WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – A wave of political and social change swept across the United States during the late 1960s and 1970s.
Fifty years ago, at Winston-Salem State College, a group of 12 African-American women felt the time was right to begin a new campus group. One of the 12 Founders, Anita Chase explains.
“It was like a thirst, a need or a want. It filled a void that people were feeling,” said Chase.
Women on campus wanted to connect and serve their community. They turned to Groove Phi Groove, an established all-male African-American group for help. The women named their organization Swing Phi Swing.
Swing Phi Swing is shorthand for empowerment. Member Willie Frazier explains what the group means to her.
“The comradery is wonderful, the ladies are wonderful,” said Frazier. “Where you lack, someone else shines and that helps you shine because you get to learn from them.”
Dr. Vanessa Diggs joined Swing Phi Swing during the 80s. Dr. Diggs was impressed by the group’s dedication to community service. She didn’t see the same level of commitment from other campus organizations.
“They wanted to go into poor neighborhoods and have feeding programs and clothing programs,” said Dr. Diggs. “I am thinking ‘Wow, they want to touch people like me.'”
Swing Phi Swing’s message of academic excellence and service can now be found on over 50 colleges and universities.
From March 27 to March 31, Swing Phi Swing will celebrate their 50th anniversary in Winston-Salem. Over 600 people are expected to attend meetings, dances and perform community service. Della Rivers describes the feeling surround their 50th anniversary convention.
“When these ladies get together, it’s like a dream come true,” said Rivers. “You get up and they were all there. The love. It happened. That’s what happens,” Rivers added.
As the convention draws to a close, Swing Phi Swing will come together on campus at the very spot where the group was created.
A monument recognizing Swing Phi Swing’s contributions to the community will be placed near the library.