The Links, Incorporated is an exclusive non-profit organization based upon the ideals of combining friendship and community service. The organization was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 9, 1946, from a group of ladies known as the Philadelphia Club to focus on civic, cultural, and educational endeavors. The organization was formally incorporated five years later, in 1951.
The Links, Incorporated consists primarily of professional African-American women. Membership is extended to candidates nominated and approved by currently active Links members. In addition, membership is also extended to daughters of active Link members, who are called "Heir-O-Links." For example, Ninth National President of The Links, Incorporated, Regina Jollivette Frazier, was the first "Heir-O-Link" president in 1986. Currently, the Links, Incorporated, has over 12,000 members, and 276 chapters nationally and one chapter in the Bahamas. The Links, Incorporated celebrated their sixtieth anniversary on November 9, 2006. In honor of the achievement, commemorative medals were issued to celebrate the organization's achievements.
The Links, Incorporated focuses primarily on four strategic areas of interest ("facets"):
National Trends and Services: Currently, The Links sponsor Linkages to Life: Organ Tissue and Bone Marrow Donation Awareness Program, which promotes organ donation. In addition, in October 2006, the Links, donated one million dollars to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, which will be used to create "The Links Incorporated Educational and Cultural Center," promoting social and civil progress in America.
Services for Youth: The Links, Incorporated, offers programs such as Operation SEED and "Just Say 'No'!" in order to educate youth about the perils of drug and substance abuse as well as improve the self-esteem of teens.
The Arts: The Links, Incorporated, are actively involved in promoting African and African American art, in order to educate youth and adults about the artwork's significance. The art component of the Links was put into place by Link Margaret Hough and was placed into the organization in 1964 after the Links' Fourteenth National Assembly in Nassau, Bahamas.
"'Health and Human Services:"'-The Links, Incorporated established the Health and Human Services facet in response to the chronic health disparities that persist in our communities and result in the decreased life expectancy of African-Americans. This new facet brings greater focus, resources, and coordination to The Links, Incorporated’s health initiatives already in existence. With the expansion of partnerships with national health agencies, and more definitive structure and support for our health related signature programs, our mission can flourish.
In 1946, two homemakers, Sarah Strickland-Scott and Margaret Rosell Hawkins, had a vision to found a club for colored women which would aim to enrich the community through education and the arts. As a result, on November 9, 1946, Scott and Hawkins formed the Philadelphia Club.
Esmerelda Rich-Hawkins, Ann Armstrong, Nan Delany-Johnson, Marguerite Armstrong, Sally Armstrong, Grace Artis, Addie Butterfield, Norma Darden, Vera Esmeralda Hawkins, Vera Shade Green, Ethel Hines, Jessie Pash, Helen Quigless, and Jennie Taylor
Julia Delany, Blanche Daniels, Ruby Fisher, Amelia Hamlin, Ernestine Hamlin, Gertrude Harris, Nannie Inborden, Willie Kay, Mamie McCauley, Louise McClennan, Louise Perrin, Mildred Taylor, Geraldine Trigg, and Marguerite White
While the Raleigh chapter was founded, the group decided to nationalize. During June 1949, delegates, one representing each of the thirteen daughter chapters, met with the original members of the Philadelphia Club in Philadelphia to discuss incorporating the society and to showcase the involvement of each chapter. After the members decided to rename the group, The Links, Incorporated, one of the founders — Sarah Strickland-Scott was named as the first president. The organization was incorporated on March 28, 1951.
Members co-involvement with National Pan-Hellenic Council Sororities
The white rose, the official flower of The Links, Incorporated
Almost forty years after The Links's founding in Philadelphia, the Links's National President Dolly Adams honored the five living founding members of the Philadelphia Club in their home city during the 24th National Assembly,
We will strive to love each other as you have loved us, and keep The Links' chain of friend-ship ever flourishing and expanding. We thank you for your vision, wisdom, guidance, and abundant talent unselfishly shared with all Linkdom.
To date, The Links, Incorporated, has had fourteen National Presidents, each of whom (except one) served (or serves) a four-year term. Each National President is selected by her peers and must have fulfilled certain guidelines outlined by the organization before running for the position.
1949-1953; Link Scott composed the organization’s pledge, a promise to support the organization, which members make. Later it was she who arranged and presided over the first Assemblies and meetings of the Executive Council. Under her leadership the group was incorporated; fifty-eight chapters were established; Area divisions were reorganized; and The Links became recognized as the “fastest growing, most interesting group of Black women in the country.” (Pittsburgh Courier, June 1953). Link Scott was also active in Delta Sigma Theta and Jack and Jill.
