AKA ball to carry on member’s legacy

Published 9:33 pm Monday, December 3, 2018

For nearly two decades, Nancy Denham fussed over the details of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Scholarship Ball to make sure it was an affair to remember.

After Denham’s passing in March, the local chapter — Phi Mu Omega — voted to name the 20th annual fundraiser in memory of the great matriarch.

Tickets for the Nancy Denham Scholarship Ball are $50 and dress is black tie. The ball is Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Brookhaven Building, 1154 Beltline Drive. The event is open to the public. For tickets or sponsorship opportunities, call Phi Mu treasurer Janee’ Harrison at 601-833-7472.

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The ball, which rotates between Brookhaven and McComb, includes hors d’ovres, a catered meal, live music, dancing and door prizes.

Harrison said the ball is a social highlight of the season.

“Ladies can put on their best dresses, and guys can put on their nice suits and come on and have a good time,” she said.

The money raised through the ball helps with college expenses each year for several area students.

“It’s our signature event and through the scholarship ball primarily and other fundraising efforts we’ve been able to provide over $60,000 in scholarships to area students, so we’re very excited about that,” Harrison said.

Denham, who died at the age of 81, was a Chicago native who moved to Brookhaven at an early age. She graduated high school at Alexander High School and then Alcorn State University. She continued her education at Loyola University, Mississippi State University and Tuskegee Institute and earned a master’s degree in education from Mississippi College.

She was an active member AKA and a charter member of Phi Mu Omega. For 35 years, she was an educator in the public schools, teaching in Natchez, Port Gibson and Vicksburg school districts. She retired from the Hazlehurst Public School District after 30 years of service. After retirement, she continued teaching at Job Corps and Copiah-Lincoln Community College. She also volunteered to teach inmates at the local jail.

Denham worked to make the scholarship ball a huge success for 19 years.

“It was something she was passionate about because she herself had been an educator, so it was very important that she saw children have an opportunity to get to school through something that was part of her efforts,” she said. “She was always making sure this was a signature event that was of the highest caliber.”

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. is an international service organization that was founded on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1908. It is the oldest Greek-letter organization established by African-American college-educated women.