Members of The Links, Incorporated are influential decision makers and opinion leaders representing the worlds of business, government, media, academia, philanthropy, the arts, and more. The Links, Incorporated has attracted many distinguished women who are individual achievers and have made a difference in their local communities and the world.
On the evening of November 9, 1946, Margaret Rosell Hawkins and Sarah Strickland Scott, two young Philadelphia visionaries, invited seven of their friends to join them in organizing a new type of inter-city club. This organizing meeting of The Links was not a spontaneous action. In 1945, Hawkins had conceived the idea of a group of clubs composed of friends along the eastern seaboard and had spent many hours with Scott in thinking, planning and discussing the possibilities of such an endeavor. The two women envisioned an organization that would respond to the needs and aspirations of Black women in ways that existing clubs did not. It was their intent that the club would have a threefold aim-civic, educational, and cultural.
Based on these aims, the club would implement programs, which its founders hoped would foster cultural appreciation through the arts; develop richer inter-group relations; and help women who participated to understand and accept their social and civic responsibilities. Besides the two founders, the original members of the Philadelphia Club were Frances Atkinson, Katie Greene, Marion Minton, Lillian Stanford, Myrtle Manigault Stratton, Lillian Wall, and Dorothy Wright. The club elected Margaret Rosell Hawkins as president, Sarah Strickland Scott as vice president, Myrtle Manigault Stratton as recording secretary, Frances Atkinson as corresponding secretary, and Dorothy Wright as treasurer.
Margaret Rosell Hawkins
Margaret Hawkins was born Margaret Josephine Rosell on January 12, 1908, in Philadelphia. She was the youngest of two daughters of David and Anna Rosell. While attending the Philadelphia High School for Girls, her innate artistic talent was discovered and she entered the special program in the field of art.
However, she is probably best remembered at Girls’ High for leading her black classmates in a determined effort to attend the annual and, at that time, all-white senior prom. Rather than yield to the pressure for an integrated prom, school officers cancelled the affair. This co-founder and second national president of The Links graduated from Girls’ High in January 1927, and entered Philadelphia Normal School the following month. In June of that year, the Philadelphia Board of Education awarded her a four-year scholarship to the Women’s School of Design, later known as the Moore Institute of Art.
Sarah Strickland Scott
Sarah Strickland Scott, co-founder and first national president of The Links, Incorporated, was born in Philadelphia. The daughter of Dr. George G. and Minnie L. Strickland, she was also the sister and widow of physicians. Scott attended elementary and secondary schools and college in her home city. After majoring in English at the University of Pennsylvania, she began her career as a teacher in the Philadelphia high schools. Scott did graduate study in the field of guidance and received her master’s degree from Columbia University. For many years she was a guidance counselor at the Howard High School in Wilmington, Delaware.
In her profession as well as in her avocational activities, Scott projected a deep and abiding concern for the well being of young people who needed some direction in their life choices. Many of her activities were youth or family oriented. She was active in Jack and Jill and served a term as national president of that organization. She was married to Dr. Horace C. Scott and was the mother of one daughter, Marjorie Ann Scott Upshur, who pre-deceased her. She had two grandchildren, Robert Scott and Lisa Upshur.
Frances Vashon Atkinson was born in St. Louis and began her education there. Later she attended schools in Cleveland…read more
Marion Minton was also born in Philadelphia and attended the University of Pennsylvania…read more
Katie Murphy Greene
Katie Murphy Greene, the daughter of Sidney and Belle Glascow Murphy, was born in Eugaula, Alabama…read more
Lillian C. Stanford
Lillian C. Stanford was born in New Brighton, Pennsylvania, and graduated from West Virginia State College…read more
Myrtle C. Manigault Stratton
Myrtle C. Manigault Stratton was a native of Philadelphia although at the time of the organization she was living…read more
Lillian Hudson Wall
Lillian Hudson Wall, wife of Dr. Lonnie C. Wall, was a native of Waynesborough, Georgia…read more
Dorothy Bell Wright
Dorothy Bell Wright is a native of Philadelphia. She attended the School of Accounts and Finance of the University of Pennsylvania…read more
African American vocalist and theater artist, Etta Moten Barnett, was selected under the leadership of 4th National President Vivian J. Beamon as The Links, Incorporated’s first honorary member.
