GDN Exclusive Part VIII: The Divine-Nine Evolution – An AKA Speaks Hands-On-Leadershipby Soror Sandra N. McCleary May 21, 2018
For decades Black Americans have pondered the question of where do we go from here? Why not ask a more direct question like, why haven’t we made the needed progress and where has our focus been as a people? Our communities have suffered from a variety of silent killers like: Apathy, racism, greed, ego, a lack of civic education and poor communication. We could even say that the number one silent killer is apathy. Apathy is the lack of enthusiasm that destroys the fiber of our communities.
Remedies are needed to keep us engaged and moving forward. Our symptoms are barely being treated but a cure is on the horizon. We might say that cures come from positive motivation toward negative issues that affect our well being as a people. Many of our issues can be addressed through active civic engagement based on the views of Yvonne Simmons Pettis.
Treat community apathy by getting involved
Mrs. Pettis is a retired educator and owner of Von Pettis Realty in Charlotte, NC. She has long-held views on ways to treat community apathy by getting involved in civic and political activities. She has a history of community involvement. As President of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Branch of the NAACP in 2004, she initiated the movement to get Sunday Voting in Mecklenburg County.
She also organized the first Community Political Forum sponsored by an African American Greek- Letter Organization Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated in Charlotte, NC in 2005. She is a Life Member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (AKA) and serves as the Mid-Atlantic Region NC State Coordinator. In this position she coordinates the political, civic, activities for the Sorority throughout the State of NC. Yvonne Pettis is a Life member of the Mecklenburg County Black Political Caucus.
She is a member of the FBI Citizen’s Academy, NC Chief Justice Committee on Professionalism, NC HBCU Leadership Roundtable, and volunteered for Democracy North Carolina as a GOTV (Get Out the Vote) literature distribution coordinator in Charlotte. She is a Life Member of North Carolina Central University Alumni Association, and a member of St. Paul Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC. She works tirelessly for the primary goal to educate, motivate, and mobilize the voter to vote. She’s also a Life Member of the NAACP.
Yvonne strongly believes that we should do everything we can to get people voting. Many citizens do not realize that there are basic freedoms we stand to lose, if we don’t VOTE.
We must motivate and participate
Her motto is “We must motivate and participate.” Promoting the importance of the vote results in the best candidate getting elected into office. She realizes that motivating the new millennium population is a must. This realization became helpful as she began to work with the North Carolina Divine Nine (Members of the African American Greek-letter, Fraternity and Sororities) leadership to coordinate the very First NC Divine Nine Legislative Day in 2016. Yvonne’s AKA Organizing Team members were Gina Pettis Dean, Yolanda Stitt, and Marcia Conner. This Team put together the logic and reasoning for why working, as one would be far superior to working separately. This vision became a reality when Antonio Knox, Carl Pickney, and Larry Hall spoke it into existence during the AKA Legislative Day, in 2015.
NC HBCU Leadership Round Table
From that point on, representatives from each of the Divine Nine organizations (sororities/fraternities) served on a Planning Committee for the years 2016-2017-2018 making history in North Carolina by having a combined NC Divine Nine Legislative Day. Ms. Andrea Harris, Organizer of the NC HBCU Leadership Round Table, played a significant role in assisting the Planning Committee with the research and the legislative programmatic thrusts. After three years of working together, the NC Divine Nine Legislative Day has made an important impact on civic engagement in North Carolina.
The combined strength of the North Carolina NC Divine Nine is well over 60,000 members alone. During the third Legislative Day on May 16, 2018, Omega Psi Fraternity, Incorporated who served as Legislative Day Host for 2017 and 2018 recognized Yvonne Simmons Pettis with a Distinguished Leadership Award for her dedication, resourcefulness, and service. They also recognized her daughter, Gina Pettis Dean for her leadership as Co-Chair for the past two years with the Omega Co-Chair, Dr. Voris McBurnett.
Divine Nine Legislative Day
Over 1,500 members filled the Tent on Halifax Mall for Divine Nine Legislative Day to be energized by our NC State Legislators, and Rev. Dr. Frederick Douglas Haynes, from Dallas, Texas and countless other presenters including the National NAACP Board Chairman, Mr. Leon Russell. NC Divine Nine Legislative Day also highlights the work of our Historically Black Colleges and Universities encouraging support monetarily, but more importantly in enrollment and sharing information on the value of our HBCU’s.
THE TIME IS NOW
The civic engagement initiative, “A Call to Colors,” is also designed to equip fraternities and sororities with strategies needed on -and -off college campuses that encourage and promote civic participation. Mrs. Pettis feels that the views of this initiative are on point and we must join forces to fight legislation that we agree on, especially voting laws. gun reforms, education, more HBCU support. Our method of dealing with these issues should be the primary focus of groups like NAACP, Masonic organizations, Social Organizations and other community organizations. We are all in this together. Every year, legislation has been changed based on the advocacy of the Divine Nine and its influence. One example was Senate Bill 873 was dropped in 2016. Together we can stamp out the silent killer of apathy. “THE TIME IS NOW ”
Subscribe and Share Civic Engagement Project Updates
Each week we will profile a major figure or organization related to civic engagement, Citizens United, gerrymandering, redistricting, election calendars, candidates, political parties, pressure groups and many more topics relevant to people interested in being more informed. All Civic Engagement Project newsletter editions will be permanently archived on our website. Subscribe to get weekly updates, headlines and event notifications.
- Leaders Endorse Civic Engagement Action Plan a ‘Call to Colors’ Part I
- Prince Hall Masons Support Civic Engagement Action Plan a ‘Call to Colors’ Part II
- Butterfield and NC NAACP Supports ‘Call to Colors’ To Achieve One Hundred Percent Civic Engagement at HBCUs – Part III
- N.C. Secretary of Veteran Affairs Larry Hall Supports a “Call to Colors” Part IV
- Rep. Adams, HBCU Collective Leader Supports “Call to Colors” for HBCU Civic Engagement – Part V
- Chair of HBCU Alumni Leadership Roundtable Endorses “Call to Colors” Part VI
- GDN Exclusive: President of College Democrats of North Carolina Supports “Call To Colors” Part VII