1953-1957; Link Hawkins designed the Links bracelet. She was a member of the Eastern Arts Association, the National Arts Association, and the New Jersey Teachers Association. She was active in “Jack and Jill,” the Mother’s Study Club, the Sunday Niters, and the Dealers. .
1957-1961; In her state, Virginia, she served on the Central Planning District Commission and the Virginia Cultural Laureate Center. Three governors were counted among her friends and she received civic appointments from two of them. Her life was a series of firsts--she was the first Black woman appointed to the Lynchburg School Board in 1971; she was the first Black elected president-of the Southern Regional School Boards Association in 1974; and she became the first woman rector of the Board of Visitors at Norfolk State University in 1976. She served several terms as president of the Southern Regional Association of School Boards. (This region included eleven states and Puerto-Rico.)
Link Maloney received more than a hundred honors and awards from national, regional, state and local organizations. Saint Paul's College, Lawrenceville, Virginia, awarded her the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.
A special place in her life and affections was reserved for The Links, Inc. A member of the Lynchburg Chapter from its beginnings, she worked untiringly with the chapter in its outstandingly creative and effective programs--particularly the programs for young people. A teenage recreation program called 'Teen-Age Soul Cellar"; transportation to the public library for disadvantaged children; a testing program to identify academically talented children for support and guidance; and art scholarships were some of the projects she helped develop into Lynchburg Chapter's famous '"Keyboard” and the "Steps with Links” projects.
When Link Polly was elected in 1957, her aim was to develop for The Links, a national program in which every chapter would be involved and would serve needs no other organization was addressing. The decision to focus on identification and support of talented youth led to one of the most exciting and productive efforts in organizational history. She put in place the structure for the continuing pattern of active program involvement in which every member of every Links Chapter participates in some relevant community project coordinated by the stated goals of the national organization. Subsequent actions have modified and expanded. The Links programs, but by the end of her presidency in 1962, the organization had been set on its present course of action. Link Maloney was the bridge that carried The Links from youth to maturity. Link Maloney was also very active in Delta Sigma Theta sorority where she served as Eastern Regional Director.
1962-1970; The theme, "Dynamic Dimensions,” used at the 1964 Assembly over which Link Beamon presided, might very well characterize her administration. Enthusiastic, gracious, charming are a few of the adjectives used to describe this effective leader who did so much to expand the program horizons of The Links. Her messages, letters, and speeches are evidence of an elegance of expression, which was a rare natural gift. Link Beamon was also active in Delta Kappa Gamma and Kappa Delta Phi professional organizations.
1970-1974; Link Edmonds was the first Black woman to receive a Ph.D. in History at the Ohio State University. After short periods of teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary and College, and at Saint Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, she joined the faculty of North Carolina Central University. She has been awarded nine honorary degrees and innumerable honors. Among numerous awards is The O. Max Gardner Award from the North Carolina Consolidated System of Higher Education given in 1975. In 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Link Edmonds as his personal representative to the dedication of the new capital building in Monrovia, Liberia. Link Edmonds served as Alternate-Delegate to the 1970 General Assembly of the United Nations. During her term as national president, the chapter establishment program was structured and national Grants-in-Aid became an integral part of The Links' operation. Through her leadership, one of the most significant movements in the organization's history was begun the-- targeting of these Grants-in-Aid to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). With a near perfect record of meeting chapter obligations, the Grants-in-Aid for the first biennium exceeded $l32,000.00, and ultimately exceeded $1,000,000.00. Link Edmonds was also active in Delta Sigma Theta sorority and the National Council of Negro Women, Inc.
1974-1978; Link Ellison was to become the first Black woman to be named employee relation’s officer at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as well as the first Black woman to serve as director of personnel for a federal agency. Link Ellison was the first Black woman to become a member of the Board of Directors of Central Fidelity Banks, Inc. Central Fidelity is ranked by U.S. Banker as seventh among the nation's largest banking companies on overall performance. Link Ellison serves on Central Fidelity's Public Policy Committee. Since she has been a Board member, the Corporation has committed one million dollars to support the education of minority students. President Ellison has said that she envisions Links members as a human resource bank for the Nation--a source for leaders who will serve their communities and combine their talents and assets to influence decision and policy makers of this country. Her own family--cherished mother, devoted husband, children and grandchildren--is the embryo of her concern for Black families, particularly those matriarchal families which seem to have to bear such disproportionally heavy burdens in our society. Her challenge to The Links is that a major program for The Links, Inc., by the year 2000 should be the establishment and ongoing functioning of a "Black Family Institute.” This Institute should be a separate and permanent research center which would formulate goals and develop programs which attack "mega-problems”, and would "furnish government, civic organizations, and Links programs the most recent expert knowledge on the Black family.” (Ellison: Twenty-fifth Assembly Minutes, p. 66.). Link Ellison was also active in Jack and Jill.
