United! Let’s Fight for Justice & Equity – Join the NAACP

The NAACP held their national membership drive during the month of December, and Central Jersey Alumnae Chapter (CJA) of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was on board to collaborate with this important initiative.  The Strategic Partnerships Committee joined forces with the New Brunswick Chapter of the NAACP and held an exclusive Zoom webinar where participants were enlightened about the NAACP’s national membership drive, the importance of membership and its benefits.  The discussion also provided a wealth of information about the organization’s history, mission, and goals.

Entitled, “United! Let’s Fight for Justice & Equity—Join the NAACP”, CJA welcomed guest speaker, Reverend Sonya Redd, Membership Chairperson and Executive Director Committee Member.  Reverend Redd led the discussion on disrupting inequality, dismantling racism and accelerating change in key areas. She provided a timeline of the NAACP’s role in the Civil Rights Movement and activism since its inception to how its organizational structure is designed to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of all citizens as well as remove all barriers of racial discrimination through democratic processes.  Reverend Redd noted that the NAACP’s mission is "to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality [of] rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination". 

Pivoting from the organization’s history and accomplishments, Reverend Redd asserted the NAACP’s mission to continue to aggressively fight against the most profound injustices that people of color continue to encounter.  She cited some examples of today’s most egregious social injustices, noting police brutality, the disparities in resources during the pandemic in underserved communities and increased hate crimes towards people of color as catalysts to drive change. Reverend Redd said that membership, active participation and unified efforts can lead to effective change.  

Nearly 50 participants as well as Deborah Morgan, NAACP Branch Secretary, and Carl Wright, Franklin Township Councilman (Ward 4) were in attendance absorbing this information and witnessing this dynamic and inspirational presentation.  Reverend Red provided a wealth of information on the different NAACP membership options and ways to register to become a member.

 For more information on this historic organization, please visit the NAACP‘s website at www.NAACP.org. You can view the video of the event on our YouTube channel.

CodeRED Teaches Coding to Delta Academy

The fifth annual CodeRED event for Central Jersey Alumnae Chapter (CJA) was held on December 11, 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was held virtually over Zoom. Despite the challenges of a virtual environment, the event was quite a success.

The CodeRED Day of Service is part of a global initiative to introduce millions of students to Computer Science. Taking place on the “International Day of Code”, CodeRED aims to expose, inspire and motivate more children of color, especially girls, to the world of computer coding and technology. There were 14 girls, ages 11-14, from the Delta Academy program who participated in the activity, supported by 8 volunteers from the CJA Technology and Delta Academy committees.

Our CJA Technology Co-Chair, Maureen Taylor, started the session speaking about how computer science was a foundation of her career in telecommunications. Ms. Taylor was encouraged by her mother to “go into computers” after her mom witnessed large computers being rolled into her workplace, a scene not unlike that in the movie “Hidden Figures.” Ms. Taylor loved Math and liked to solve problems so it was a good career to pursue. With a BS degree in Mathematics and a MS in Engineering majoring in Computer & Information Science, Ms. Taylor embarked upon a career that spanned voice, data and wireless communications. In each step, Ms. Taylor told the girls how computer science was integral to the communications network products she helped develop first as a software engineer and later as a manager. The girls came to understand that the different apps on their smart phones are all computer programs running on a computer in their phones.  Ms. Taylor also said that with the widespread of smartphones, the most fulfilling experience was seeing how her efforts and those of other wireless software engineers helped change the way people communicate.

The class then segued into the coding exercises. Students were assigned to one of 4 break-out rooms. The main coding exercise was called “Outbreak” which was a simulation model designed by code.org that allowed them to see what happens when a virus is introduced into a population. The exercise was both educational and challenging. The girls programmed in a language called “Blockly” which in turn generated Javascript code. As they coded the simulation, they observed the impact of healthy ‘sprite’ characters in the simulation coming in contact with sick ones. They saw the impact of mask-wearing on the spread of the virus. They were able to code ‘probability’ of infection. They also observed the impact of vaccinations in the simulation. Sound familiar? We are all living this now, but these girls learned how computer science can help predict the impact of various remedies to help control the virus.

