Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Scene: Oldest black sorority to meet and Greek Barbie


The women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority really know how to get dolled up -- and focus on business.

They'll show that this week when they hit Washington, D.C., about 35,000 strong, for their biennial convention and get a look at one of their newest members: Barbie.

Mattel Inc. created the limited-edition AKA Centennial Barbie, the first Barbie based on any sorority.

The doll, outfitted in a pink and green evening gown, matching jeweled shoes and gold jewelry, honors the Chicago-headquartered sorority, the first established by black women.

The sorority has inducted about 200,000 members -- including actress Phylicia Rashad, educator Marva Collins and author Toni Morrison -- since its founding at Howard University in 1908.

The AKA Barbie has some company. Another business, the Sisterhood Boutique, last year modeled a collectible doll on the sorority. That creation, the $125 Ivy Rose (, made its way into official gift bags for celebrity presenters at the Grammy Awards in February.

The Mattel doll will sell for $50 through the Barbie Collector catalog, the Barbie Web site and retailers. The sorority gets a percentage of the sales.

Mattel isn't the only company eager to work with AKA. Among the sorority's other recent corporate deals:

• Converse has designed shoes for Alpha Kappa Alpha and five other black Greek-letter organizations and will sponsor a march at the AKA convention.

• Chase last year gave AKA more than $100,000 to support an African-American home ownership initiative.

• DNA tracing firm African Ancestry Inc. has partnered with the group.

The sorority expects its members to drop more than $100 million in Washington during the weeklong convention, which kicks off Friday.

Photo Credit: Chicago Sun-Times

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