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of The Southern Area

of The Links, Incorporated

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Margaret Rosell Hawkins and Sarah Strickland Scott, Founders of The Links, Incorporated

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The Links Incorporated 1963 Southern Area Conference

Vivian Jones Beamon, National President

Linda Riddick, Southern Area Director

Thirteen women established the sixth club of The Links, Incorporated in eastern North Carolina on April 18, 1948. The Wilson-Rocky Mount-Tarboro Club became the first chapter in what is now known as Southern Area of The Links, Incorporated. Following the legacy of our co-founders, the women focused their efforts on programs related to education and improving the lives of African Americans in their community. The Southern Area now boasts the largest number of chapters in the organization.

Growth in the Southern Area over the decades directly corresponded to the needs and challenges faced by the African American community as a whole. In the 1940s and 50s, chapters expanded from North Carolina to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina. Members of the twenty-three chapters focused their efforts on support of the NAACP and service programs that enhanced youth and enriched education.

In the turbulent 1960s, another eight chapters joined the Southern Area and members found themselves in communities where segregation and Jim Crow laws increasingly made life extremely hard for its African American citizens who expected that their quality of life would improve at the same rate as others in the community. Programs to enhance education, culture, youth development and the championing of civil rights causes were undertaken by chapters.

The 1970s brought about significant changes for America and the forty-two chapters of the Southern Area. Members enjoyed unparalleled administrative growth and the deepening impact of their service. The 1980s thrust the group forward, which caused members to reflect on the meaning of their involvement. Sixty chapters now included one outside the continental United States, in Nassau, Bahamas. the Southern Area Link accomplishments were detailed in our first history book.

Racial inequities, anti-drug abuse efforts and access to quality education dominated the 1990s and provided Links countless avenues to protect and enrich their communities in fourteen additional chapters. Programs focused on the African American family and an effort to increase bone marrow and organ donation. The latter was significant for the African American community that traditionally has fewer donors, but a greater need for transplants. Linkages to Life, the Southern Area program, became a National Initiative, embraced by members in all areas.

The Southern Area of The Links, Incorporated entered the millennium with a new chapter in South Africa and a focus on improving the lives of those of African descent in America and around the globe. Nine schools were created in South Africa and sponsored by the Southern Area and Southern Area chapters and clusters. American students were not left out in member efforts. The Historically Black College and University Scholarship Endowment Initiative established endowments at all fifty-one institutions in the Southern Area. As a National Initiative, this support was expanded to help to sustain all HBCUs nationwide. Another program, Links Day at the Capitol, created a venue for community concerns to be presented to legislators.

Childhood obesity was another concern addressed by Southern Area Links. The Commission on Childhood Obesity Prevention, composed of national experts in the health care field, was established to foster a discussion on the topic. Childhood obesity prevention became a National Initiative. In recent years, the Southern Area also focused on improving science, technology, engineering, and math education for students and promoting STEM careers using arts integration. Today our programmatic thrust has expanded to include youth aging out of foster care (Closing the Gap), real estate retention (Healthy Homestead), and breast cancer awareness (Links in Pink). Southern Area Arts Facet signature initiatives “Connecting Threads” and “Artists Noir” were introduced to encourage and advance emerging artists of color and to introduce STEAM education through the arts.

Today, Southern Area, includes eighty-four chapters encompassing Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

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