The sea beautiful African-American women clad head-to-toe in red and white was a sight to behold when out and about in the city last week. Post Essence, you couldn’t help but notice the regality of it all. But the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.’s Biennial Convention, slated to take New Orleans by storm from last Thursday to Sunday, had to literally dodge the storm as Tropical Storm Barry threatened to close the city down for the weekend.
During a press conference confirming the early closure of the convention Friday, Michael Sawaya, Convention Center President said, “Safety of our visitors is our absolute number one priority. We have a well-tested Emergency Operation Plan and were well prepared to support any decision Delta Sigma Theta made. We will now turn our attention to making certain the activities planned for today are concluded as planned, and our visitors can make plans to remain safe in New Orleans, or return home.”
The 54th Annual National Convention of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority had convened approximately 15,000 members on Thursday, and had activities planned through Sunday. The Convention Center staff had been in regular consultation with the organizers of the Convention throughout the development of the storm and a decision to close the convention came early Friday when the reality of Barry’s potential damage to the city was deemed inevitable. But the sorority did not leave the city without making an impact. The Deltas donated over 17,000 meals (which were planned to be served at their convention) to various organizations throughout the New Orleans area, including Second Harvest Food Bank which dispatched a refrigerated truck to quickly retrieve food. The meals had been prepared by one of the Convention Center’s caterers, Centerplate.
Second Harvest spokesperson Jay Vise told nola.com that donations such as the ones made from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. are “crucial” at times during disasters like the imposing Barry and that the meals were especially welcome going into the weather event. The meals reportedly consisted of 17,000 portions of chicken breast, potatoes au gratin, Mac and cheese, flourless chocolate cake and various other items.
National President & CEO of Delta Sigma Theta Beverly E. Smith issued the following statement via social media: “We are delighted Centerplate donated the food we purchased, making it available as a result of us terminating our convention early. With 16,000 attendees and two food functions canceled – our sisterhood luncheon and closing Soirée Celebration – there were inordinate amounts of food that would have been wasted. Kudos to Centerplate!”
Smith continued, “While Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc had to end the remainder of our convention-related activities earlier than scheduled, our work and commitment to public service around the world since our founding in 1913, will go on.”
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority was founded in 1913 at Howard University, a historically black university in Washington D.C.