The Central New Jersey Chapter of The Links, Incorporated was organized in May 1949, at the Princeton, N.J. home of Link Sadie Dickerson. Our charter members were Louise Granger, Augusta Smith, Claudine Lewis, Madeline Broaddus, Sadie Dickerson and Eddye Mae Shivery. Within the year, Alice Archibald, Lottie Dinkins, Bernice Munce, Ethel Price, Margaret Sullivan, Susie Waxwood and Eloise Williams were invited to expand the founding members. As the years progressed, the chapter continued to grow. Today, there are 35 active members.
On March 28, 1951, our chapter was incorporated in New Brunswick, N.J. with four of the founding members of Central New Jersey Links as witnesses.
The late Madeline Broaddus was the first Eastern Area director. Claudine Lewis was the first national journalist and was elected as one of first nine trustees of National Links, Inc. Lottie Dinkins wrote the “Friendship Ceremony Ritual,” and Bernice Munce inspired, originated, named and started Services to Youth as one of the three-pronged major program approaches of The Links, Inc. Thelma Doby was elected Eastern Area treasurer.
The chapter serves the Red Bank, Princeton, Trenton and New Brunswick areas. Programs in the early years were numerous. During the 1950s, Freedom and the Arts was the major focus, with concerts featuring Adelene Addison, Nat King Cole, Lena Horne, Theodore Hendricks Verdejo and Aundretta Wright.
The 1970s were highlighted by programs of International trends, community issues and concerns. We recognized African Americans in Central New Jersey who contributed toward the growth of America and African American relations. We joined with 14 other Links chapters and the Phelps-Stokes Fund in a Memorial Affair honoring Dr. Ralph Bunche.
The 1980s and early nineties found Central New Jersey Links focusing on aid to African-American youth. Activities included tutoring services in many areas; presenting Youth and the Performing Arts, Mother Hale of New York Hale House, pupil enrichment programs and the Nyeerere Education Institute Workshop; providing free theater tickets and camperships, and participating in the umbrella program Project LEAD: High Expectations.
Continuing into the ’90s, the Arts and International Trends Committees, chaired by Link Edith Boone and Link Frances Dunston respectively, secured an evening with the artist Ms. Edwina Lee Tyler. Ms. Tyler, as acclaimed percussionist, composer, vocalist and dancer, explored traditional music as well as the music of African-based cultures. The chapter also hosted a welcoming reception for LeBallet National Du Senegal at the New Jersey State Theater. The troupe provided a performance of song, dance and percussion style of the Senegalise culture.
National Trends, then chaired by Link Cecilia B. Hodges, implemented for two successive years seminars for youth and adult exposure. The keynote speaker for the first seminar on AIDS: For Youth was Rev. Dr. Donald Hilliard, Jr. of Second Baptist Church in Perth Amboy, N.J. Keynote for the second seminar, held the following year, was Dr. Karen Wells, a noted psychotherapist. Following the keynote address, the audience could participate in four workshops centering on how AIDS is contracted, disseminated and prevented. Workshop facilities included an HIV positive male and Dr. James Sherley of the Oncology Department of Fox Chase Medical Center in Philadelphia, P.A. About 200 youth and parents participated in the four workshops.
The third year, National Trends’ seminar theme was It Take a Village to Raise a Child. The keynote speaker was Dr. Samuel Dewitt Proctor, author, minister and educator. His address was titled The Family as Incubator. Well over 300 families and youths attended this seminar’s four workshops. A special tribute was paid to Dr. Procter in March ’96, with a reception and book signing party for his publication The Substance of Things Hoped For. This event was organized by the National Trends Committee, led by Link Wardell Robinson-Moore who was the committee chair at that time.
The Services to Youth committee, led by the Late Link Carol Stewart, also spearheaded a partnership with the Youth Scholarship Institute of New Jersey in the ’90s. In conjunction with Ms. Geri Morrison, Services to Youth offered support to young Black males in cultural activities, science exploration, creative writing, tutoring, computers, standardized test preparation and college tours. This partnership continued well into the new millenium.
We continue to work towards breaking the culture of silence that impacts the health and welfare of women and children. Most recently, in our 65th year of programming and service, the Central New Jersey Chapter of the Links, Inc. hosted its inaugural International Women’s Luncheon at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey on March 1, 2014. Over one hundred women — multi-cultural, and cross-generational — gathered together. Speakers from around the world addressed the disparity in education, health care, sex and labor trafficking, access to basic provisions and poverty. Ann Nicol, executive director of UNA-NY, women’s International Forum at the UN and head of the International Affairs Committee of the Women’s Club of Glen Ridge, N.J., was mistress of ceremonies. Dr. Josephine Ojiambo, former ambassador to Kenya and chief of the Executive Board and External Relations brand in the Information and External Relations Division (IERD) at the United Nations was the keynote speaker.
Over the past 65 years to the present, the Central New Jersey Links continuously engage in fundraising to support our communities and youth at large. Fundraising initiatives range from card parties to luncheons to concerts to grants from area organizations to our signature Holly Ball bi-annual charity event extravaganza.
We strongly feel that our efforts, in concert with the communities in which we live and work, will continue to make all communities and the world a better place to live and to work.