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Tue, 07.21.1896

The National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs is Formed

On this date in 1896, the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs (NACWC) was organized. The merger of the National Federation of Afro-American Women, the Women’s Era Club of Boston, and the Colored Women’s League of Washington, DC, formed it.

The objectives of the NACWC are as follows:
1. To promote the education of women and children
2. To raise the standards of the home
3. To improve conditions for family living
4. To work for the moral, economic, social, and religious welfare of women and children
5. To protect the rights of women and children
6. To secure and enforce civil and political rights for the African American race
7. To promote interracial understanding so that justice may prevail among all people

The NACWC remains a great society of women united for service to raise the standards of the home and extend their service to help make better communities. The activities and contributions of the club women help develop the quality of the life for all people, especially those in the African American community.  Mary Church Terrell was the organization's first president. The NACWC adopted the motto "Lifting as We Climb" to show "an ignorant and suspicious world that our aims and interests are identical with those of all good aspiring women."

Initially, Terrell established an ambitious and forward-thinking agenda for the organization that focused on job training, wage equity, and childcare. The organization raised funds for kindergartens, vocational schools, summer camps, and retirement homes. In addition, the NACWC opposed segregated transportation systems and was a strong and visible supporter of the anti-lynching movement.  In 1912 the organization began a national scholarship fund for college-bound African American women. That same year, it endorsed the suffrage movement two years before its white counterpart, the General Federation of Women's Clubs.

By the middle of the 20th century, nearly every state had a NACWC chapter.  The organization has continued its traditional community-based service projects with equal pay and childcare remaining principal issues. Organized by Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, Terrell, Addie Waite Hunton, Harriet Tubman, Frances E.W. Harper, Ida Bell Wells-Barnett, and others, the NACWC is the oldest African American secular organization in existence today.

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