Posted on February 09 2022
In celebration of Black History Month, Ally shoes will be highlighting 4 women who represent each of the four Historically Black American sororities. Our brand focuses on promoting go-getters that make an impact on their community and the world, while supporting each other.
Fueled by her extensive International travel experiences and a desire to make a lasting impact Karmia Berry founded and serves as the Executive Director of I AM C.U.L.T.U.R.E.D., Incorporated, a not for profit with a mission of creating opportunities to enhance the learning experiences for marginalized youth of color at little-to-no cost to them, exposing them to world travel and encouraging them to create cultural experiences of their own. A New York native and proud graduate of Hampton and Hofstra University, Karmia has over 25 years of clinical experience working with the youth population. From psychiatric to rehabilitation, school, the juvenile justice system and the developmental disabled population, her roles in leadership and on the ground in the trenches have always been in support of the healthy development and success of marginalized youth of color.
When not working with the youth, you will find Karmia with a script in hand. As an actress, Karmia has trained professionally at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts and Stella Adler Studio. With childhood appearances on Sesame Street and national commercials, media outlets such as Amazon.com, HBO, Martha's Vineyard African American Film Festival, the Montreal International Black Film Festival, BET Her, and many more have showcased her talents throughout the years. Above all, Karmia is a woman of God whose faith drives her passions and perspectives of life.
What inspired you to become a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Incorporated?
My inspiration to be a woman of Alpha Kappa Alpha was driven by the women in my life who I watched, learned from and admired. I am the first woman and currently the only one in my family to be in a sorority so the influence was from my co-pastor, now pastor of my church, Rev. Dr. Elaine M Flake. My godsister, Michele Jawando. My high school guidance counselor, Ms. Matthews and my big sister Dawn Hankin. Each of these women are powerhouses in their own world and played an intricate role in my upbringing. This is what led me to Alpha Kappa Alpha. I was initiated into the Gamma Theta Chapter Spring 2004 and have remained financially active since then. At 23 years old through the Delta Rho Omega Chapter in Brooklyn, New York. I developed and chaired the Historically Black College & University tour program, which to date has impacted more than 1,000 students from all New York City boroughs.
How has your organization contributed to Black American History?
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated is the first Black Greek-Letter Sorority founded by Black women on the campus of Howard University (HBCU) on January 15, 1908. Five years later in 1913, Alpha Kappa Alpha was incorporated in the District of Colombia Since then, just to name a few (aka19098.com):
1920s - Pushed anti-lynching legislation
1930s—Became first organization to take out NAACP life membership (1939); Created nation’s first Congressional lobby that impacted legislation on issues ranging from decent living conditions and jobs to lynching (1938); and established the nation’s first mobile health clinic, providing relief to 15,000 Negroes plagued by famine and disease in the Mississippi Delta (1935).
1940s—Invited other Greek-letter organizations to come together to establish the American Council on Human Rights to empower racial uplift and economic development (1948); Acquired observer status from the United Nations (1946); and challenged the absence of people of color from pictorial images used by the government to portray Americans (1944).
1950s—Promoted investing in Black businesses by depositing initial $38,000 for AKA Investment Fund with the first and only Negro firm on Wall Street (1958). Spurred Sickle Cell Disease research and education with grants to Howard Hospital and publication of The Sickle Cell Story (1958).
1970’s— Was only sorority to be named an inaugural member of Operation Big Vote (1979); completed pledge of one-half million to the United Negro College Fund (1976); and purchased Dr. Martin Luther King’s boyhood home for the MLK Center for Social Change (1972).
1980s—Adopted more than 27 African villages, earning Africare’s 1986 Distinguished Service Award; encouraged awareness of and participation in the nation’s affairs, registering more than 350, 000 new voters; and established the Alpha Kappa Alpha Educational Advancement Foundation (1981), a multi-million dollar entity that annually awards more than $100,000 in scholarships, grants, and fellowships.
1990s—Built 10 schools in South Africa (1998); added the largest number of minorities to the National Bone Marrow Registry (1996); Became first civilian organization to create memorial to World War II unsung hero Dorie Miller (1991).
2000s—Donated $1 million to Howard University to fund scholarships and preserve Black culture (2008); strengthened the reading skills of 16,000 children through a $1.5 million after school demonstration project in low-performing, economically deprived, under-resourced schools (2002); and improved the quality of life for people of African descent through continuation of aid to African countries. (2010)The ASCEND℠ Program designed to motivate, engage and assist high school students in reaching their maximum potential through academic enrichment and life skills training. Launched AKA 1908 Playground Project℠ to ensure safe play areas for children through the restoration and renewal of 1,908 existing community and school playgrounds; and coordinated a national campaign, Think HBCU℠, to highlight HBCUs (2018); Launched Emerging Young Leaders, a bold move to prepare 10,000 girls in grades 6-8 to excel as young leaders equipped to respond to the challenges of the 21st century (2010)
How do you hope to make history?
I am seeing my work paid forward through the lives of the young people I have had the honor to meet on their life journey. I have received responses from viewers after connecting to a role I've played. Like Jon Lewis, I am here to make "Good Trouble" my goal is not to make history, I just want to simply be a contributor to a better world and I am willing to go against the grain to do so. Willing to speak out and shine a light in between the gaps and the social inequality we face as a person of color and as a woman. If it is through my art or my philanthropy work, "Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History" so let's see what the future holds. I'm here to put on for my ancestors, my sorority founders, the greats living and those long gone that led the way before me.