The feedback on the exercise was very positive. Several girls said they would like to learn more about computer science. Some direct quotes from the girls included: “I learned how you can use coding and probability to test how likely something will happen and how fast it can happen.” “I learned that coding is not as confusing as it seems.” “I learned more coding than I learned at school.” “I learned how block coding and Javascript work together to code things.” “I liked this CodeRed session because I enjoy puzzles and coding, so I thought that this session was really interesting.”

Students were given individual accounts under code.org. This allowed them to save their exercises and continue work on their programs in their spare time. The girls will all receive certificates as a memory of their participation.

This was one of our best CodeRED sessions. The girls learned how computer science can be applied to a real-world situation that they are very familiar with. This gave them a different perspective on the problem and provided them with a great educational experience.

Voter Education Flyer

Voter Education: Make Your Voice Heard

The Social Action Committee held a Town Hall on May 19, 2021. The “Voter Education: Make Your Voice Heard” webinar was designed to educate and engage our communities emphasizing the importance of voting in every election by discussing the significance of each office represented and by highlighting the importance of the voting process.  We received in detail the function and role of the Board of Elections Administrator, the Board of Elections Commissioner and the County Clerk by a representative from each of the three counties in our service area. 

Early Voting

Ms. Joanne Rajoppi, Union County Clerk, discussed her role in the early voting process.  She will be responsible for implementing the process and protocol for early voting in the NJ General Election starting in November 2021. Electronic poll books will be used and the voters will be allowed to vote at any site within their county.

Voter Outreach and Voter Status

Mr. Thomas Lynch, Board of Elections Commissioner in Middlesex County, is responsible for Voter Outreach and Voter Status. New Jersey had a historical number of mail-in-ballots in 2020 due to COVID-19. In 2021 we will be returning to the “norm” and his office will educate voters on changes that will be made to the process. The Board of Elections will educate everyone to ensure they have the opportunity to vote.

Voter Registration

Mr. Jerry Midgette, Esq., Board of Elections Administrator Somerset County, shared his role in the new laws for early voting registration in NJ and his support in implementing the process. Still in committee, in the NJ State Legislature, is the Same Day Voting process. Mr. Midgette discussed the challenges for same day voting and how important it will be to have the appropriate technology and a validated data system to protect the election process. He also explained Active and Inactive Status of voters and how to change to the appropriate status if you were not aware that you are Inactive. You could be removed from the roll if you did not vote in two consecutive federal elections. To be reinstated you must re-register. The Board of Elections is also heavily involved in cyber security.


Ms. Henal Patel, Esq., Director of Democracy & Justice Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, led the second panel discussion on Redistricting. She gave a passionate overview on redistricting and gerrymandering and the effect they have on determining our communities political power for the next decade. She also spoke about the impact they have on holding elected officials accountable. Redistricting is the process of redrawing our political boundary lines every ten years so that representation reflects the current population based on the U.S. Census. We do it for Congressional seats, State Legislature, county seats, municipal districts and school districts. Although NJ is now 45% people of color, our maps do not reflect that. The new map, based on the 2020 Census, must reflect and represent our communities.

A Call to Action

Toni Hendrix, 3rd Vice President, Community/Civic Engagement Chair in the New Brunswick Branch of the NAACP, gave the Call to Action. Ms. Hendrix emphasized that we have the power to engage and drive our communities forward in Health Care, Affordable Housing, and Education. Our rights are in the hands of the people we elect into office on the local, state, and federal levels. Women vote on a higher level than men and Black women are the most motivated of all voters. All of us must go to our family, friends, and community circles to encourage everyone to exercise their power to be in control of their civil rights.

If you missed this Town Hall, you can view it in its entirety here.

poetry cypher flyer

CJA Poetry Cypher 2021

If you weren’t present at the 2021 CJA Poetry Cypher, you missed an exhilarating evening of cultural expression! The CJA Deltas Arts & Letters Committee, co-chaired by Nicholl Rodgers and Kristine Smith, hosted its annual Poetry Cypher on Saturday, January 30th. The theme of this virtual event was “They Love Our Rhythm, But Not Our Blues.”

The evening began with a performance by members of the committee who used American Sign Language to express “How Many Times” by Trey Songz. The routine was choreographed by CJA member Marilyn Hugue. Attendees were then formally welcomed by Chapter President Karen Wade Culp. CJA member Passion Moss Hasan served as Mistress of Ceremonies, frequently telling viewers to “clap it up” and “snap it up” for the spoken word artists that included Darrell Shamello Durant, Ameerah Shabazz-Bilal, James C. Ellerby, Malcolm Minor, Treasure, Mwikali Words, and Euphony.

