Historical Milestones

The Links, Incorporated is an organization of accomplished, dedicated women who are active in our community. Members are newsmakers, role models, mentors, activists and volunteers who work toward the realization of making the name “Links” not only a chain of friendship, but also a chain of purposeful service.

Founders and National Presidents of The Links, Incorporated

1946 - The Philadelphia Club

On the evening of November 9, 1946, Sarah Scott and Margaret Hawkins, two young Philadelphia matrons, invited seven of their friends to join them in organizing a new type of inter-city club.

This organizing meeting of The Links was not a spontaneous action. In 1945, Link Hawkins had conceived the idea of a group of clubs composed of friends along the eastern seaboard and had spent many hours with Link Scott in thinking,

planning and discussing the possibilities of such an endeavor. The two women envisioned an organization that would respond to the needs and aspirations of Black women in ways that existing clubs did not. It was their intent the club would have a threefold aim--civic, educational, and cultural. Based on these aims, the club would implement programs, which its founders hoped would foster cultural appreciation through the arts; develop richer inter-group relations; and help women who participated to understand and accept their social and civic responsibilities.

Besides the two founders, the original members of the Philadelphia Club were Links Frances Atkinson, Katie Green, Marion Minton, Lillian Stanford, Myrtle Manigault Stratton, Lillian Wall, and Dorothy Wright. The club elected Margaret Hawkins as president, Sarah Scott as vice president, Myrtle Manigault Stratton as recording secretary, Frances Atkinson as corresponding secretary, and Dorothy Wright as treasurer.

1979 - Establishment of The Links Foundation, Incorporated

The Links Foundation, Incorporated is the philanthropic arm of The Links, Incorporated and was established in 1979 to enhance and expand the philanthropic endeavors of The Links, Incorporated.

The Foundation provides grants for innovative programs that address problems to be solved, or opportunities to be seized that are of regional, national or international significance. The Foundation seeks proposals that provide creative responses to the changing needs in the general fields of health, education, social services, cultural and international affairs that are beneficial to communities of African descent.

Contributions of more than $24 million dollars have been given to charitable causes since its founding. In 2006, at its 60th Anniversary National Assembly in Philadelphia, PA, The Links Foundation, Incorporated named its third $1 million dollar grantee – the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. Other million-dollar grantees include the United Negro College Fund and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

The Links Foundation, Incorporated is a non-profit corporation operated exclusively for charitable and educational purposes within the meaning of Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, as amended.

2006 - National Childhood Obesity Initiative

The adoption of the Childhood Obesity Resolution at the 35th National Assembly in 2006 signified The Links, Incorporated’s recognition of the need for targeted intervention strategies that address and produce sustained results among African-American children battling obesity. The Southern Area’s success in launching this program gave root to the National Childhood Obesity Initiative.

With a purpose of developing and implementing strategies targeted to the specific health needs of African-American children, this initiative has been embraced to give a greater voice and sustainability to the health and well-being of our children. The Links, Incorporated plans to increase awareness and heighten understanding surrounding the multi-dimensional issues that contribute to obesity in African-American children. Additional goals are to: develop an action-oriented agenda for disseminating key messages that aid in the prevention of childhood obesity among African-American children and to establish approaches that will strengthen collaborative networks regarding obesity prevention to sustain on-going health initiatives.

Please visit www.linksincsaccop.com for more information on our Childhood Obesity Initiative.

Founders of The Links, Incorporated

1948 - Establishment of The Southern Area

The Southern Area of The Links, Incorporated came into existence in 1948 with the organizing of the sixth Links club. The establishment of this group came after more than a year of intense planning and activity by the founders of The Links, Incorporated, Links Sarah Scott and Margaret Hawkins, and their seven friends of the Philadelphia Club. They felt that it was time to expand their organization into the south.

In 1954, The Links, Incorporated was decentralized into four geographic areas: Eastern, Southern, Central, and Western. Chapter growth was maintained by having existing chapters sponsor chapters in other cities. The Southern Area currently consists of 77 chapters in seven states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina) and the Bahamas (the Republic of South Africa chapter retired in 2004). Prior to 1965 West Virginia and Texas were part of the Southern Area. Of the 13 National Presidents, 5 were elected president while residing in the Southern Area.

