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A Rich Chapter History

A Des Moines city chapter was chartered on November 22, 1932, as the Beta Gamma Chapter.  Charter members were: Lucille Baker, Anna Mae Manuel, Gwendolyn Wilson Fowler, Wilda B. Hester, Marie Johnson, Azalia Mitchell, and Ruth Marie Brown. At the time, the chapter included graduate and undergraduate members.


During the Great Depression and war years that followed, sorority members were engaged in active support of the military men and women who were located at Fort Des Moines, which housed African American soldiers. Later, during those years,  the chapter sponsored a life membership in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).


During the turbulent ’60s and ’70s members supported a free breakfast program provided by the local Black Panthers.  In 1971, Beta Gamma made a formal request to the AKA national office to separate the graduate and undergraduate members. This move allowed undergraduates to charter the Eta Tau chapter which was associated with Drake University and now includes Iowa State University. At that time, Beta Gamma was given a new name and re-chartered as Iota Zeta Omega (IZO).


IZO continues its active engagement through community programs emphasizing education, health, supporting Black-owned businesses, and voter engagement,  The annual Scholarship Cotillion Program has had more than 400 young men and women participate and receive scholarships.

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