On Saturday, October 14, 2023, members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated’s Bronx chapter, Eta Omega Omega in partnership with the Brooklyn Public Library, unveiled a new portrait depicting the first African American to serve as president of both the New York Library Association and the New York City School Librarians Association, the late Dr. Lucille Cole Thomas.
The unveiling took place at the Brooklyn Public Library Central Library, where Dr. Thomas began her career in 1955, and served on the Board of Trustees for nearly three decades, including as chair from 2003 to 2006.
Dr. Thomas was a member of the Eta Omega Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority Incorporated® in the Bronx. Members of the international service organization approached Brooklyn Public Library officials with the idea of honoring the legendary librarian through a painting. The portrait, which was envisioned as part of the Historical Marker project of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority Incorporated® was created by contemporary visual artist Charles Edward Williams, and the commission was generously supported by Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority Incorporated® Eta Omega Omega chapter, the family of Dr. Lucille Cole Thomas, the New York Black Librarians’ Caucus, and many caring members of the community who knew and admired Dr. Thomas.
Dr. Thomas, who would have turned 102 this month, also served as president of the New York Library Club and the International Association of School Librarianship; she founded the New York City storytelling contest and served on the American Library Association Council and Executive Board, and was awarded the organization’s highest distinction, Honorary Member. As a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority Incorporated®, Eta Omega Omega Chapter, Dr. Thomas was a mentor and annual contributor to the chapter’s scholarship supporting young women.
“Since our founding in 1908, the women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated have been trailblazers and on the frontlines of service. Today we are proud to celebrate our trailblazing sister from the Eta Omega Omega Chapter, Dr. Lucille Cole Thomas. Her portrait will stand as a testament to her commitment to enriching the lives of so many throughout her storied career as a Librarian and a leader,” said Dr. Claudia Schrader, President, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated® Eta Omega Omega Chapter.
About the Artist
Charles Edward Williams is a contemporary visual artist from South Carolina. He holds a BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Georgia and an MFA from the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG). Permanent collections include the North Carolina Museum of Art (NC), the Gibbes Museum (SC),Georgia Museum of Art (GA), Knoxville Museum of Art (TN), Delaware Art Museum (DE), Mississippi Museum of Art (MS), Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University (NC), and the Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art (NJ). Williams also received the Riley Institute Diversity Leadership Award from the State of South Carolina for developing enriching art programs within local communities.
About Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority Incorporated® Eta Omega Omega Chapter
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® (AKA) is an international service organization that was founded on the campus of Howard University in Washington, DC in 1908. It is the oldest Greek letter organization established by African-American college-educated women. Led by International President Danette Anthony Reed, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® is often hailed as “America’s premier Greek-letter organization for African-American women.” For more information on Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® and its programs, please visit AKA1908.com.
Eta Omega Omega Chapter is the oldest and largest graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® in Bronx, NY, chartered in May 1964. Eta Omega Omega’s signature service programs focus on educational enrichment, health promotion, economic legacy, the arts, and global impact. These programs are the cornerstone of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® international theme, “Soaring to Greater Heights of Service and Sisterhood.”
About Brooklyn Public Library
Brooklyn Public Library is one of the nation’s largest library systems and among New York City’s most democratic institutions. As a leader in developing modern 21st century libraries, we provide resources to support personal advancement, foster civic literacy, and strengthen the fabric of community among the more than 2.6 million individuals who call Brooklyn home.
We provide nearly 65,000 free programs a year with writers, thinkers, artists, and educators—from around the corner and around the world. And we give patrons millions of opportunities to enjoy one of life’s greatest satisfactions: the joy of a good book.
Featured image caption
Left to Right – LaVern Best King (Archives Committee, Eta Omega Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.), Charles Edward Williams (Artist), Ronald Thomas (son of Dr. Lucille Cole Thomas), Kilolo Thomas (granddaughter of Dr. Lucille Cole Thomas), Okolo Thomas (granddaughter of Dr. Lucille Cole Thomas), Beverly Thomas (daughter of Dr. Lucille Cole Thomas), Dr. Claudia Schrader (President, Eta Omega Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.), and April Fowler (Historian, Eta Omega Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.)