Alabama Sigma Delta Tau, a historically Jewish sorority in Alabama has elected its first Black president, Hannah Patterson, according to WSFA 12.
Sigma Delta Tau placed Patterson in the position last week, only a year after she joined the sorority. Patterson, who bonded with the other women and is one of only three Black members, denied race was a factor in her election.
“I just did it because I wanted to help my sorority. The girls voted for me because they saw my leadership skills and everything. I guess that was kind of a coincidence. But I didn’t think they looked at my race,” she said.
Speaking with the Huffington Post, Patterson added, “I never saw color or race or ethnicity. It’s never been in the front of my mind. I tried to never let it hinder anything I did or judge people on that. I guess I never really thought about, Oh, I’m the first African American that has been president. I’m just excited for my term and to see where my chapter has gone and where it is going to go.”
Patterson’s sorority sisters said her active work in the group, not her background, factored in to her winning.
“We know that Hannah is going to be the best for the future of our chapter at this time,” Sigma member Erinn Forbes said. ”That has nothing to do with her ethnicity, but it is definitely a really cool thing. I think our chapter is happy to be a part of the change that’s going to be happening here.”
“She was just the best for us. She is so pro-active in our sorority,” member Kristen Feyt added. The organization also reiterated it is inclusive of members from all races.
“We’re welcoming of any girl that wants to join our chapter and best fits our chapter,” former president Regina Broda told The Crimson White, the school’s paper,
“We were founded by seven Jewish women because, they, in 1917, couldn’t find a home. They were discriminated against. They weren’t allowed in to sororities. Sigma Delta Tau nationally does not discriminate because it goes completely against our founding principles.”
Though the school has taken steps to make sorority recruitment more inclusive, after the Crimson White wrote an expose on the issue, some say racism is still endemic on campus.
“I’m slightly concerned that now it looks potentially to the national media like the problem is solved and the University of Alabama’s not racist after all — that’s not the case,” said Henry Perkins, a member of Mallet Assembly, an intellectual living society on campus, in a recent documentary.