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Sat04192014

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University of Alabama sorority elects 1st black president

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One of the University of Alabama's majority white sororities elected an African-American president for the first time in history.

Sigma Delta Tau elected Hannah Patterson, 22, as their newest president. The engineering student joined the sorority last year through informal recruitment, according to university's newspaper, The Crimson White.

The historically Jewish organization inducted its first black member in 2011, and has had a total of three black sisters.

"We're welcoming of any girl that wants to join our chapter and best fits our chapter," the chapter's former president Regina Broda told The Crimson White. "We were founded by seven Jewish women because they, in 1917, couldn't find a home. They were discriminated against. They weren't allowed into sororities. Sigma Delta Tau nationally does not discriminate because it goes completely against our founding principles."

"I guess I never really thought about, 'Oh, I'm the first African-American that has been president,'" Patterson said to the school paper. "I'm just excited for my term and to see where my chapter has gone and where it is going to go."

Sigma Delta Tau's groundbreaking election of Patterson comes shortly after fellow UA sororities (Alpha Gamma Delta, Tri Delta, Chi Omega and Pi Beta Phi) came under fire for allegedly banning blacks from pledging.

Since September's report about segregated UA sororities and after marches on campus for more diverse Greek organizations, at least 14 African-American students have accepted sorority bids.

(Follow Carrie Healey on Twitter @CarrieHeals.)

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