On April 28, 1979, members of Alpha Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, a national public service sorority founded at Howard University in 1913, unveiled a sculpture in the Valley Mall at 3:15 p.m. to honor its founders.

Called "Fortitude," the steel-fabricated sculpture, created by James King, stands 12 feet and 6 inches in height and has an amazing 12 feet arm to arm span. The sculpture symbolizes the attributes of strength, courage, hope, wisdom, beauty and femininity as depicted by the 22 founders of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

The art expression is sculpted in corten steel. The metal grows in beauty with age and through the process of oxidization, the color changes from silver to a rustic red-orange to a dark rich bronze tone. The total process can take about two to three years.

The figure is shown pushing forward as the tension of her thighs portrays strength. Her outreached hand denotes receiving of love and the giving of oneself to others. Her facial features depict courage and determination. Her color tone represents the glorious gradations of pigmentations of the Black woman. The total form not only denotes fortitude but stands to inspire women, in particular Black women, to move forcefully to meet the challenges of life.

The sculptor James King is one of the nation's most gifted sculptors. He was born in Chicago and was educated at a number of elite universities around the world, including The Art Institute of Chicago, Goethe Institute and The University of Vienna.

Aeja O. Washington
The Hilltop, Tuesday, October 26, 2004