Attendees were captivated as the artists proudly spoke from personal, cultural, and historical perspectives; and expressed triumph over adversity. The Zoom chat was on overload as viewers gave “virtual snaps” and celebrated each artist. At the conclusion, Moss Hasan invited attendees to remain for “CJA Club Quarantine.” Sorority member and DJ Thelma Ramsey, who played tunes that kept attendees moving throughout the night in between performances, turned up the volume and the party ensued as attendees danced to familiar old school club songs. It was a fabulous virtual event attended by over 200 people! Congratulations to the Arts & Letters Committee for a free, entertaining, expressive,  educational, and cultural event. Please check the CJA Deltas website at cjadeltas.org for future programs.

CodeRED 2020 Introduces Delta Academy Students to Computer Science

The fourth annual CodeRED event for Central Jersey Alumnae Chapter (CJA) was held on December 12, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was held virtually over Zoom. Despite the challenges of a virtual environment, the event was quite a success! 

The CodeRED Day of Service is part of a global initiative to introduce millions of students to Computer Science. Taking place on the “International Day of Code”, CodeRED aims to expose, inspire and motivate more children of color, especially girls, to the world of computer coding and technology. There were 12 girls, ages 11-14, from the Delta Academy program who participated in the activity, supported by 9 volunteers from the CJA Technology and Delta Academy committees as well as a guest speaker from the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Our guest speaker was Erika Jean-Pierre, a graduate of the Rutgers University College of Engineering and Computer Science. Ms. Jean-Pierre’s major was Electrical and Computer Engineering. She was the only black woman in her 2020 graduating class of 250 students. Ms. Jean-Pierre talked about her love of math when growing up and her passion for introducing young girls to STEM.  She talked about the need for a strong support system in school as well as the challenges and experience of working as a minority engineer in a corporate environment. Ms. Jean-Pierre also spoke about the need for self-motivation, persistence and serving as an example for others to follow.

The class then segued into the coding exercises and students were assigned to one of 5 break-out rooms. We had two levels of exercises based on the experience and expertise of the students. Both coding exercises were taken from the code.org library of programs. One program was the Dance Party which used block coding to program the dance moves of various cartoon-like characters. This program really allowed the students to be creative and have a lot of fun. The other program was the App Lab. This program provided a good challenge for the experienced students and used block coding and Javascript to create a customized app.

Students were given individual accounts under code.org which allowed them to save their exercises and continue work on their programs in their spare time. We also created certificates for the students as a memory of their participation. All the students had a great time and learned a lot!

CJA 45th Anniversary Logo

CJA 45th Anniversary Virtual Gala

The CJA Deltas held its “45th Anniversary Virtual Gala: Celebrating a Legacy of Service” on Saturday, November 21st from 8-10 PM. It was a two hour evening of fun delivered right into the homes of attendees via Zoom who were welcomed by Chapter President Karen Wade Culp and the 45th Anniversary Committee co-chairs Donna Houston and Joyce Davidson.

Attendees thereafter partied with DJ V. Free who brought the fire and had everyone on their feet dancing all night! Additional entertainment included the CJA 45th Anniversary Choir which sang a medley of celebratory tunes; and the CJA 45th Anniversary Stroll Team, a multi-generational step team. In addition, there were a variety of video recognitions from Delta leadership at the national, regional and state levels; from state, county, and local lawmakers; from local chapters of other Divine Nine organizations; and from people who have benefited from the chapter’s youth programming. The night ended with a walk through the CJA Virtual Museum - the 45 year story of the chapter. The chapter raised over $33K, surpassing its goal of $25K to continue to provide youth mentoring programs, funds for scholarships, and community outreach programs.

This was a celebratory event like no other! The chapter is grateful to its many supporters and looks forward to continued volunteer efforts in Middlesex, Somerset, and Union counties. 

