Living Her Life Like It’s Golden: Celebrating 50 Years of Service as an AKA

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By: Carlyn A. James

Many know her as the Grammar Guru, an English Professor, the Director of the UWF Writing Lab at the University of West Florida, creator of the UWF Grammar Hotline, author, and speaker. Some know her as one who will be sure to dance nonstop on the ballroom floor at a social event. However, she is also one who is a sister to many.

On the 21st day of October in 1966, Mamie Webb Hixon was initiated into Chi Chapter, an undergraduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, at an HBCU (Historically Black College/University) – Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama. Since then, she has served as president of the local graduate chapter (Delta Iota Omega Chapter) for two years from 1984 to 1985, and she served several years (1986 to 1991) as the graduate advisor for the Beta Gamma undergraduate chapter at the University of West Florida. She also wrote the chapter’s history book titled “A Brief History of Delta Iota Omega Chapter Through the Years.” Hixon was recently honored along with 700 other AKAs from throughout the United States, as a Golden sorority member, one with 50 years of service to the sorority, at the organization’s international conference in Atlanta, GA, in July 2016. Today, she is still a proud and very active member of the Delta Iota Omega Chapter, the graduate chapter in Pensacola, FL, celebrating 48 of her 50 years of service as a member of the local chapter. Hixon is full of gratitude to her sorority, an organization of college-trained women who are filled with love and encouragement for her as well as trust in her professional skills.

To show her appreciation to her sorority members who attend her annual Girlfriends’ Gathering to celebrate womanhood and sisterhood during Women’s History Month in March each year, Mamie invited these sorors to celebrate her Golden AKA Anniversary with her by bonding with one another through sharing AKA memories over dinner at Asbury Place in Pensacola, Florida, with sixty AKAs on the eve of her Friday, October 21, 1966, initiation. The Soror Soiree, as Mamie decided to call it, was held Thursday. October 20, 2016. It was a personal gathering to remember, she said. “Soirée,” Hixon said, “seemed to be the perfect title for the gathering since a soirée is defined as ‘an evening party or gathering, typically in a private house, for conversation or music.’”

Hixon stated that it is her good fortune to be connected to many of her sorority sisters as not only sorors but also friends. She says that she was nurtured by the best – four of the seven Delta Iota Omega Chapter’s charter members who were known as the movers and shakers and doers of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority: Lillie James Frazier, Elsie Johnson Jones, Annie Belle Williams, and the local chapter’s first Diamond Soror (75 years of service) Alyce Williams Henderson. Hixon’s other AKA mentors and role models from the local chapter, all of whom were or are Golden AKAs, include Ruby Jackson Gainer, Dr. Sarah Wynder Haynes, Yvonne Lucky Kyle, Celestine Frazier Dixon, Rose Hicks, Barbara Herbert Simmons, Ida Coleman, and Geraldine Scott. “My aunt, Thelma McWilliams Glass, a Montgomery, Alabama civil rights activist and icon, was also one of my AKA heroes,” Hixon said.

Through the years, Hixon has also sponsored for membership in the sorority a number of members of the local graduate chapter, including but not limited to Janice Lee, Mary Baker Farrow, Delois Jones, Shawndra Jones, Shirley Henderson, Tara Moultrie Alexander, and Carlyn James. Hixon has also maintained close “family ties” with the UWF AKAs who were under her supervision and tutelage between 1986 and 1991 when she was their graduate advisor; she lovingly refers to them as her AKA daughters: among them are Lesley Williams Sasser (Ft. Walton Beach, FL), Andretta White Jenkins (Tampa, FL), Michelle Lee, Carol Gilmore Lomax, Pamela Robinson Johnson, Nealofier Lewis-Rhodes, Allison Smith Roberts, Dr. Peggy Odom-Reed (Ithaca, NY), and Ivy McDonald Leatherman (East St. Louis, IL). Five of these ladies celebrated UWF’s homecoming and Mamie’s Golden AKA celebration with Mamie this past weekend. All of these women are active and proud members of a wonderful sisterhood of service through Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, the premier sorority for African-American women founded in 1908.

Mamie is proud to have something special in common with the local AKA chapter – turning 70. Mamie turned 70 in March; her local AKA chapter (Delta Iota Omega) will turn 70 on November 23. This chapter was the premier sorority for black women chartered in Pensacola, Florida.

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