Lead, Advocate and Develop

The National Council of Negro Women seeks to elevate the lives of African American women and their communities

Features > Lead, Advocate and Develop
Lead, Advocate and Develop
The National Council of Negro Women was chartered at Kean in spring 2018. Photo courtesy of the National Council of Negro Women.
Zoe Strozewski, Staff Writer

The National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) is a non-profit organization that has been working to elevate the opportunities and quality of life for African American women since its inception in 1935 by Mary McLeod Bethune. Kean has owned its own NCNW chapter since it was chartered in the spring 2018 semester.

Sade Govan-Smith, a senior majoring in communication studies, is currently the group’s president and was one of the founding members of Kean’s chapter. Initially elected as the group’s first vice president, she was inspired to become part of the NCNW due to its passion for the advancement of African American women.

“This organization is just so rich and I guess I fell in love with the mission, which is to lead, advocate and develop. They stand firm and strong in trying to uplift African American women and trying to uplift the community and bringing awareness to things that we don’t talk about outside of our culture,” Govan-Smith said.

Apart from Govan-Smith, the executive board is as multi-faceted and rich as the national organization’s history. It consists of First Vice President Tierra Hooker, Second Vice President Dazhane Gordon, Third Vice President Erica Allen, Corresponding Secretary Biasia Young, Treasurer Janayla Brown, Chaplain Jenell Boykins, Historian Chelsea Leon, Parliamentarian Amber Burnett and Recording Secretary Glenn De Gonzague.

In accordance with their mission to elevate women of color, the NCNW tends to focus on promoting knowledge and ways of thinking that can directly benefit them in crucial facets of their lives. They also aim to give back to the communities they live in.

“We focus on health, financial literacy and empowerment because, as women, sometimes we don’t uplift one another. We don’t praise one another. We’re so quick to bring one another down,” Govan-Smith said. “We’re a community service organization, so we try to do as much community service as possible.”

The NCNW attempts to meet at least once or twice a month. At these meetings, they provide recaps of occurrences in their lives, discuss areas of improvement and state personal affirmations to reinforce their self-worth. They also discuss programs and close each meeting with a prayer.

While the group has no further events before the end of this semester, they’ve been extremely active in planning events that would benefit not just their group but also the campus as a whole. They hosted an “NCNW Week” previously, which included a self-care program and a sexual assault and violence event in which a women told her story of taking back her power after being subjected to trauma at a young age. They also organized a financial literacy program with a guest who spoke on ways to offset the common mistakes college students make.

“As college students and as African Americans, we don’t really care about our money. We splurge. We don’t think about the longevity of things. She taught us how to build our credit and maintain our credit, to learn how to save, credit cards, debit cards and so forth,” said Govan-Smith.

While Govan-Smith is finishing up her final semester at Kean and, consequently, her final semester as the NCNW’s president, she’s leaving the group in good hands with the remaining members who’ve already began brainstorming events that will allow members and non-members alike to flourish.

“Fortunately, I’m graduating, but of course I’ll be here to support. I know the ladies who are still going to be here on campus have a ton of programs that the Kean community can benefit from—not just African Americans, but the community in general,” said Govan-Smith.

To learn more about the National Council of Negro Women, please visit the group’s page on Cougar Link. Additionally, further information can be sought by contacting the group at (202) 737-0120 and ncnwkean@gmail.com, respectively.

about the author

Zoe Strozewski, Staff Writer

Zoe Strozewski is a sophomore majoring in communications with a focus on journalism. She joined The Cougar's Byte as a staff writer in February 2018.  In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, listening to music and playing for Kean's women's volleyball team.  In the future, she hopes to spend her days reporting on politics, music, and social issues as a writer for The New Yorker or Rolling Stone