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National Council of Negro Women Chapter launched on campus


The new campus chapter of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) at UNC Pembroke met on October 4.

Eight undergraduates represented the group whose mission is to “lead, develop and advocate for women of African descent.”

The 75-year-old NCNW has a proud history and the letter chartering the chapter at UNCP was signed by one of the most famous women of the Civil Rights movement, the late Dorothy Height.

Chapter President Gwendolyn Lee said she would endeavor to build a chapter worthy of NCNW’s history.

“It’s very important to me personally to show others on campus what the NCNW is about,” Lee said. “It’s an amazing organization with an amazing history.”

The chapter wasted no time working on their mission. They started fundraising with a dinner raffle and they will begin the all-important task of membership recruitment.

“My plan is to recruit more young ladies to the council,” said Lee. “I’m a senior, so it’s important to leave a chapter that will continue.”

Faculty advisor Dr. Frankie Denise Powell, who teaches in the School of Education, is a diamond lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., which entitled her to membership in NCNW. She said the organization and its leaders have a long and illustrious history.

“Dorothy Height’s funeral was in the National Cathedral, and President Obama memorialized her,” Dr. Powell said. “I am proud to be both the recipient and progenitor of the legacy of this organization that has been at the helm of women’s leadership for more than 70 years.  

“We will keep the charter in the Special Collections section of the library,” Dr. Powell said.

Dr. Powell has high hopes for the local chapter.

“I hope that the UNCP chapter will grow in number and that it will deepen its understanding of the vision of NCNW,” Dr. Powell said. “I also hope the chapter will increase its ability to implement the programs of NCNW.”

Anne Coleman, assistant dean of the Mary Livermore Library, brought the framed charter letter.

“Dorothy Height is truly a legend,” Coleman said. “She passed away not long after signing our charter.”

Coleman worked with the NCNW at Allen University in Columbia, S.C., so she is familiar with it. She said the organization builds leadership skills in its members.

“I appreciate the way the organization focuses on the personal and professional development of young African American women by affording them the opportunity to function in leadership roles through chapter activities,” she said. “They get many growth opportunities by working on the different initiatives in education, health and finance that are promoted by the national organization.”

During the chartering ceremony,the members presented several short plays for freshmen on the “dos and don’ts” of campus life. In November, they will sponsor a fashion show.

“It will be a modeling show of how to dress for success, for a job interview or a first date,” Lee said. “It’s important to have a professional image.”

The chapter also attended Fayetteville State University’s NCNW member induction ceremony.

“FSU has an established chapter, so we wanted to see how they do things,” Lee said. “It was very, very impressive.”

Role models abound within the NCNW, Coleman said.

“You cannot ask for better role models than (NCNW founder) Mary McLeod Bethune and Dorothy Height,” she said. “If the young women at UNCP get to walk in their shoes for only a little while, the experience will be invaluable. Just learning about these great African American women pioneers is awe-inspiring.”

Dr. Powell agreed: “There is a need for young women to ‘unite and activate the legacy.” She continued, “This is not a niche organization; just look in the White House.”