This document is a copy of the written annual report of the M.C. Lawton Club. The report’s priority topic was a recital fundraiser held in what is now Albany’s oldest African-American church (Morning Star Baptist Church) on February 10, 1928. The M.C. Lawton Club was one of the civic and cultural clubs founded during the Civil War and WWII and based on the goals of the Progressive Era to help improve living and working conditions. The M.C. Lawton club, founded by Mrs. Marie C. Lawton was a branch of the Empire State Federation of Women’s Clubs (ESFWC) which in turn was affiliated to the Northeastern Federation of Women’s Clubs (NFWC) regional organization of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (NACWC). The NACWC’s membership boomed during the 1920s from lives of African-American women and girls in the community and stand against any kind of racial prejudice. The M.C. Lawton Club’s constitution states its mission was being to “promote the welfare of people wherein needed, and to assist in civic affairs,” and according to the club, it was Albany’s first African-American organization actively engaged in “community service, educational advancement, race relations, and self-development.” Other activities of the Club included opposing minstrel shows in Albany Public Schools (1926&1927), working to improve housing conditions, holding annual concerts, and creating a five-point plan later taken over by the Albany Inter-Racial Council.
How does this excerpt from the Annual Report of the M.C. Lawton Club demonstrate this African-American Women’s Club’s role in developing American culture and its diverse and multicultural context?
Check for Understanding
- Write one conclusion you were able to draw about African-American Women’s Clubs from this annual report.
- Write a short paragraph answering the essential question.
Mrs. Maria C. Lawton (b. 1864) - A graduate of Howard University and president of the Empire State Federation of Women's Clubs, Incorporated for 10 years. She was a newspaper reporter, orator, political leader, and namesake to the Empire State Federation of Women's Clubs affiliate clubs located throughout New York State.
M.C. Lawton Club - an African American women's club founded in 1919 with the goal of "community service, educational advancement, race relations and self advancement." Its membership included many of the most prominent African American women in Albany. In the 1920s and 1930s, the organization was an active campaigner of improved social conditions for African Americans. In later years, this mission was largely taken over by the NAACP. The M. C. Lawton Club now largely focuses on fundraising and cultural education.
Countee Cullen - an African American poet born in 1903. He received his Bachelor's degree from New York University in 1925 and Master's from Harvard in 1926. Through his poetry, he protested against violations of African American dignity and rights. Cullen typified the spirit of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. In the 1930s, he served as a creative writing teacher at Frederick Douglass Junior High School in New York City. He died in January 1946.