Lot of 2 purple silk banners with silk fringe, featuring hand-painted gold lettering that promotes the Oklahoma Federation of Colored Women / 1910, and the motto Lifting as We Climb, approx. 29 x 36 in., both hanging from crudely-made wooden rods, the first with turned acorn finials, approx. 41.5 in., the second approx. 31.5 in. Both banners, which were initially discovered in the walls of a Muskogee, OK home.
The Oklahoma Federation of Negro Women's Clubs was formed in 1910, and the name was officially changed to the Oklahoma Federation of Colored Women's Clubs (OFCWC) in 1924. The primary purpose of the various regional clubs under the state banner was to improve the lives of its members and the African-American population in general. From Civil Rights issues, women's suffrage, and education, the members had a great influence on their community. The clubs were also used as a tool to develop the members' social skills, giving them an opportunity to be leaders in the African-American community when there were few other chances to do so. These clubs became a vital force throughout the country, and aided in the development of fund-raising activities that would help educational, cultural, and social programs in their communities.
The motto Lifting as We Climb, featured on the second banner, was adopted by the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), a group that formed from the joining of the National League of Colored Women with the National Federation of African American Women. Since it was established in 1896, the mission of the NACW was to improve the lives of poor African Americans, and by 1913, there were 300+ clubs under the auspices of the NACW. This group brought attention to the problems of the African-American community, among them poverty, civil rights, education, and suffrage. The female members of these clubs were expected to serve as role models for other women by projecting a positive image and giving them hope and inspiration in their lives. The NACW was instrumental in raising funds in communities for various social programs. Everything from clothing and housing, to schools and camps, healthcare and nutrition were covered under donations from the NACW. Although membership in the NACW has waned in recent years, it continues to serve as a voice in the community (Reese, 1997).
A rare pair of early banners promoting racial uplift.
Condition: Expected wear to banners with time; scattered soiling to banners; some of the painted lettering has worn with time.