The late Emma Odessa Young, a realtor from New York City and a member of the New York Club of Business and Professional Women, conceived the idea of a national organization of business and professional women in 1934. Unfortunately, Mrs. Young became an invalid and never sought to head the organization. Although an invalid, Mrs. Young’s mind was alert and her interest keen. She was satisfied to witness the progress of the organization before her passing in 1944.
In July of 1935, Mrs. Ollie Chinn Porter, president of the New York Club, extended an invitation to local clubs, organized as Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, to join and form a national organization.
The Founders were Emma Odessa Young, Ollie Chinn Porter and Effie Diton of New York City; Bertha Perry Rhodes, Josephine B. Keene and Adelaide Flemming of Philadelphia; and Pearl Flippen of Atlantic City.
After a year of meetings, the first convention was held in Atlantic City, New Jersey on July 9-11, 1936, at the Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church on Artic Avenue. Elected as the first national president was Mrs. Ollie Chinn Porter. The aim of this newly formed national organization was then, as it is today, to attract women of high caliber to organize similar clubs within their communities. Facing the realities of the times, their daring and inspiring goals were to share their experiences and exchange information; to protect their interest and to encourage and develop opportunities for black women in businesses and professions.
During this time in our history, black people were called “Negroes”. Very few had businesses or professions. Many were still deep in the throes of the depression. The fact that these black women had the courage to found such an optimistic organization is astounding and a lasting testimony to their faith in themselves, our people, and the future.
The Founders were owners, managers, college graduates, and other professionally licensed women, who had managed to realize some measure of personal success, at a time when there was not a national movement to improve the lot of black Americans; where there was no black capitalism program, nor any black studies curricula. Still, these women felt prepared to offer leadership.
- Over the years, NANBPWC, Inc. has grown in numbers and scope, conducting many needed community service activities that go far beyond the original purpose. Women have come a long way and so has NANBPWC, Inc