You Talk, We’ll Listen

On October 20, 2020, the CJA Deltas hosted a program titled “You Talk, We’ll Listen: A Virtual Town Hall Exploring the Challenges and Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19 on Our Youth.” This event was a collaboration between the Program Planning, Membership Services, Dr. Betty Shabazz Delta Academy and the Physical and Mental Health committees. Panelists included Joi Fisher-Griffin, an author, adoption advocate, and a school administrator; Dr. C. Alex Gray, principal of Martin Luther King Intermediate School located in Piscataway; Natasha Hemmings, CEO for the Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey; and Lisa Perry, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and founder of Life Perspectives Counseling Services. CJA Member Denise Cliatt served as moderator.

The top mental health concerns identified by our panelists were ADHD, anxiety disorders, and depression. Concern was expressed for children who are accustomed to socializing with peers, but are now restricted due to COVID. They may also be feeling isolated in their virtual classrooms. Parents should pay attention and notice if their children are hyperactive, crying frequently, worrying, exhibiting excessive defiance/disobedience, and the like. They should also look for changes in behavior such as anger for no reason, fighting, excessive sleeping, differences in hygiene or appetite, shifts in grades, etc.

Recommendations to support children during COVID-19 were to have them engage in healthy habits such as physical exercise, eating healthy, and having consistency in routines at home. They should have a trusted adult to whom they can talk. Youth should also be encouraged to engage in self-care like journaling and meditation, yoga, and herbal therapy. The event was well-attended and informative. It was also helpful for educators, service providers, and those who work in the areas of social/emotional/mental health, as they had an opportunity to enter breakout rooms and further explore specific concerns in their respective fields.

Click here to listen to the full session.

Collage of Sorors at Virtual Eastern Regional Conference - 9

CJA Wins Big at Eastern Region Virtual Conference

The CJA Deltas initially planned to attend the 52nd Eastern Regional Conference in Maryland during the weekend of August 6th-9th. Although a public gathering was cancelled due to the public health crisis, our amazing organization, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., moved forward with an unprecedented virtual conference. CJA members, adorned in the sorority colors, logged in ready to conduct business virtually on Saturday August 8th. By the end of the daylong conference, the CJA Deltas had received the following regional awards:

  • Eastern Region Medium-Size Chapter of the Year
  • Eastern Region Exemplary Membership Services Award
  • Eastern Region Collegiate Connection Award (Small Chapter) for its collaboration with the Xi Nu Chapter (Rutgers - New Brunswick)
  • Eastern Region Exemplary Code Red Day of Service Award, Runner-Up
  • Eastern Region Cutting Edge Technology Award

We enjoyed our first ever virtual conference and were proud to participate! We are equally proud to be recognized for the impactful programs and services we provide to our service areas in Middlesex, Somerset, and Union counties. Whether in person or virtually, we look forward to being as impactful in 2020-21. #CJADeltas #TheEast #DST1913 #DSTVirtual2020

Be Bold! Be Counted! 2020 Census information table

Social Action Saturday

It was very clearly “Social Action Saturday” for the CJA Deltas today, August 1, 2020! Our Social Action Committee (SAC) divided itself and spent the day in communities across our service area promoting the importance of completing and submitting the 2020 Census. We partnered with the New Brunswick NAACP by participating in the “car caravan.” Our vehicles proudly displayed the chapter’s ongoing message of the need for everyone to “Be Counted.” The chapter also shared its census literature at the kiosk there in New Brunswick. Other SAC members took Elizabeth by storm as the city celebrated its Black Lives Matter Painting and Presentation Ceremony. The CJA Deltas wisely used that gathering to distribute census literature and encourage census completion. It was a full, but rewarding day for the Social Action Committee and it’s what we are called to do as Deltas. #CJADeltas #DST1913 #TheEast #SocialAction #BeCounted #2020Census #CompleteCount

CJA Deltas post with check given the Richmond Towers

CJA Deltas COVID-19 Outreach to Richmond Towers

On July 9, 2020, the CJA Deltas COVID-19 Outreach Providing Essential Services (CJA-COPES) presented $1000 to Richmond Towers Tenant Association for the purchase of hand sanitizers, masks disinfectant wipes/sprays, and other personal protection equipment for their residents. CJA-COPES is a Delta Emergency Response Team (D-ERT) program to serve Black and Latino communities where there are disproportionate levels of physical, emotional and economic hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic. CJA members have raised nearly $9,000 for COPES relief across Middlesex, Somerset, and Union counties. #CJADeltas #TheEast #DST1913 #ServiceInOurHearts #EmergencyResponse