Southern Area is supportive of both the National programmatic thrust: Creating Substantive and Sustainable Programs and the Southern Area Theme: Linking Our Actions Today With Our Dreams for Tomorrow. The goal of The Southern Area of The Links, Incorporated is to support and enhance chapters’ efforts to provide substantive and sustainable programs. Through the program facets and initiatives and in collaboration with other organizations, the area chapters develop and implement programs to address the educational, social, economic, and health needs/disparities of people of African ancestry in our local and global communities. The more than 2,500 members are encouraged to share and pool their resources as well as identify and leverage others to effectuate the desired changes. Each year thousands of individuals and hundreds of communities throughout the seven states and the Bahamas benefit from our programs.

Childhood Obesity Initiative

The Southern Area’s membership was called to action to address childhood obesity, a public health epidemic that poses the greatest threat to the health and well being of children and their families. In keeping with the organization’s health resolution to address childhood obesity and in response to its disproportionate effects on the communities we serve (African American and low income children in the southeastern United States), the Southern Area Director, Link Mary F. Currie, announced the Southern Area Focused Initiative: Childhood Obesity. The initiative was officially launched with its partnership with the southeastern affiliate of the American Heart Association (AHA). Through comprehensive and integrated programming of its chapters, the collective efforts of its members and its collaboration with the AHA, the Southen Area is working to help reduce and eliminate the incidences of childhood obesity by promoting education and awareness, particularly among children, and working to have positive, significant and sustained impact on the issue at hand.

Please visit www.linksincsaccop.com for more information on our Childhood Obesity Initiative.

Chapter Organizers and Charter Members

1985 - The Sojourners Service Club

The conception of the Dade County (FL) Chapter of the Links, Inc. began on February 26, 1985, when organizer Jessie Stinson wrote a letter seeking information about the possibility of establishing an additional chapter of the Links in the Greater Miami area.

During the month of March 1985, Jessie Stinson received an application from Mrs. Jacqueline Robinson, the Links Establishment Officer, who directed her to organize an interest group and also submit demographic data regarding the City of Miami.

The excitement began to escalate as Jessie invited two of her friends, Dolores Washington and Geneva K. Williams, to assist her in organizing an interest group and also to identify a professional clique of perceptive, sophisticated and community minded women to meet the requirements. It was on a beautiful spring morning that the name, “Sojourners Service Club” was selected.

The name “Sojourners” was suggested by Vennda Rei Gibson to symbolize the life of the valiant and courageous crusader, Sojourner Truth. The members sought to pattern their lives after this eminent civil war activist. The Sojourners reached out and touched the lives of youth via their journey throughout the deprived environs of Dade County, Florida with emphasis on the Arts, the Nation, the World, the Community and Services to Youth.

The Sojourners worked fastidiously for one full year, with organizers Jessie, Dolores and Geneva until approval was granted from the National Office of The Links, Inc. to establish a new chapter in Dade County.

1986 - Chartering of the Dade County (FL) Chapter

On Sunday, June 1, 1986, the Dade County (FL) Chapter of the Links, Inc. was chartered at the Pavilion Hotel. The organizers were Jessie Stinson, Dolores Washington and Geneva K. Williams. The charter members were Christine Alexander, Shirley Archie, Winifred Beacham, Evelyn Bethune, Carolyn Blake, Karen Bullard, Priscilla Dobbs, Betty Ferguson, Vennda Rei Gibson, Gracie Good, Patsy Graham, Mary Henry, Cecilia Hunter, Cleo Jolivette, Cassandra Judson, Clara Knight, Marilynn Koonce, Cynthia McAdory, Maud Newbold, Beth Reddick, Marica Saunders, Jeris Smith, Shelain Welters, Mercita Wimberly, and Nancy Young.

The election and installation of the first officers of the Dade County (FL) Chapter also transpired. Charter officers of the newly established chapter were: Geneva Williams (President), Shirley Archie (Vice President), Cassandra Judson (Recording Secretary), Patsy Graham (Assistant Recording Secretary), Winifred Beacham (Corresponding Secretary), Cecilia Hunter (Financial Secretary), Carolyn Blake (Treasurer), Marilynn Koonce (Parliamentarian), Maud Newbold (Journalist), Jessie Stinson (Historian) and DoLores Washington (Chaplain).