The word debutante comes from the French word “debuter” which means to lead off. The Debutante ball was the formal presentation of a young woman to aristocratic society. An elaborate parade of wealth, manners and beauty; the debutante prepared for her presentation with years of training in etiquette, dance and social graces. Upon approval from the monarch, the young ladies were introduced to blue blood bachelors at a formal ball in the hopes that they would be picked for marriage.
The Cotillion is a French square dance, and it originated in the West Indies in the early 1700’s. At a cotillion, a lady would hold a lighted candle. When she was approached by two gentlemen, she would hand her candle to the one she did not choose to dance with, thus the origin of the saying “holding a candle for you.”
In 1985, Lambda Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. presented the first DeKalb County Debutante Cotillion for young African American women as an annual fundraiser. The goals were: Scholarship, Cultural and Social Training, Cultural Awareness, Proper Etiquette, Educational/Financial Information, and Community Service. Since 1985, over $750,000 in scholarships have been awarded to the Debutantes.
Since its inception, the Debutante Cotillion has introduced more than five hundred (500) young ladies to the greater Metropolitan Atlanta society. These young ladies have participated in various activities including a “Get Acquainted Tea”, Mother-Daughter Activities, Father-Daughter Activities, cultural and career workshops, financial workshops, and a myriad of community service projects.
In an effort to maximize opportunities for increased support to the participants, in 2003, the Lambda Epsilon Omega chapter created a non-profit foundation. The Forever Pink Foundation, formerly known as the Lambda Epsilon Omega Foundation, has continued the tradition of sponsoring the annual Debutante Cotillion, and looks forward to many, many more years of service in the community for years to come.