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Gateway to Women's History

The Texas Federation of Colored Women's Clubs was organized in 1905 by Mrs. M. E. Y. Moore in Gainesville, Texas, in response to the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs excluding black women from membership. By forming a federation of independent women's clubs, the aim was to promote collaborative partnerships to improve the homes and the moral and social life in the communities of Texas. The TAWC adopted the motto of the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, "Lifting as we Climb" and women from around the state answered Moore’s call for transformation. Moore was soon elected president and would be succeeded by charter member, Inez Scott from Paris, Texas.

The organization’s first printed minutes were documented during the presidency of Mary Alphin, the third president elected in 1910. By 1916, Carrie Adams of Beaumont, Texas, the organization’s fourth president, set the stage for establishing a home for delinquent girls, an undertaking that would take 30 years to succeed.

In 1906, the TACWC affiliated with the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, established in 1896. One Texas club, the Phyllis Wheatley Club of Fort Worth, became an affiliate of the NACWC between 1899 and 1901, even before the founding of the TACWC. By 1906 there were new women’s clubs throughout Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. TACWC grew quickly in Texas, maintaining an active program focused on education and culture for its members. The organization was also committed to addressing questions about racial inequality and in 1915 the statewide Texas Association of Women's Clubs endorsed women's suffrage.

By the 1930s the NACWC revised its constitution, drastically reducing the number of its committees, and increasingly shifting its focus to emphasize home and family life. Although its goals still included civic and political rights, the organization’s influence was soon supplemented by newer ones like the National Council of Negro Women. The NACWC held its annual convention in Fort Worth 1937 with more than 300 delegates in attendance. Mary McLeod Bethune, national club leader, spoke on the youth movement, and a popular song, “Call to Women” composed by Leana L. Parks of Marlin, Texas, was sung in the period before World War II because the women were greatly concerned with and committed to the preservation of peace. Numerous TACWC members achieved national leadership positions including Ada Bell DeMent, a teacher from Mineral Wells, who served as the state president from 1930-1934, but went on to serve as the national president from 1941-1945.

Although most of the community improvement efforts were focused at the local club level, a number of impressive state wide initiatives were directed by the various presidencies of the TAWC. The TACWC worked from 1916 to 1945 to campaigning to convince the state to financially support a home and training school for delinquent black girls which the TAWC would donate the land. The plan was first adopted under the urging of Carrie Adams of Beaumont, during World War I. By 1923 the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs and the Joint Legislative Council had endorsed the concept, an early example of interracial cooperation. That same year the TACWC raised $2,000 for the down payment on a home.

In 1920, the TAWC raised $2,000 to go towards the down payment of the home. Later in the year, the organization purchased land in San Antonio for the home by putting $5500 down. Monthly payments were $700. In 1926 Jessie Daniel Ames, a former suffragist, toured the state speaking on behalf of the project to audiences of white clubwomen. The legislature finally authorized the construction of the home in 1927 but did not provide appropriations. However, it would be eighteen long years before any additional funding would be approved for the project.

In 1945 the state finally appropriated $60,000 to establish the Brady State School for Negro Girls, located in a former prisoner-of-war camp near Brady. The first students were admitted in 1945 opening its doors on August 25. In 1950 the school was relocated to Crockett where it housed more than 100 girls where it was renamed the Texas Training School for Negro and referred to as the Girls Crockett State School.

The TACWC also worked for a state hospital for black tuberculosis patients and supported the agenda of its parent body, the NACWC, which included advocating for an end to lynching and bringing awareness to the struggle the African-American community was experiencing with voting rights. Members were also invested in additional state projects including scholarships, recommendations to the railroad companies for improved accommodations, and the establishment of Camp McMullen, a campsite for young girls and boys.

In 1956, the name of the organization changed to the Texas Association of Women's Clubs. The Federation further organized itself into nine districts for the state of Texas. Texas became part of the Southwest Region under NAWC. This region included eight states: Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. The first elected president of the TAWC was Mrs. R. A. Ransom of Ft. Worth, Texas. However, due to illness she was unable to serve as the President.

By 1982 another Texas, Ruby Morris, was elected president of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, and the word “colored” was dropped from the name of both the state and the national organizations.

Today, the TAWC like the National Association of Colored Women Clubs continues to advocate for economic, moral, religious, and social welfare of women and youth; protect the rights of women and youth; raise the standard and quality of life in home and family; secure and use our influence for the enforcement of civil and political rights for African Americans and all citizens; promote the education of women and children; obtain for African American women the opportunity of reaching the highest levels in all fields of human endeavor; promote effective interaction with the male auxiliary; promote interracial understanding so that justice and good will may prevail among all people; and hold education workshops biennially at the national convention.

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Ruby Queen at the 60th Anniversary of the Twilight Civic and Cultural Club, Ft. Worth, Texas, 2005
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