Barnett achieved stardom in the theater, performing in legendary Broadway productions of “Sugar Hill,” “Lysistrata,” and “Porgy and Bess,” joining the ranks of African-America’s most elite talent, including Sidney Poitier, Cab Calloway, and Maya Angelou. She became the first African American stage and screen star to sing and perform at the White House, invited by President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.
Barnett was invited to become an active member of The Links, Incorporated. Believing in the mission and goals of the organization, Barnett served as chair of several ad-hoc committees. She was as engaged as a member as she was in her acting career.
Barnett passed away in 2004 at the young age of 102.
Celebrated contralto singer, Marian Anderson became the second honorary member of the organization, under the leadership of 5th National President Helen Gray Edmonds. Anderson was acclaimed and recognized internationally for her incredibly vibrant voice. Her repertoire includes a one-time opera performance as Ulrica in Giuseppe Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera, at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
While her voice was the instrument of her profession, her support of the civil rights movement allowed her to make significant stands against discrimination, bringing worldwide attention to racism in America. Barred from performing at Washington, D.C.’s white-only Constitution Hall in 1939, Anderson made history when she performed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Standing strong and representing Black America, Anderson, sang for the presidential inaugurations of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1957 and John F. Kennedy in 1962. She gave back to her community through benefit concerts, supporting many organizations that fought for the rights of African Americans. Anderson passed away at the age of 96 in 1993.
The first Black international opera star, Mattiwilda Dobbs, became an honorary member in 1973, under the leadership of 5th National President Helen Gray Edmonds. Dobbs won an international music competition in 1951 in Geneva, Switzerland, and, in 1953, performed in Milan’s La Scala Opera House, making her the first African American woman to appear in that role.
In 1956, she made her debut at New York’s Metropolitan Opera as Gilda in “Rigoleeto.” Dobbs was the first African-American signer to be offered a long-term contract by the Met. Retiring from the stage in 1974, Dobbs began teaching at the University of Texas, becoming the first African American on faculty, and continued her teaching career at Spelman College, the University of Illinois, the University of Georgia and Howard University in Washington, D.C. as a professor of voice.
Political and educational pioneer Patricia Roberts Harris became the fourth honorary member of the organization in 1978, under the leadership of 6th National President Pauline Ellison.
While working as assistant director of the American Council on Human Rights, Harris received her law degree from George Washington University. She was admitted to practice before the U. S. Supreme Court. After serving in a variety of roles at Howard University, she became dean of Howard’s Law School.
The honorable Constance Baker Motley, became the fifth honorary member in 1980 under the leadership of 7th National President Julia Bordgon Purnell.
Upon graduating from Columbia University Law School, Motley began a 16-year law career with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, where she worked with Thurgood Marshall. She was the only woman on the legal team in the historic legal challenge to school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education. Motley won notable civil rights victories in the U.S. Supreme Court, represented Martin Luther King Jr., served in the New York State Senate and was a city borough president. Perhaps most notably, though, in 1966 she became the first black woman to be appointed to a federal judgeship.
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.”
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.
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).
In 2018, Kamala Harris became the 11th honorary member of The Links, Incorporated under the leadership of 16th National President Glenda Newell-Harris, M.D. 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.
In 2022, Misty Copeland became the 12th honorary member of The Links, Incorporated under the leadership og 17th National President Kimberly Jefrries Leonard, Ph.D. Copeland made history becoming a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre, the first African American woman to be promoted to the position in the company’s 75-year history. She is an author and a philanthropist.
She has performed some of the most iconic classical ballet roles, including Odette/Odile in Swan Lake; Juliet in Romeo & Juliet; Giselle; Manon; Coppelia; Kitri in Don Quixote; and Firebird, to name a few.
Copeland is an avid philanthropist and is an ambassador of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, of which is also an alum, and MindLeaps, an arts education program based in Rwanda that helps young people get off the streets and into an academic setting to help enhance their lives. She leads The Misty Copeland Foundation Inc. – a program introducing children to ballet and all the life benefits that come from engaging in dance.
Copeland is the bestselling author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Life In Motion; an award-winning children’s picture book titled Firebird; a New York Times bestselling lifestyle book titled Ballerina Body; and the New York Times bestselling children’s picture book, Bunheads. Her newest book, Black Ballerinas: My Journey To Our Legacy, was published in fall 2021.