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In the winter of 1970 in New York City, 24 Black women, led by visionary Edna Beach, began meeting in their homes to assess the problems and opportunities left behind in the wake of the turbulent 1960s. As a result of their meetings, they formed the Coalition of 100 Black Women. For the rest of the 1970s, they slowly but persistently worked to master root causes of issues that affected their families, their communities and themselves. They boldly began to reach out to other Black women in common cause, and eventually, mobilized their emerging stature as a visible force of influence promoting gender and racial equity.
In 1981, the New York Coalition had over 500 members throughout New York City’s metropolitan area, far in excess of the symbolic “100” in its title. Its effective role-model projects and its association with grass-roots community activity won notice in both local and national news media. As the Coalition gained recognition, Black women from other parts of the country aspired to duplicate its mission and programs in their own geographic areas.
In 1981, it decided to create a national organization, to expand beyond the boundaries of New York City, and, accordingly, to include the term “National” in the original title. The National Coalition of 100 Black Women(NCBW) was launched on October 24, 1981, with representatives from 14 states and the District of Columbia, with Jewell Jackson McCabe as its first national president. The rapidity by which the organization grew is attested to by the statistics of 1986: 47 chapters in 19 states, with a membership of 3,000.
The national movement has garnered more than 6,000 members over the years throughout 60 chapters representing 25 states and the District of Columbia. The stated purposes of the Coalition are:
- To foster principles of equal rights and opportunities
- To promote the awareness of Black culture
- To develop the potential of the membership for effective leadership and participation in civic affairs
- To take action on specific issues of national and international importance
- To cooperate with other persons and organizations to achieve mutual goals
The Coalition has set the following as target areas for program development over the coming years:
- Legislative Analysis and Voter Mobilization
- Economic Development
- Personal and Professional Development
- Role Model/Mentor Projects
- Influencing and Shaping Public and Private Policy
- Local and national advocacy to eliminate HIV-AIDS and its ravaging impacts on girls, women and communities of color
- Promoting Economic Empowerment of Black Women through wealth building strategies, retirement planning, advocacy for pay equity and related changes to social security
- Facilitating Personal and Professional Development of NCBW Members and our constituents
- Promoting Role Model/Mentor Projects for young women and other working women
- Increasing Access to Higher Education for working moms and women of color
- Participating in Research to Define Solutions to Teen and Unplanned Pregancies in communities of color
- Increasing awareness of, and furthering actions to, close the gender gap in health, education and economic development
- Supporting Worldwide Efforts for Elimination of Gender-Based Violence and Discrimination Against Women in All Forms
To achieve its targeted goals, the NCBW works to develop alliances with leadership from corporate, civic, political and government entities and to build a consensus among special interest groups. Moreover, the Coalition, created to serve as the eyes, ears and voice for all Black women, positions itself as a complement to the strong heritage of existing Black women’s organizations that share its goals.