Why is an organization like NCNW so necessary? In 1935, Mary McLeod Bethune, from her vantage point as Advisor of Minority Affairs to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said that she could not rest to see the unharnessed womanpower among our women. When the 28 national women leaders responded to her call she pointed out that what was needed was not another organization, but one that would bring organizations together. Mary Church Terrell proposed forming a "council." Thus, Mrs. Bethune founded the National Council of Negro Women as such - "a national organization of national organizations."
Hers was a visionary call for working together with a "Unity of Purpose and a Unity of Action." Much like the United Nations, which is a kind of council of sovereign nations coming together to promote development and peace, NCNW is a council of autonomous national organizations coming together to improve the quality of life for women. Mrs. Bethune envisioned NCNW functioning as a clearinghouse, facilitating networking and coalition-building, and advocating the use of collective power on issues affecting women, their families and communities.