Mary McLeod Bethune surely would have been one of The Network Journal’s “25 Influential Black Women in Business” honorees were she alive today. Educator extraordinaire, political activist, government official, founder of the National Council of Negro Women, and of the Educational and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls in Daytona Beach, Fla., precursor of Bethune-Cookman College, Bethune embodied the notions of leadership and sisterhood.
Brazenly calling together 28 national women leaders, she created the NCNW in 1935 as an “organization of organizations” that would harness the power of Black women to work with a “unity of purpose and a unity of action.”
The NCNW, she envisioned, would function as “a clearinghouse, facilitating networking and coalition building and advocating the use of collective power on issues affecting women, their families and communities.” For Bethune, it was a matter of meeting the requirements of the day, rather than assuring a personal legacy. Buttressed by this selfless, community-driven mission and equally selfless, community-oriented leadership, the sisterhood of the NCNW endures to this day.
Black female leadership committed to meeting our community’s social, economic and political requirements is still very much in demand today. For the 12th consecutive year, TNJ proudly honors another group of women who have demonstrated the ability and willingness to assume such leadership. In addition to profiling these 25 women in the pages that follow, we salute them this month at our Annual 25 Influential Black Women in Business Awards Luncheon at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel. TNJ stands behind these leaders who have chosen to go the distance in their respective fields.
Standing: (l. to r.): Mavis T. Thompson, National Bar Association; Vy Higgensen, Mama Foundation for the Arts; and Alana Ward Robinson, Robinson Consulting Group Inc.
Seated: (l to r): Donna Sims Wilson, M.R. Beal & Co and Angela E. Guy, SoftSheen-Carson.