- Faith & Family
National Council of Negro Women provides community aid
There is an unfortunate myth that women, due to frequent backstabbing, petty bickering and multiple jealousies, find it difficult to work together. However, for 22 years the Metropolitan Dade Section of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) has taken exception to that belief and proven it to be false.
“The main purpose of this organization [is] bringing together women for the good of other women,” said Alma Brown, the local section’s president.
With more than 50 members representing a range of income levels, professions and ages, the women of the local chapter of NCNW have provided educational programs such as their annual HBCU College Forum, a mentoring program for students; the Umbrella Award Luncheon, a dinner honoring the contributions of local Black women; and their AIDS Awareness Day health fairs.
Last year in June, the City of Miami even honored the organization for their efforts by proclaiming it the Metropolitan Dade Section of the NCNW’s AIDS Day.
The power of a woman
Although the local chapter of the NCNW has been active in the community for more than two decades, the reason they were called together actually occurred 77 years ago.
Back then the organization of National Council of Negro Women was founded by the education pioneer Mary McLeod Bethune, the founder of Bethune-Cookman University. She wanted to create a council that would bring together autonomous national organizations to work to improve women’s lives, according to NCNW archives. On the national level, the organization sponsors a host of initiatives including the National Black Family Reunion, held annually on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The NCNW “legacy has always been about engaging women of African descent with their communities, connecting them with one another and discovering what you can do to help,” Brown said.
The organization boasts proudly of notable Black women in its ranks including the “Godmother of the Civil Rights” Dorothy Height, who served as the national president for several decades. Here in South Florida, the local section of the NCNW has drawn its fair share of distinguished women — Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson and community activist Nancy Dawkins, the widow of former Miami Commissioner Miller Dawkins, are just two examples.
Dawkins, who is now in her 80s, joined a branch of the NCNW while she was attending Bethune-Cookman College (now University) in the 1950s. She has been an active member ever since.
“When I joined, it was an organization that introduced us to different opportunities,” she recalled. “They were fighting for women’s rights and encouraging young people to get an education.”
“The biggest obstacles that Black women are facing today is access to quality health care because a lot of the women in our economy are not employed and they don’t have health insurance,” said Kameelah Brown, the Dade section’s second vice-president and daughter of Alma Brown.
The president of the NCNW’s local section explained that one of their biggest goals now is to increase membership.
“I would like to have members that are committed and dedicated to doing for our day what Dr. Bethune and Dr. Height did during their lifetimes. If we could have that kind of perseverance then we could really move forward,” Brown said.
By Kaila Heard