Educator and politician Elizabeth Duncan Koontz became sixth honorary member in 1984, under the leadership of 8th National President Dolly Desselle Adams. Koontz began her career as a fourth-grade teacher in North Carolina. She served as a special education teacher, helping students with learning disabilities, at Price High School in Salisbury, N.C.
In 1968, Koontz became the first Black woman president of the National Education Association. Her success landed her an appointment with the United States government. A year later, she was appointed by President Richard Nixon to serve as an advisor to the United States Secretary of Labor and as director of the Women’s Bureau.”
Koontz died in 1989 at the age of 69.
Leontyne Price, the seventh honorary member of the organization, was inducted in 1988 under the leadership of 9th National President Regina Jollivette Frazier. In 1952, Price made her Broadway debut as St. Cecilia in the revival of Thompsen’s Four Saints in Three Acts. Following her Broadway debut, Price was cast in a touring production of George Gershwin‘s Porgy and Bess. For two years, Price portrayed Bess, gaining acclaim with her flawless vocal interpretations. She made her opera stage debut at the San Francisco Opera in 1957, and her debut at New York City’s Metropolitan Opera House in 1961. Widely regarded as the first African American singer to earn international acclaim in opera, Price is known for her roles in Il Trovatore, Antony and Cleopatra and Aida.
Continuing to give her gift of hope through song, Price came out of retirement in 2001, at the age of 74, to sing at a benefit concert at Carnegie Hall for the victims of September 11.
Price lives in Greenwich Village in New York City.
In 2003, Rosa L. Parks became the eighth honorary member of The Links, Incorporated, under the leadership of 13th National President Gladys Gary Vaughn. Named by the U. S. Congress as “the first lady of civil rights and the mother of the freedom movement,” Parks is best known as an American civil rights activist, who refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. At the time of her arrest, Parks was secretary of the Montgomery Chapter of the NAACP. She suffered for her stand against racism as she was fired from her job as a seamstress at a local department store. Forced to seek employment elsewhere, she moved to Detroit, Michigan, finding similar work in that area.
In the mid 1960s, she acquired a position as secretary and receptionist for an African American U. S. Representative, Jon Conyers.
Parks has been honored and received the highest award granted by the NAACP. Both her birthday and the day she refused to give up her seat are celebrated holidays in California and Ohio.
Parks passed away in 2005 at the age of 92.
Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was invited to become the ninth honorary member in 2010 under the leadership of 14th National President Gwendolyn B. Lee and was inducted in 2013 under the leadership of 15th National President Margot James Copeland.
In 2005, Sirleaf became the first female elected head of state in Africa. While schooled in the United States, she returned home to her native Liberia to serve her government. Because of a military coup she was forced into exile, but returned to speak against the brutality and destruction of the military regime.
The majority of her adult life, Sirleaf has fought against injustice. She served as an assistant minister of Finance to Liberia’s President William Tolbert, who was overthrown and killed by Samuel Doe, a military leader. When speaking out against Doe, Sirleaf was sentenced to 10 years in prison. After serving a partial sentence, she eventually moved to Washington, D. C.
Although forced to leave her country again, she returned, winning the presidency and in 2011 a Nobel Peace Prize for the separate efforts she and two other African women did “for their nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.
Condoleezza Rice became the 10th honorary member of The Links, Incorporated in 2013, under the leadership of 15th National President Margot James Copeland. Rice was the first African American and woman to hold the position and become the 66th Secretary of State for the United States.
In 2001, Rice was appointed national security adviser by President George W. Bush, becoming the first black woman (and second woman) to hold the post, and went on to become the first Black woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State.
Rice became the first woman and first African American to serve as provost of Stanford University.
In her role as Secretary of State, Rice relocated American diplomats to such hardship locations as Iraq, Afghanistan and Angola, and required them to become fluent in two foreign languages. She also created a high-level position to de-fragment U.S. foreign aid, raising the bar for performance and perfection.
Not only has Rice served as a government official, she is also an educator and author. In September 2010, she became a faculty member of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a director of its Global Center for Business. She is the author of several books to include, Germany Unified and Europe Transformed (1995) with Philip Zelikow, The Gorbachev Era (1986) with Alexander Dallin, and Uncertain Allegiance: The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army (1984).
Rice resides in Palo Alto, Cali.
In 2018, Kamala Harris became the 11th honorary member of The Links, Incorporated. Harris is the second African American woman and first South Asian American senator in history
Harris has spent her life fighting injustice. After earning an undergraduate degree from Howard University and a law degree from the University of California, Hastings, Harris began her career in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.
In 2003, Harris became the district attorney of the City and County of San Francisco. Among her achievements as District Attorney, Harris started a program that gives first-time drug offenders the chance to earn a high school diploma and find employment.
Having completed two terms as the district attorney of San Francisco, Kamala was elected as the first African American and first woman to serve as California’s attorney general.
In the United States Senate, Harris’ mission remains unchanged: fighting for the rights of all communities in California. Since taking office, she has introduced and cosponsored legislation to raise wages for working people, reform our broken criminal justice system, make healthcare a right for all Americans, address the epidemic of substance abuse, support veterans and military families, and expand access to childcare for working parents.