1978-1982; Link Purnell has been awarded eight honorary degrees and is a member of three academic honor, societies, Beta Kappa Chi, Alpha Delta Mu, and Psi Chi. The professional organizations to which she belongs include the International Reading Association, the American Association of University Professors, the National Association of College Women, the National Reading Association, and the Louisiana Reading Association.. during her first term as Links National President, Link Purnell directed moving the national headquarters into larger, more suitable accommodations. Moreover, she coordinated the changes involved in continuing the shift from voluntary leadership to the current partnership of voluntary elected leaders supported by an expanded professional staff funded by the organization.
Working closely with the National Program Committee, and particularly with Link Hazelle Boulware of Lynchburg, VA the National Director of Services to Youth, Link Purnell secured for The Links, a grant of $101,205 from the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Program (LEAA) of the U.S. Department of Justice. With five other organizations, The Links worked with the juvenile justice project of the National Board of the YWCA. This project was developed as part of the continuing effort of The Links, and other organizations of concerned women, to respond to the need for prevention and treatment of delinquency among female juveniles.
During Link Purnell's term, updated Orientation Manuals for chapter presidents, Area Directors, chapter programs, personnel, as well as the Manual of Procedures were completed. The Constitution and By-Laws, and Rituals were circulated in their revised formats, and a membership directory--the most comprehensive and detailed ever published by The Links, or any similar group--was completed and distributed to each Links member. Guidelines for conducting National Assemblies, for selecting Honorary Members, and for identifying recipients of national awards have also been standardized. Link Purnell is also active in the National Counsel of Negro Women, Inc. and NAACP.
1982-1986; She was cited by Ebony Magazine as one of the most influential Black Americans from 1982 to 1986; was elected by Dollars and Sense Magazine as one of America's top Business and Professional Women of 1986. Her outstanding participation in civic life continued as she was elected President of the Black Women's Agenda in 1988. She is a member of the Advisory Boards of WHMM-TV in Washington, D.C. and the African-American Institute in New York City. In her role as president, she presented the final payment on the pledge of one million dollars to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the largest contribution to UNCF by any Black organization. In 1985, she led the largest delegation attending the end of the Women's Decade in Nairobi Kenya--a group of over 140 internationally known African-Americans. Adams secured funding for and organized Black Women's Consultation--a coalition of the fifteen largest groups of African-American women in America. It met four times--Consultation I, II, III, and IV. However, in the annals of Links, Inc., this President shines as the one who led the group in the purchasing, renovation, furnishing and equipping of the National Headquarters at 1200 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W. in Washington. Through her boundless energy and her skillful leadership, the members rallied to pay for the building in full, and to fund an endowment to protect its future. Link Adams is also active in Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
1986-1990; President Frazier’s administration was characterized by bold, new and visionary challenges for Links to grow and change. She made significant changes in the traditional Assembly program format and pushed the international character of the group. Two Links chapters were established outside continental U.S.A. In 1990, President Frazier and Program Coordinator Anne Pruitt journeyed to Zambia at the invitation of President Kenneth Kaunda to confer with groups of women in these countries about program efforts with which Links might cooperate. Link Frazier is also active in Jack and Jill and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
1990-1994; Link Sutherland sees the vista of today’s environment as bringing new challenges for the volunteer committed to improving the quality of life for all humanity. “The present status of life in our inner cities, with its high unemployment and less than ideal opportunities, demands that we bring together our best minds and talents to resolve these problems with new strategies and tactics. This is our real challenge,” said Marion Sutherland as she chose for her theme, “Cherishing the Past-Cultivating the Present-Creating the Future.” She is also active in Jack and Jill and Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
1994-1998; During her lifetime she has received sterling awards of achievement, including, her speech, “If Not You, Who? If Not Now, When?” recorded in the Congressional Record of the United States (H366l), May l4, 1980; awarded more than 275 keys to American cities; participant in the Friendship Force, a good will tour of Mexico during the Carter Administration; participant in the American-Jewish Committee sponsorship of ten American women of national acclaim on a human relations trip to Israel; featured in the Black Enterprise Magazine as being one of the Top Five Business Motivators in America; ESSENCE Magazine, EBONY Magazine, and Atlanta Good Life. Her best selling book is entitled: A is for Attitude: An Alphabet for Living, HarperCollins, paperback edition. The National Speakers Association (NSA) selected Link McCloud as the cover story for the 2007 July-August issue.
