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National Congress of Black Women plans to start Flushing chapter

By Kelsey Durham

A national organization promoting the progress and development of African-American women will soon be heading to Queens to establish the group’s first chapter in the borough.

The National Congress of Black Women, a nonprofit dedicated to the educational, economic and cultural development of black women and their families, is looking to start its first boroughwide chapter in Flushing.

Although there are more than 100 chapters nationwide, the NCBW, based in Washington, D.C., has just one New York City chapter, based in Brooklyn, and the group now wants to expand to another borough.

Pauline Murray, a longtime Flushing resident, led a group of 12 other women Sunday who attended a meeting at the Flushing branch of Queens Library to show their support for bringing the NCBW to Queens.

Murray, who has been a part of the organization for 20 years, said she has long seen the need for new chapters not only in Queens, but in New York as a whole, and said she is thrilled at the possibility of having one right in her own neighborhood.

“I’m so elated that we’re starting out in Queens,” she said. “There’s such a rich history, particularly from an African-American standpoint, in this area and now we can say that we can bring it out as a chapter.”

Dr. E. Faye Williams, national chairwoman for the NCBW, said the organization has always had members in New York, but the city did not have a true chapter office until the Brooklyn location opened just this year. Before then, Buffalo was the only location in the entire state.

“What we’re doing now is breaking it down into smaller geographic areas,” Williams said.

Williams said the NCBW focuses on issues important to black women and their families and on matters that could affect them, such as immigration, education, child labor and voter registration.

With a chapter coming to the heart of Queens, the organization will be able to focus on things that have a direct impact on communities throughout the borough and find solutions for them.

“We’re an organization about acting and doing as opposed to meeting and talking,” Williams said. “I often tell people to remember that a lot of the issues important to them are right in their own communities. We involve ourselves in whatever our community needs.”

The NCBW requires that 10 members must be interested in starting a new chapter before it can be formed, a threshold that was met by the 13 women who showed up at Sunday’s gathering. Although this was the first meeting to discuss the new chapter’s formation, Murray said there was a lot of support shown by those involved and said the chapter is well on its way to planting roots in Queens.

Williams took over as chairwoman in 2005 and said there were six chapters when she began her time as leader. The Flushing chapter, when established, would be the NCBW’s 111th across the nation, which Williams said shows the commitment and growth the organization has had in the last decade.

“It means we’re growing,” she said. “We can have more of an impact on the lives of black women and their families because we’re located in more places.”

Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at kdurham@cnglocal.com.

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