Black women’s clubs have a long and rich history in the United States, dating back to the late 19th century. These clubs were founded by women who were seeking civic engagement, social justice, and community empowerment in the face of racial and gender discrimination.
“Black women began organizing to force our country to live up to its ideals from the time of its founding,” Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. explains.
“During Reconstruction, a new generation picked up the mantle, expanding their mission, and by the last decade of the century, their well-known slogan captured the communal spirit of the women’s club movement.”
That slogan and central principle: “Lifting as we climb.”
Established in 1896, one of the earliest Black women’s clubs was the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), whose founders included Harriet Tubman, Frances E.W. Harper, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Mary Church Terrell. The NACW was key in promoting education and advocating for equal rights, suffrage, fair employment, and better working conditions.
Daina Ramey Berry of the University of Texas, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham of Harvard University, and Imani Perry of Princeton University discuss this movement in American history in this episode of Black History in Two Minutes or So.
Watch these related videos next:
• The 1913 women’s suffrage march on Washington D.C.
• Dorothy Bolden, a leader for fair wages and better working conditions
• The Fight for Fair Housing in Milwaukee: Vel Phillips and James Groppi
• Shirley Chisholm, the First Black Congresswoman
• Reconstruction: The Vote – Black History in Two Minutes (or So)