Link Russell-McCloud led a dynamic, visionary, capable, dedicated team of Links who focused their time, talent, ability and expertise on the timely theme, “Linkages... Toward the Possible.” Each member of the Executive Council, whether elected or appointed, concentrated her efforts on creating seamless organizational leadership that positively responded to the heart of Linkdom, programming. By doing so, the needs of people were met. Link McCloud is also active in Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
1998-2002; Her contributions to The Links, Incorporated over the past 25 years have been most outstanding. She was the organizer and the first president of the Prince George’s County Chapter in 1979; she was the eastern area secretary in 1987, and served as the eastern area director in 1991–1995.
As area director, Barbara went with a delegation to South Africa to break ground for the Links/IFESH Schools built by The Links, Inc. She returned to South Africa as the national president to solidity the construction of the schools and sponsored the South African Chapter of The Links, Inc. She is also active in Delta Sigma Theta sorority and Girlfriends, Inc.
2002-2006; An 18-year member, prior to her historical election to the presidency by acclamation in July 2002, she has served as Chair of the Grants-In-Aid Committee, Director of the Services to Youth Program Facet, Chair of the Membership and National Vice President. Among her many contributions to the organization, she has been instrumental in securing more than $2 million in funding for innovative programs leading to the improvement of the life options for children of African descent. Link Vaughn is also active in Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
2006-2010; Dr. Lee has a 32-year record of active participation in The Links, Incorporated. She is a charter member of the South Suburban Chicago (IL) Chapter located in the Central Area. In 1994, Dr. Lee was appointed as Director of National Trends and Services and served in that capacity until 1998. She has held four National offices; National Member-At-Large (1986–1990), National Nominating Committee Chairperson (1990–1994), National Recording Secretary (1998–2002), and National Vice President (2002–2006).
2010 - Present; Recognizing that business and community prosperity go hand in hand, Copeland leads Key’s commitment to transforming and sustaining communities. She currently serves as trustee of Kent State University, the Thomas White Foundation; Kenneth Scott Foundation; The Great Lakes Museum of Science, Environment and Technology; University Hospitals Health System and the Delta Foundation (Washington, DC). Additionally, she is Mentor/Protégé Program Advisor for Morehouse College (Atlanta, Georgia); and a member of the President’s and the Business School Advisory boards at Hampton University (Hampton, Virginia). Copeland is the National President of The Links, Incorporated (Washington D.C.), and also a member of the Executive Leadership Council (Washington, DC). Link Copeland is active in Delta Sigma Theta sorority, Jack and Jill, and Girlfriends, Inc.
In Link-to-Link (the organization's official newsletter), Link member Edith Hammond revealed a U.S. postal stamp during the organization's thirty-fifth convention on June 28, 2006. The stamp, entitled "Touching Tomorrow Today," marked the sixtieth anniversary of The Links, Incorporated. The illustration of the stamp shows the Links' national headquarters in Washington, D.C. The stamp is the first and only stamp honoring an African-American organization. The side inscription reads the following:
This new "PC Postage" stamp commemorates 60 years of service through friendship by The Links, Incorporated, a not-for-profit organization of more than 10,500 women of color committed to enriching, sustaining, and ensuring the culture and economic survival of children and families of African ancestry by focusing on service to the community.
Hammond, also the designer of the stamp, revealed, "[the stamp] was an honor to create a living legacy."
Donations to Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Through the implementation of the "Central Area HBCU Fund," scholarship funds were donated to historically black college and universities. The endeavor began in 2005 and assisted fourteen institutions. The largest endowed gift made by the Links was $100,000 donated to Fisk University. Shown are below are the fourteen colleges which received endowment:
Parker, Marjorie H. (1982). [1st edition] The History of Links, Incorporated. Washington, D.C.: National Headquarters of The Links, Incorporated. 116 pages. Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN): 82-81579.
Parker, Marjorie H. (1992). [2nd edition] A History of Links, Incorporated. Washington, D.C.: National Headquarters of The Links, Incorporated. 194 pages.