The National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs Inc. will reopen its District of Columbia headquarters at 4 p.m. tomorrow after seven months of renovations. It oversees a nationwide organization of 826 clubs that sponsor programs on youth, health, women’s and social issues. Many of the rural clubs will provide transportation on Election Day to and from voting locations.
For its 100th anniversary in 1996, NACWC compiled the following list:
Black women’s achievements
1830s: Prior to the women’s suffrage movement, black female abolitionists form numerous anti-slavery and literary societies for the moral and religious improvement and education of black youths.
1851: Sojourner Truth, abolitionist and orator, delivers her famous speech “Ain’t I a Woman?” to the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention.
1892: Booker T. Washington, educator and reformer, begins the annual Tuskegee Conferences to assist blacks “in their industrial, educational, moral and religious life.” Black women begin to form their own groups, one of the first being the Colored Women’s League, organized in the District.
1894: The Colored Women’s League is incorporated.
1895: The first national conference of black women, known as the National Federation of Afro-American Women, is held in Boston. Delegates from 10 states and 20 clubs attend. The Federation consolidates with the Colored Women’s League in 1896 to form the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs.
1897: The first conference of the NACWC is held in Nashville, with 66 delegates representing 26 clubs. Notes becomes the first official publication of NACWC, and eventually the publication becomes known as the National Notes. The magazine is an outgrowth of a fact sheet published by Mrs. Booker T. Washington.
1920: The Women’s Suffrage Amendment is adopted. The black vote is increasing in value because of escalating populations in larger cities such as New York, Philadelphia and Chicago.
1928: NACWC acquires its first headquarters building at 1114 O St., NW. The building becomes one of the first centralized facilities to provide employment training and support for low-income black women in the District. Groups of community youths receive tutoring and leadership skills through programs developed and operated in the building. The building’s acquisition is an outstanding achievement of Mary McLeod Bethune, the eighth national president of NACWC.
1929: The Depression years begin. During the next five years, there is high black unemployment and increased competition between blacks and whites for jobs. The willingness of white workers to take jobs formerly regarded as black jobs and the readiness of some employers to replace blacks with white workers force many black families onto public-relief rolls.
Black women had especially menial jobs. Three out of five women worked in domestic and personal service. Their wages were disturbingly low and their working conditions were below average standards. the New Deal improved their conditions somewhat.
1930: The National Association of Colored Girls Clubs is formed. Its purpose is to help girls become industrious, artistic, gracious and deserving, and to improve their working conditions. Guidelines are provided on how to be good mothers and maintain good homes.
1954: The O Street headquarters is sold and the old French Embassy, a five-story building at 1601 R St., NW, is purchased for $72,000 as the association’s new headquarters.
1963: The NACWC moves to a more residential and community-based location. The organization buys a new headquarters building on 5816 16th St., NW, while retaining the R Street building. The R Street building is rented out for a time.
1974: NACWC sponsors a banquet in honor of the four black Democratic women elected to the U.S. Congress: Yvonne Braithwaite Burke (California), Shirley Chisholm (New York), Cardiss Collins (Illinois) and Barbara Jordan (Texas).
1996: NACWC celebrates its 100th anniversary.
2000: NACWC sells its 16th Street headquarters to help raise funds to renovate and restore the R Street building. The Oct. 28 reopening is timed to help get out the vote for the Nov. 7 elections.