Civil Rights

The National Association of Colored Women

The National Association of Colored Women (NACW) was founded in 1896 as a coalition of African American women’s clubs and organizations. The NACW aimed to promote the rights and interests of black women, especially in the areas of education, suffrage, civil rights, and social welfare. The NACW also sought to challenge the negative stereotypes and discrimination that black women faced in American society.

The NACW was formed as a result of the merger of two groups: the National Federation of Afro-American Women and the National League of Colored Women. The leaders of these groups, such as Mary Church Terrell, Ida B. Wells, Frances E.W. Harper, and Harriet Tubman, became the founding members and officers of the NACW. The motto of the NACW was “Lifting as we climb”, which reflected their vision of uplifting the status and dignity of black women through collective action and mutual support.

This photo from a 1922 edition of the Crisis Magazine pictures Mrs. Talbert with other former presidents of the National Association of Colored Women.

The NACW organized national conventions every two years, where they discussed various issues affecting black women and their communities, such as lynching, segregation, health care, labor rights, and temperance. The NACW also established local chapters and affiliated clubs across the country, which engaged in various activities and projects, such as running schools, libraries, orphanages, homes for the elderly, and settlement houses. The NACW also participated in national campaigns and movements, such as the anti-lynching crusade, the women’s suffrage movement, the civil rights movement, and the World War I effort.

The NACW was one of the most influential and prominent organizations of black women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It played a significant role in shaping the history and culture of African Americans and women in general. The NACW also inspired the formation of other organizations, such as the National Council of Negro Women and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The NACW continues to exist today as the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, with a mission to “foster civic improvement through education and community service”.

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