National Council of Negro Women

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The Dorothy I. Height Building, headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women, located at 633 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.
National Council of Negro Women
FounderMary McLeod Bethune

The National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) is a non-profit organization with the mission to advance the opportunities and the quality of life for African-American women, their families and communities. NCNW fulfills this mission through research, advocacy, national and community-based services and programs in the United States and Africa. With its 28 national affiliate organizations and its more than 200 community-based sections, NCNW has an outreach to nearly four million women, all contributing to the peaceful solutions to the problems of human welfare and rights. The national headquarters, which acts as a central source for program planning, is based in Washington, D.C., on Pennsylvania Avenue, located between the White House and the U.S. Capitol. NCNW also has two field offices.


The NCNW was founded on December 5th, 1935 by Mary McLeod Bethune,[1] a distinguished educator, and government consultant whose parents were born into slavery . Mary McLeod Bethune saw the need for harnessing the power and extending the leadership of African-American women through a national organization. In The early years of NCNW, the small volunteer staff operated out of Bethune's living room in Washington D.C..[2]

National and international programs[edit]

Some of NCNW's recent programs include:

  • The annual Black Family Reunion Program Celebration
  • Public education and advocacy for African Americans on Supreme Court and lower court nominees
  • Early childhood literacy programs to close the achievement gap
  • A new initiative and publication entitled African American Women As We Age, educates women on health and finances
  • A National obesity abatement initiative
  • A partnership with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to develop Community Learning Centers targeting traditionally underserved students
  • Technical assistance to eight Youth Opportunity Centers in Washington, DC

Some of NCNW's recent international activities include:

  • Maintaining consultative status at the United Nations to represent the voice of African American women
  • Partnering with national women's organizations in Benin to deliver technology, literacy, microcredit and economic empowerment programs
  • Linking youth in Uganda, north Africa and the U.S. in a three-nation educational exchange.

Developing a small business incubator in Senegal

  • Partnering in the implementation of a large microcredit program in Eritrea extending small business loans and training to more than 500 women.[3]

Serving as an umbrella organization for 39 national and local advocacy groups for women of African descent both in the U.S. and abroad, the National Council of Negro Women coordinates its activities with partners in 34 states. The Council also runs four research and policy centers in its efforts to develop best practices in addressing the health, educational, and economic needs of African-American women. In 2007, NCNW's administrative costs were an estimated $4 million of the organization's group’s $6 million budget for programs.

National Black Family Reunion[edit]

NCNW organizes the National Black Family Reunion, a two-day cultural event celebrating the enduring strengths and traditional values of the African American fathers.[2]

National Chairs of NCNW[edit]

Executive Directors of NCNW[edit]

Uncommon Height Awards[edit]

As of 2016:[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mary McLeod Bethune with a Line of Girls from the School". World Digital Library. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  2. ^ a b Mjagkij, Nina, ed. (2001). Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc. p. 447.
  3. ^ "National Council of Negro Women". Retrieved 2008-02-29.
  4. ^ "Honorees", NCNW webpage. Retrieved 2011-08-05.

Further reading[edit]

  • Julie A. Gallagher. "The National Council of Negro Women, Human Rights, and the Cold War," in Laughlin, Kathleen A., and Jacqueline L. Castledine, eds., Breaking the Wave: Women, Their Organizations, and Feminism, 1945–1985 (Routledge, 2011) pp. 80–98

External links[edit]