The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Bernice Irene Sumlin

Share on Social Media

Information about Bernice Irene Sumlin

Profile image of Bernice Irene Sumlin

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Association Chief Executive
Educator

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Pink and Green
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
11/29/1926
Birth Location:
Dayton, Ohio

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Association Chief Executive
Educator

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Pink and Green
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
11/29/1926
Birth Location:
Dayton
See how Bernice Irene Sumlin is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

The 19th International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority, Inc., Bernice Irene Sumlin (1974-1978) was born on November 29, 1926, in Dayton, Ohio, to Wright R. and Gussie Bingham Sumlin.

Sumlin was initiated into the Zeta Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., at Wilberforce College in 1946. After graduating with her B.S. degree in 1948, Sumlin transferred her Sorority membership to the Beta Eta Omega Chapter in Dayton. She furthered her education by graduating from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where she earned her M.A. degree. Sumlin then began her career in education. She served as a high school teacher, guidance counselor, community counselor and secondary principal before retiring. She then worked as an industrial consultant for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

In 1962, Sumlin succeeded LaRue Walter Frederick as Great Lakes Regional Director of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., in Detroit, Michigan. Following a productive four year term she was appointed as chairman of the Sorority’s National Standards Committee in 1966. In 1972, Sumlin was elected First Supreme Anti-Basileus at the 45th Boule in Denver, Colorado.

In 1974, Sumlin was elected the 19th International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Sumlin’s administration donated $25,000 to Central State University for the restoration of the Hallie Q. Brown Collection of rare books by and about blacks, which had been damaged by a tornado. Additionally, during her tenure, AKA contributed half a million dollars to the United Negro College Fund. On October 25, 1974, Sumlin answered a challenge given by retiring Executive Director Carey B. Preston and initiated the Alpha Kappa Alpha Reading Experience, a national program offering individualized tutoring to undereducated inner-city youth.

In 1975, at the invitation of President and Mrs. Gerald Ford, Sumlin represented the Sorority at a reception held at the White House launching the International Women’s Year Conference. Later, she represented the Sorority at the International Women’s Year Conference in Mexico, City. In addition, Sumlin’s administration saw the installation of the Sorority’s Founders’ Window at Howard University in Rankin Chapel. She also began the recognition of sorority members with twenty-five years of service as Silver Sorors and those with fifty years of service as Golden Sorors.

Sumlin was a presenter at the Fourth African American Summit in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1997, and attended the 1999 Summit in Ghana. Her involvement in civic, educational and professional services has brought her many awards and citations, including an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Central State University. She has also been cited for outstanding service by the National Council of Negro Women, the Continental Society, the A.M.E. church and Outstanding Women of Dayton.

Sumlin passed away on January 11, 2018.

See how Bernice Irene Sumlin is related to other HistoryMakers
Loading...
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bernice Irene Sumlin's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bernice Irene Sumlin recalls her election as supreme basileus of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bernice Irene Sumlin describes her vision for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bernice Irene Sumlin recalls her administration of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bernice Irene Sumlin describes her leadership style at Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bernice Irene Sumlin recalls lessons from her tenure at Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bernice Irene Sumlin describes her challenges at Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bernice Irene Sumlin remembers Barbara McKinzie
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bernice Irene Sumlin reflects upon her time as supreme basileus of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Bernice Irene Sumlin remembers her successes as supreme basileus of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bernice Irene Sumlin remembers sponsoring the United Negro College Fund
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bernice Irene Sumlin describes the importance of scholarship at Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bernice Irene Sumlin talks about the future of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bernice Irene Sumlin reflects upon the importance of sisterhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bernice Irene Sumlin lists her favorites
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bernice Irene Sumlin describes her mother's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bernice Irene Sumlin describes her mother's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Bernice Irene Sumlin describes her father's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bernice Irene Sumlin describes her father's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bernice Irene Sumlin describes the story of her birth
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bernice Irene Sumlin describes how she takes after her father
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bernice Irene Sumlin describes her earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bernice Irene Sumlin remembers the Weaver neighborhood of Dayton, Ohio
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bernice Irene Sumlin describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bernice Irene Sumlin recalls the Wayman Chapel A.M.E. Church in Dayton, Ohio
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Bernice Irene Sumlin remembers segregation in Dayton, Ohio
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Bernice Irene Sumlin recalls the shopping district of Dayton, Ohio
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Bernice Irene Sumlin recalls her early interest in oratory
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Bernice Irene Sumlin describes her elementary education
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bernice Irene Sumlin remembers her influences at Weaver Elementary School in Dayton, Ohio
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bernice Irene Sumlin recalls her interests at Weaver Elementary School
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bernice Irene Sumlin remembers Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Dayton, Ohio
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bernice Irene Sumlin recalls her teachers at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bernice Irene Sumlin describes her activities at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bernice Irene Sumlin remembers her high school classmates
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Bernice Irene Sumlin recalls her relationship with her brother
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Bernice Irene Sumlin remembers when her brother was drafted
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Bernice Irene Sumlin describes her theatre involvement in high school
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Bernice Irene Sumlin remembers her commencement speech
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Bernice Irene Sumlin recalls the Combined Normal and Industrial Department at Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Bernice Irene Sumlin recalls her work for Charles H. Wesley
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Bernice Irene Sumlin remembers Hallie Quinn Brown
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Bernice Irene Sumlin recalls the termination of Charles H. Wesley, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Bernice Irene Sumlin recalls the termination of Charles H. Wesley, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Bernice Irene Sumlin recalls joining Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Bernice Irene Sumlin describes how she became a public school teacher
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Bernice Irene Sumlin remembers teaching at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Dayton, Ohio
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Bernice Irene Sumlin remembers becoming a public school administrator
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Bernice Irene Sumlin recalls her support of William Harrison
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Bernice Irene Sumlin recalls her student, James E. Farmer
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Bernice Irene Sumlin remembers becoming supreme basileus of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Bernice Irene Sumlin remembers meeting Nelson Mandela
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Bernice Irene Sumlin recalls her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Bernice Irene Sumlin reflects upon her life
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Bernice Irene Sumlin remembers school desegregation in Dayton, Ohio
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Bernice Irene Sumlin reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Bernice Irene Sumlin describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Bernice Irene Sumlin talks about her family
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Bernice Irene Sumlin describes her involvement at the Wayman Chapel A.M.E. Church in Dayton, Ohio
  • Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Bernice Irene Sumlin describes how she would like to be remembered