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Strategic SisterhoodThe National Council of Negro Women in the Black Freedom Struggle$
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Rebecca Tuuri

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469638904

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469638904.001.0001

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Maneuvering for the Movement

Maneuvering for the Movement

The World of Broker Politics in the NCNW, 1935–1963

(p.12) Chapter One Maneuvering for the Movement
Strategic Sisterhood

Rebecca Tuuri

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter explores the first three decades of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW). In 1935, educator, clubwoman, and politician Mary McLeod Bethune founded the NCNW as an organization of black women's organizations to create a united lobbying voice. By utilizing a strategy of broker politics, the NCNW opened up professional opportunities for black women and lobbied for civil rights legislation. NCNW women also enforced strict standards of respectability as they sought such power. While the NCNW claimed to speak on behalf of all black women, a majority of its membership came from black sororities. This college-based membership, as well as the council's focus on black professionalization, meant that many working class women viewed the organization as elitist and uninterested in their concerns. However, beginning in the mid 1950s and continuing through the 1960s, the NCNW became more significantly involved in civil rights and the needs of the poor.

Keywords:   Broker politics, Mary McLeod Bethune, Dorothy Height, Respectability politics, black sororities, black professionals, National Council of Negro Women, Dissemblance, Tradition of testimony, NCNW

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