Inside Nancy Pelosi’s Sisterhood With Delta Sigma Theta

Members of the African-American sorority say the House minority leader’s motto, “When women succeed, America succeeds,” is nothing new to their organization.


She’s the most powerful woman in Congress, and they call themselves the “largest black female organization in the universe.” They agree on progressive issues from voting rights to fair wage legislation and on the national implications of what are often dismissed as women’s concerns. It’s no surprise that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. hit it off. 

On Tuesday, DST National President Paulette Walker, along with members of the sorority’s executive committee and representatives of California chapters, met with Pelosi in her Washington, D.C., office. The event was among the last of the group’s annual Delta Days in the Nation’s Capital, a legislative conference designed to increase members’ involvement in national politics. 

Pelosi used the meeting primarily to tout the House Democrats’ economic agenda for women and families, a set of policy priorities that includes increase in minimum wage, equal pay for women, affordable child care and paid leave, asking her guests to be part of the “drumbeat” of public support for it. It didn’t take much convincing. After all, Walker told The Root, the beliefs behind the agenda’s motto, “When women succeeds, America succeeds,” are nothing new to the members of the 101-year-old, service-based organization.

“Unless we address issues related to education and the women’s economic agenda, we’ll be perpetuating a disparity,” Pelosi told the 23 members of Delta Sigma Theta gathered in her Capitol office. She reminded the group that “When women succeed, America succeeds” was the biggest applause line of the night at President Obama’s recent State of Union address. (It got another round from the women sitting around the conference table.)

“We’re so proud of the Deltas in the Congress,” Pelosi said, adding, “I was told not to wear red today because I’m not a Delta.”

She may not have worn the group’s signature color, but a light moment came when Pelosi addressed Walker as “Soror Walker,” embracing an honorific that’s typically used only among members. If rules were violated, the minority leader got a pass—and more applause.