Primary Source

Letter to Council Women


In a 1960 letter, fourth national president of the National Council of Negro Women Dorothy Height reports back to the Council on her trip to Sierra Leone. She served as both participant and facilitator in what she described as the first meeting of West African women including Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana, and Liberia. The women leaders discussed their experiences at home, shared organizing strategies, and overall, aimed to build community across borders. As women across west Africa prepared for national independence, they solicited support from women in neighboring countries and abroad to redefine their roles, for themselves, in emerging societies. This event was a precursor to the larger first Conference of Women of Africa and African Descent held in July 1960 in Accra, Ghana.

This source is part of the race, gender, and transnational histories of solidarity teaching module


It was an unusual thing for this cross section group of women to spend a whole day at the beach simply telling one another how life was in their several countries and also unburdening themselves on what they felt was the job that needed to be done. Now they were ready to talk about the value of International affiliations. Some of the women already felt the need and importance of being related to an international organization. Others were perplexed by the several invitations which had come to them. But the thing that interested most, was that they did not spend their time simply talking about the mechanics of international organization they really wanted to know what groups like ours which are related to the international scene had found as the major place to pus emphasis in the struggle for world peace. Their questions really all had to do with the content of program as we might call it. They had only a few questions about the structure of the organization. Their interest was in discovering what might be done to help achieve some of what they feel is needed for the thousands of girls whose ability and talent go unused for lack of education.


“Letter to Council Women,” March 10, 1960, Series 10, Box 21, Folder 412, NCNW Papers, NABWH, Washington, D.C Annotation by Yatta Kiazolu, University of California-San Diego

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"Letter to Council Women ," in World History Commons, [accessed July 12, 2024]