Critical Concerns Impacting Black Women

with Shavon Arline-Bradley of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW)

For nearly 90 years, the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) has worked to advance opportunities and quality of life for women of African descent.

Shavon Arline-Bradley,President and CEOof the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), joins host Tetiana Anderson to discuss the organization’s “core four” —priority programs grounded on a foundation of critical concerns.

Posted on:

January 31, 2024

Hosted by: Tetiana Anderson
Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Anderson: Influential educator Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune was an activist who fought for the advancement of Black Americans, especially Black women. Recognizing a need for unity and action led her to create the National Council of Negro Women in 1935. Hello, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Tetiana Anderson. For more than 50 years, Dr. Dorothy Height was president of the National Council of Negro Women. Working closely with Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune and others, they addressed critical issues that affected the quality of life for African American women, their families, and their communities. Nearly 90 years later, the organization's mission remains the same. Joining me to talk all about this is Shavon Arline-Bradley. She is the President and CEO of the National Council of Negro Women, or NCNW. Shavon, thank you so much for being here.

Arline-Bradley: It's wonderful to be with you.

Anderson: So, as we just heard, the organization has a rich mission and a history. Why, though, after all these years, is the mission the same?

Arline-Bradley: Well, in 1935, when Dr. Bethune gathered a little over 20 African American women's organizations, she was fighting for issues around voting, economic access, and education. And now, present day, we find ourselves still fighting for those same rights to ensure that our communities have access to the same rights as others. And Black women seem to be on the top of those lists.

Anderson: So, today, to serve your core population, you are focusing on something you call the core four, and we're talking about health equity, education, economic justice, and social justice. And within these priorities, I'm wondering, what's the most urgent, and what you're doing to address it?

Arline-Bradley: Yeah, we're really looking at equal pay for Black women, where we find 65 cents on a dollar is made by Black women, in comparison to their counterparts, but also issues around healthcare, access to education, and jobs. We are now pushing out programs that will ensure that women of African descent have access and are able to prepare an opportunity for the future.

Anderson: You guys call yourself an organization of organizations, in part because it really takes a big network to get the job done that you all are doing. So I'm wondering if you can explain what that means and how you actually execute all this work.

Arline-Bradley: Well, that phrase was coined by Dr. Bethune. And what she said was, "I want to bring together the women of our community to ensure that we're able to connectively use this network." Well, we are using now from 22 to 35 national Black women's organizations. Sororities in the Divine Nine, faith leaders, and other organizations have aligned with us. And now, we have reached over 2 million women because we have over 340 campus and community-based sections. So, we are networked and we are together.

Anderson: And you are also the first president and CEO of NCNW in its history. As you sort of chart a path forward for your tenure, and with this new organizational structure, what are your plans for the future?

Arline-Bradley: Well, you know, our plan is to stay another 88 years. Our goal is to ensure that we lead, educate, and empower women of African descent and their families. We are now pushing to change our infrastructure, we're mobilizing our people, we're advancing policy, and we're revitalizing our programs. Our plan is to ensure that NCNW is present in households across this country, and also to go international. We're expanding, just like Dr. Height did in the '60s. So more to come from NCNW.

Anderson: Important work. And I know people are going to want to know more. So what is your website? Where can they look?

Arline-Bradley: Well, this is the fun part. We want everyone to log on our website. You'll see our social-media access. And we also want folks to know that NCNW is available for children and even men. So we are one community connected around these issues.

Anderson: Shavon Arline-Bradley of the National Council of Negro Women. Thank you so much for being here.

Arline-Bradley: Thank you for having me.

Anderson: And thanks to you, as well, for watching. As always, for more great conversations with leaders in your own community and across the nation, visit I'm Tetiana Anderson.

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