NCNW History

The National Council of Negro Women, Inc. (NCNW) is a council of national African American women’s organizations and community-based sections founded on December 5, 1935 by Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955), a child of slave parents, distinguished educator, human rights activist, political leader and government consultant. As Advisor of Minority Affairs to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Mrs. Bethune said that she could not rest to see the unharnessed womanpower among our women. She envisioned a “national organization of organizations: with a “unity of purpose and a unity of action” much like the United Nations that would represent the national and international concerns of Black women. Mary Church Terrell proposed forming a “council.” Thus, Mrs. Bethune founded the National Council of Negro Women with 28 national women leaders responding to bring organizations together under one umbrella. The council of autonomous national organizations would function as a clearinghouse, facilitating networking and coalition-building, and advocating the use of collective power on issues affecting Black women and give them the opportunity to realize their goals for social justice and human rights united constructive action.

With a mission to lead, develop and advocate for women of African descent asthey support their families and communities, NCNW fulfills this mission through research, advocacy and national and community-based service and programs on issues of human welfare, health, education and economic empowerment in the United States and Africa.

NCNW is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, non-partisan, voluntary membership service organization with an outreach to nearly four million women through a council of 39 national affiliate African American women’s organizations and more than 240 community-based sections in 34 states and internationally. NCNW national African American organizations include college-based sororities, professional associations and civic and social groups.

NCNW Translates its philosophy of public education, community service and advocacy into programs and activities designed to promote a number of benefits for constituents including:

  • National and International Programs
  • Disseminating information about issues affecting African American women, their families and their communities
  • Promoting healthy lifestyles and behaviors through wellness projects
  • Sponsoring events, such as the Black Family Reunion Celebration, to build on strengths and traditional values
  • Training and supporting women and youth in career development and community leadership
  • Supporting economic development and entrepreneurship
  • Providing mentoring and educational support to young people