, the Highland Park Amicae Auxiliary is blessed with 15 members who are advised by Lila Butler and Tanya Horn. The Amicae regularly assist Kappa Rho Zeta Chapter with their programs. The Amicae’s support includes regular participation in the Stork’s Nest, service in the community as well as attendance at chapter functions.
Kappa Rho Zeta Chapter values all youth and supports the health, safety and well-being of its youth affiliate organizations through communitywide education and involvement. The Archonettes of Kappa Rho Zeta Chapter were organized under the sponsorship of Mattie Mitchell in the 1980s.
The Amicettes of Kappa Rho Zeta Chapter were organized under sponsors Sharon Stewart and Michele Whitted in 1998. The Pearlettes of Kappa Rho Zeta were organized under sponsor Jennifer Lewis in 2009. The current youth advisors continue the mission of our youth affiliates by providing a designed program of activities that will enhance the young girls and ladies through community, academic and personal development.
State and Regional Conferences
Kappa Rho Zeta hosted the Michigan State Organization State Leadership Conference in 2001 and 2011. Years earlier, we hosted the 52nd Regional Conference, April 24-27, 1986 in Southfield, Mich.
Soror Ione Gibson served as the Regional Marshal and led the chapter hosting a very successful event under the leadership of Soror Lizzie G. Miller, Past Great Lakes Regional Director.
The theme of the conference was “A Continuing Challenge: Total Commitment to Improve the Human Condition.” The highlight of the week was the host chapter’s reception for International President Edith Francis (pictured below, center) and Mrs. Naomi Tutu-Seavers, the daughter of Bishop Desmond Tutu.
Miss Blue Revue
The first Miss Blue Revue occurred on the evening of Nov. 6, 2004, chaired by Soror Sharon Stewart. Six young ladies participated in several Saturday classes on etiquette, table setting, grooming, poise, self-esteem and speech.
Our commitment to Zeta Phi Beta is noted by life members Brenda Reed (Diamond Life Member), Michele Whitted, Trudy Hale and Gwendolyn Myers.
Our legacy members are: Yvette Bass, DeLoris Baul, Adrianne Bryant, Arrice Bryant, Jacquis Coleman, Phyllis Gibson, Rozalyn Gray, Trudy Hale, Andrea Hubbard, Tanaya Hutson, Alinda Miller, Aminah Mohammad, Brenda R. Reed, Kim Reed, Ja’Nell Smith, Kimberly Snell, Janice Stewart Spraggins, Marissa Spraggins and Michele Whitted.
We are committed to the principle of Scholarship. We have provided numerous scholarships by encouraging the scholastic aspirations of our future leaders.
We are committed to the principle of Sisterhood. We build relationships by having couple and group Sista dates as well as focusing on growing our chapter.
Zeta Leaders and Trailblazers
Our chapter members have held elected and appointed positions on the state, regional and national levels. We are honored to have Brenda R. Reed, who has served the Sorority as a National Phylacter, Regional Phylacter, and past Wisconsin/Minnesota State Director. Phyllis Gibson’s musical talents were recognized on the national level as she rendered a song at the funeral of Founder Arizona Cleaver Stemons in 1980. Soror Mary Grant has served as a local President of the Detroit Black Storytellers, part of the national organization initiated and supported by members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
Three of our charter members, Brenda R. Reed, Phyllis Gibson and Mary Grant, are Zeta Doves. The Zeta Doves’ continued participation provides chapter members with their wisdom, talents and support.
Note: This is part of the Michigan State Organization’s online series "The MSO Great History Countdown! Our Centennial Journey to State Meeting" to leave a lasting gift to the state in honor of Zeta’s 100th anniversary. Histories from every graduate and undergraduate chapter in Michigan is being published in the month of September 2020 in the days leading up to the centennial state meeting. The project was approved under State Director Lynese Thomas’ administration, and overseen by MSO Epistoleus Earlene McMichael in partnership with MSO Historian Trudy Hale and Great Lakes Region Historian Norma Dartis.