According to textbooks, the American Civil Rights Movement began in 1954 and ended in 1968. Those not familiar with this area may think this moment was a simple victory. By the end of this revolutionary crusade, the American Constitution – the law of the land – outlawed every form of racial discrimination.
Unfortunately, changes in legislation and legal precedent could not establish the much-needed infrastructure for African Americans to take full advantage of their hard-earned, newfound freedom.
Fortunately, strong and educated black women emerged as leaders to provide hope in these uncertain times. After playing such a crucial role in the victories against racial discrimination, they were primed to confront these post-Civil Rights Movement predicaments.
In 1981, some of these empowered black women formed the National Coalition of 100 Black Women (NCBW). The NBCW carries out its mission
“Our chapter is identical to our National Chapter Mission: To impact local communities in the area of leadership development, education, health, and economic and political empowerment,” Mary Lively, 2nd Vice President of NCBW, Prince William County Chapter (PWCC) explained.
A Movement of their Own
Established in 2012 under the leadership of Dr. Alice Howard, NCBW/PWCC President and Organizer, the Prince William County Chapter is already the Coalition’s second largest chapter nationwide.
"21 awesome women came from the Northern Virginia chapter, where I was serving at that time as President,” Dr. Howard explained. “We resided in Prince William, but were commuting to and from Arlington. That was not our home. Our home is in Prince William County, therefore, we charted a chapter in Prince William County to serve the constituents where we live. The National Past President, Mrs. Dee Dee Strum stated to an audience that, where it normally takes two years to get a program of this magnitude started, Dr. Howard did it in nine months. This could not have been done by myself, it took 20 other women who came with me to PWCC to get the organization started.”
Today, NCBW/PWCC is 121 members and counting, working multiple angles so that, each year, hundreds of local black women and girls – along with their families – have access to key resources.
“Our goal is to continue to address the critical dimensions of education, health, political and economic development that affects our community,” Lively said. “The Signature Programs we provide both promote and improve gender equity, inclusion, respect, racial and social justice, integrity, economic empowerment, and political awareness.”
Their Signature Programs include, but are not limited to, mentorship programs in elementary and middle schools, scholarship programs so that young black women can attend college, and health awareness campaigns focused on issues prevalent in the black community.
NCBW/PWCC is successful in all of their endeavors in large part due to the nature of its composition. The women who become a part of this organization are community leaders and accomplished – even award-winning – experts in a number of fields.
“We look for people to join who can really add to the programs we run and the causes we champion,” Dr. Howard said. “This is not a social organization. If you're not willing to roll up your sleeves and work, then you don't belong in this organization. If you've never made a contribution to your constituents, you're not the kind of woman we're looking for. Our members have won awards for making changes in their communities.”
A Healthier Outlook for Prince William County
With its smart, effective formula for growth that allows for continued successful goal execution, NBCW/PWCC has been a key part of Potomac Health Foundation’s (PHC) mission to confront and take down of the most common – and often, preventable – killers in the Prince William Community.
"We have educated thousands of black women and men on Triple-Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC), prostate cancer and colorectal cancer,” Dr. Howard explained. “In 2015, we received funding from PHF in the amount of $78,000, with matching funds from the community totaling $5,000 plus. The results of this particular grant were awesome and published.” Our Sponsors and Partners over the last five years contributions have exceeded $45,000.
The Fall 2014/2016 edition of JOCEPS, the medical journal of Chi Eta Phi Sorority – a professional association for registered professional nurses and student nurses – published the official summary, results and conclusions of NCBW/PWCC’s 2015 program, which ultimately exceeded the PHF’s expectation for the group to educate 450 black women about TNBC.
NCBW/PWCC actually worked with more than 500 women by addressing congregations of multiple black churches in Prince William County and surrounding communities. This incredibly effective strategy produced the data and results that Sentara Health has previously been lacking. The findings were so important because TNBC – a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer – is significantly more prevalent for black women than for those of other racial and ethnic groups.
The JOCEP-published study also was able to conclude without question that “black women can benefit from culturally appropriate educational programs about TNBC. Increasing knowledge about TNBC can save lives and prevent the harmful consequences associated with this disease among black women.”
The NCBW/PWCC projects that followed the overwhelmingly successful TNBC study have also been successful and currently await publication in influential medical journals.
With their two following PHF grants, the ladies of NCBW/PWCC educated black men on prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer, respectively. Through both of these projects, NCBW/PWCC either met or exceeded the target number of people they set out to educate.
“We are closing out our colon cancer project, but we have already received a grant award of $98,000 to educate families on Prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes for the next fiscal year,” Dr. Howard said.
Dr. Howard added that, as impressive and driven as the ladies are that make up NCBW/PWCC, they would not have achieved what they have for the PHF without their corporate, medical, and church partners.
“We are educators, doctors and lawyers, and we do have some medical personnel part of our chapter,” Dr. Howard said. “However, we are not medical doctors. Therefore, we utilize the expertise in these three areas of [TNBC, Prostate Cancer, and Colon Cancer] from certified physicians from Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center. We have established an excellent working bond with the Potomac Health Foundation and Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.”
The ladies of NCBW/PWCC also said that there is no way to discuss the highly-sought after results and outcomes of the health awareness campaigns and studies without their church partners* – that welcomed them before their congregations – as well as their corporate partners who offered necessary funding and support.**
“We cannot perform this work in isolation,” Dr. Howard reiterated, adding that NCBW/PWCC has helped other PHF grant award winners get in front of black church congregations for their own initiatives. “One of the things that the PHF impress upon awardees is that we assist each other,” Dr. Howard said. “For example, we supported the American Heart Association’s by allowing them to present their training sessions at the end of our workshops.
Although the NCBW/PWCC focus is on black females, there really is no limit to the people NCBW/PWCC serve, or to the projects they will take on. The leadership knows they must stay flexible and dynamic so that one day, the soil of their society will be fertile with resources and support for hardworking women whose goals involve making the world a better place for countless generations to follow.
Respectfully Submitted By:
Mrs. Mary R. Lively, 2nd Vice President, Mrs. Meschelle Williams, Executive Team Member and Dr. Alice H. Howard, President