History of the Southern Region
The Southern Region traces its origins to 1929 when Roberta F. Bell was elected as the National First Anti-Basileus. She served through 1934. At that time, the National First Anti-Basileus also performed the duties of national organizer. At the same Boule in 1929, Roberta was appointed to serve as the Southern Regional Director and given the assignment of organizing a region to be comprised of Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama. From 1929 to 1934 Roberta organized new chapters in every section of the region. From this beginning, the Southern Region began to grow rapidly, and this trend continues today.
In 1937, the Southern Region invited the Boule to Houston. The 1937 Boule was the first held south of the Mason-Dixon line, which was the historic dividing line between North and South. Forty-five voting delegates attended.
Between 1937 and 1943, the Southern Region grew into the largest region in the sorority. It still bears the name it was given during these years, "The Mighty Southern Region", because it was so strong and gave such excellent leadership to the national body. Many of the projects undertaken by the Southern Region were adopted by the national body, and the national body has grown with many of the ideas initiated in the Southern Region, such as the Blue Revue. The region grew so rapidly and became so large that eventually all states except Texas and Louisiana were reassigned to other regions. This was a logical move because the two states border each other, and there are enough colleges and communities in the two states to warrant a region. Despite their geographic separation, chapters in the region are linked together by a regional director with the assistance of state directors and regional elected and appointed officers.
The region is proud to have three very active Past Grand Basilei who have added and continue to add wisdom, guidance, and stability to the region. Lullelia Walker Harrison from Houston, Texas, is the 12th Grand Basileus, Isabel Morgan Herson from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is the 16th Grand Basileus and Dr. Barbara West Carpenter from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is the 21st Grand Basileus.
The achievements of the "Mighty Southern Region" are remarkable and in many cases have set a precedent in Zeta. Traditions and history initiated by the Southern Region include:
|* The first undergraduate chapter established south of the Mason-Dixon line was Theta Chapter at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, in 1923. Charter members were Juanita Bates, Lurlean Gales Brown, Jocelyn Henderson Watkins, Ruby Young Walls, Mary J. Cord, Margaret Hunter, and Lillian Carline.|
|* Lullelia W. Harrison was the first paid executive secretary of any Greek-letter organization. Lullelia was initiated into Theta Chapter at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, in 1929 at the age of 16 and has worked diligently for Zeta ever since. She served her chapter first and went on to serve her region from 1936 to 1943, at which time she became a dynamic grand basileus. Following this Herculean task, she became the first executive secretary.|
|* The first executive office of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. was located in Houston, Texas, at 1721 Worms Street.|
|* Zeta Amicae (Friends of Zeta) was the first national auxiliary of a collegiate sorority. In 1948 Houston Amicae was the first to be granted a charter by national.|
|* The first fully paid life members were Gertrude Jimson and Eola Lyons Baker of Alpha Gamma Zeta Chapter in New Orleans, Louisiana. Gertrude‛s fully paid life membership reached the Executive Office immediately following the 1948 Boule in Philadelphia, at which the new designation was approved. Shortly afterwards Eola‛s fee was received.|
|* Lambda Gamma Chapter of McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, was the first undergraduate chapter established on a predominantly white college campus in the South in 1969.|
|* The first Zeta Legacy Award, for the number of Zetas in a family, was given to Hazel Forrow Wilson for the Forrow family. It was given in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1976.|
The following are notable facts about the Southern Region:
|* Roberta F. Bell Sims from Shreveport, Louisiana, was the first regional director of the Southern Region in 1929, which she organized that same year. She was employed at Grambling College and spent much of her spare time establishing chapters of Zeta.|
|* The first graduate chapter to be chartered in the region was Gamma Zeta on April 3, 1925, in Shreveport, Louisiana, by Zetas in the teaching profession. Charter members were S. D. Brown, Arline Reynolds Epps, Minetta C. Carter, Ada M. V. White, Lucy V. Tiggue, Vessie E. Warren Martin, Annie Grace Thomas, Lillian K. Williams Forrest, and Ruth N. Thibodeaux.|
|* The oldest active graduate chapter in the region is Kappa Zeta in Dallas, Texas, established in 1931. Charter members were Fairilla White, Jean Benson, Viola Cole, Helen Wilson Johnson, and Lillian Boden.|
|* Blue Revue, a national scholarship observance, was first held by Kappa Zeta, in Dallas, Texas, in 1933 and presented at the 1933 Boule.|
|* The first honorary member from the Southern Region was Barbara Ann Webb (Spriggs), a concert singer from Houston, Texas. She received the honor in 1952.|
|* The Southern Region is the only region to hold a separate auxiliary leadership conference. The regional Amicae workshop is held the last weekend in June each year. The first such workshop was June 22, 1963, in Houston, Texas.|
|* The first Stork‛s Nest after the program was adopted by the national body was established by Lambda Zeta Chapter in Houston, Texas, in 1972.|
|* The first regional youth retreat was held at Bishop College in Dallas, Texas, in June 1979. The first Southern Region youth director was Hattie Marshall of Gamma Omega Zeta in Houston, Texas.|
|* The Southern Region was the first to hold a joint Sigma/ Zeta Leadership Conference (Gulf Coast Region/Sigma and Southern Region/Zeta), in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in 1987.|
|* The region initiated the Project SOS (Save Our Sons) in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1989. Delta Upsilon Zeta Chapter in Waco, Texas, was the next to have an organized SOS. Waco‛s group was renamed the Gents in 1997.|
|* In 1992 the Southern Region was the first region in Zeta to endorse the Pearlettes youth auxiliary. Alpha Gamma Zeta Chapter of New Orleans, Louisiana, was the first to organize a Pearlette youth auxiliary.|
|* Regional archival centers are located in Austin, Texas (Zeta Cultural Center, Alpha Kappa Zeta Chapter) and Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Sorority House, Mu Zeta Chapter). Both centers are housed in property owned by the local chapters.|
|* The Southern Region is the only region that functions without state meetings. Since there are only two states in the region, they meet together in June.|