The year was 1946. In the city of Philadelphia matrons Margaret Hawkins and Sarah Scott Strickland called together seven friends in hopes of starting a chain of women’s clubs, a new type of organization composed of friends along the Eastern seaboard who would respond to the needs and aspirations of Black women. There were other groups in existence, but the two women envisioned a service-oriented organization that would have a three-fold purpose-to promote civic, educational and cultural concerns-and to lead lack women into postwar America.
That founding meeting launched The Links, Incorporated, an international women’s service organization that is among the most prestigious associations of Black women in the world. From that modest first meeting of nine women, the organization born in the wake of World War II has expanded and refined its mission and membership, endured social and racial upheavals, and today has a membership of 14,000+ Black women in 281 chapters in 41 states of the United States, Washington, DC, and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The members of The Links, Incorporated are physicians, dentists, judges, attorneys, engineers, educators, entrepreneurs, elected officials, non-profit executives, authors, corporate executives and homemakers. They all use their considerable resources and their resource base to improve the quality of life for others, today and in the future.
Over the years, the organization has implemented programs with the purpose of fostering cultural appreciation through the arts, developing richer inter-group relations and helping women who participate understand and accept their social and civic responsibilities.
In 1949, The Links became a national organization when 40 members, representing 14 chapters, met at the first National Assembly held in Philadelphia. The organization has been incorporated since March 29, 1951.
The Links Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the organization, was created in 1980 to address needs of their communities and to enhance their philanthropic endeavors by using the advantages of a better tax-deductible position than the one held by The Links, Incorporated.
Links members contribute more than 500,000 documented hours of community service annually—strengthening their communities and enhancing the nation. The organization is the recipient of awards from the UN Association of New York and the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation for its premier programs.