Brown's Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority honors East Providence resident Coleman


EAST PROVIDENCE Tockwotton on the Waterfront resident Miss Beatrice Coleman was joined for a celebration of her 109th birthday by Brown University President Christina Paxson and a roomful of family members and sorority sisters of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Coleman is a 1925 graduate of Brown University and the oldest alumnae of the institution.  A groundbreaker of her generation, Miss Coleman was one of three African American women in her class at Brown during an era when many women (regardless of race) didn’t finish high school.

“Miss Coleman has inspired generations of young women at Brown,” said Candace L. Harper, president of the Theta Psi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.  “Her fortitude, intelligence and the emphasis that she has placed on education and mentoring throughout her lifetime make her a role model for everyone facing seemingly insurmountable odds.  She’s lived her life by setting an example for others.”

Education has played an important role in the 88 years since Miss Coleman’s graduation from Brown.  After finishing her degree, she wanted to teach but couldn’t find a position in her hometown because of her ethnicity, so she moved to Germantown, Pennsylvania where she taught junior high school, before returning to her native Providence.  Still active at age 109, she attends many group activities (physical, mental, social and spiritual), reads the Brown Alumni Magazine and Brown Daily Herald and plays the piano.

Known for her quick wit, nimble piano-playing fingers and penchant for chocolate, Miss Coleman is a vital member of the community at Tockwotton on the Waterfront.  “We admire her vitality, respect her educational achievements and appreciate her dedication to Brown and the Episcopal Church,” remarked Tockwotton on the Waterfront Executive Director Kevin McKay.  “She’s living each day to the fullest,” he added.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated was established in 1908 on the campus of Howard University as the first Greek-letter organization founded by African-American, collegiate women.    Guided by the principles of high scholastic and ethical standards, unity, and sisterhood and service to all mankind, Alpha Kappa Alpha continues to carry out the vision of its founders.  Through the years, Alpha Kappa Alpha has grown from sixteen trailblazers to an international sisterhood of over 200,000 members with chapters throughout the United States, Africa, Asia and Europe.

The non-profit Tockwotton community ( has been serving seniors in the Greater Providence area since 1856.  Located in East Providence, Tockwotton on the Waterfront provides assisted living and memory care, rehabilitation and skilled nursing care in a home-like setting on the scenic Providence River.  Offering qualified and compassionate care for generations of Rhode Island seniors, Tockwotton is a five-star Medicare community.


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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.