Thursday, February 21, 2019
History of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs, Inc., ca 1975. Records of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs, Inc. Courtesy of Schlesinger LibraryHistory of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs, Inc., ca 1975. Records of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs, Inc. Courtesy of Schlesinger Library

The National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc. was established in 1935. One of its primary purposes was “to promote and protect the interests of business and professional women and promote good fellowship among them.” A social and civic organization, the NANBPWC planned and promoted programs that supported community building efforts. In 1929, E. Odessa Young organized the New York Club. She had a vision for the first local club dedicated to professional women of color to become a national organization, but due to illness, Young was not able to complete her vision. Fortunately, other women under the leadership of Ollie Chinn Porter called for the national expansion of the organization.

Program from the 1945 Testimonial Dinner held in Charlotte Hawkins' Brown's honor. Papers of Charlotte Hawkins Brown. Courtesy of Schlesinger LibraryProgram from the 1945 Testimonial Dinner held in Charlotte Hawkins' Brown's honor. Papers of Charlotte Hawkins Brown. Courtesy of Schlesinger LibraryDuring World War II the NANBPWC further expanded by officially affiliating with interracial and other national organizations like National Federation of Business and Professional Women; the National Council of Negro Women, Inc.; the National Council of Scientific, Professional, Art and White-Collar Organizations; and the National Organization of Negro Nationals. Additionally, the national organ, Responsibility, was first published in 1943. Also, NANBPWC supported a national Children’s’ Book Week Campaign, the American Cancer Society, the Food for Freedom, Inc., the World Alliance of International Friendship, and the Pan-Pacific Women’s Association.

In 1945, the New York Club of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc. honored educator Charlotte Hawkins Brown for her contribution to humanity. Mary McLeod Bethune, Walter White, and William C. Handy were among many of Brown’s well-wishers. Brown, the founder of the Alice Freeman Palmer Institute, a school for African Americans in Sedalia, North Carolina, had demonstrated her service to the community through her work both within and outside of the institute. She had served as an advisor to the Secretary of the Navy during World War II, the American Red Cross, and the National Council of Negro Women. She was a board member on the Southern Council for Human Welfare. Brown was the first member of NANBPWC to pay for her life membership.

The faculty and student body of the Palmer Memorial Institute sent Brown these words in honor of the occasion: “We celebrate with you tonight the recognition of forty-five years of devoted service for the educational, spiritual, and cultural development of Negro youth the results of which will be revealed more and more in the years ahead.”

Congratulatory telegram from the faculty and staff of the Palmer Institute. Papers of Charlotte Hawkins Brown. Courtesy of Schlesinger LibraryCongratulatory telegram from the faculty and staff of the Palmer Institute. Papers of Charlotte Hawkins Brown. Courtesy of Schlesinger Library

Find more information about the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc.  and Charlotte Hawkins Brown at the Schlesinger Library. 

 

Author: 
By Kenvi C. Phillips