A National Social, Civic and Cultural Organization - Est. 1952
I can imagine that on May 17, 1954, members of the Squaws club rejoiced as they watched Plessy v Fergusson's, separate but equal doctrine be overturned by the ruling of the Supreme Court in its deliberation of Brown vs the Board of Education.
In 1952, Lavera Edward Hord contacted a group of young Pittsburgh women, suggesting that they meet one evening a month, if possible to socialize and catch up on the news in and about Pittsburgh. The majority of them were friends or acquaintances who had recently become brides or new mothers. Making contact with one another was limited because of family responsibilities. The ladies usually gathered late in the evening, they jokingly referred to themselves as “The Midnighters.”
As their children became older, the Midnighters decided to organize formally and select a name for themselves. After various names were submitted and a vote was taken; "Squaws" was the winner; thus, the Squaws were born.
During the 1950s, The Squaws gave a donation to a large Pittsburgh family whose house and possessions were lost in a fire. It was from that small gesture of extending a helping hand that the club decided to continue to serve the community in other small ways. They later made a contribution to the Maurice Stokes Foundation. Maurice, a nationally known professional basketball player, was stricken with an incurable disease.
CHARMS INCORPORATED IS AN ORGANIZATION BUILT BY AND FOR REAL, STRONG WOMEN.
IN THIS SECTION
In 1962, Betty Watkins, an original Midnighters, proposed that Squaws apply for a charter and work towards the goal of organizing chapters in other cities. On May 28, 1962, Josephine Bagley, Ethyl R. Chavis, Elizabeth Giddens, Elayne Thomas, and Betty Watkins made an application to in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for a club Charter. July 19, 1962 Midnighters became Squaws, Inc.
In 1964, Rachel Stewart, sister of Laura Stewart, gathered a group of interested women in Philadelphia, PA. In June of that year, the Pittsburgh Squaws traveled to Philadelphia to install their first chapter. Thus, Rachel Stewart became their first president of the Philadelphia Chapter.
On July 2, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 signed, banning discrimination based on "race, color, religion, sex or national origin" in employment practices and public accommodations.
In October 1966, Bernice Thompson, a former Pittsburgher, was urged to organize a Cleveland chapter with Pittsburgh as the sponsor. Palestine Zellars was elected their first president. Irreparable internal strife, almost from the beginning, resulted in the dissolution of the Cleveland Chapter in the fall of 1969 by the Executive Board.
The “Chief” engineer for the founding and organizing of the Detroit Chapter was June Richards, cousin of Betty Watkins of the Pittsburgh Chapter. In 1967, Detroit became the third chapter of Squaws. Pittsburgh was the sponsoring Chapter and Helen Lothery was the first President of the Detroit Chapter
With the organization of four chapters, in July of 1968, Pittsburgh hosted the First National Biennial Conclave at the Pittsburgh Hilton Hotel. A total of forty-two Squaws from the Pittsburgh Chapter, Philadelphia Chapter, Detroit Chapter and Cleveland Chapter were in attendance. Squaws, Inc. donated $200.00 to its National Project the Legal Fund of the NAACP.
In July 1970, Philadelphia hosted the Second National Biennial Conclave, headquartered at the Warwick Hotel. Four chapters were represented: Pittsburgh, Detroit, Benton Harbor and Philadelphia. Attendance increased to sixty (60); for the second year, the Legal Fund of the NAACP was the national project. It received a contribution of $500.00 from Squaws, Inc. Helen Lothery of the Detroit Chapter of Squaws, Inc. was elected the new National President.
The Second National Biennial Conclave was met with anticipation and sadness. Squaw Jessie Hoover, General Conclave Chairperson and member of the Philadelphia Chapter became ill during the planning of the conclave and passed away. The Philadelphia Squaws honored her memory by continuing their conclave planning.
In 1972, New York Congresswoman Shirley Chisolm is the first African-American to campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Chisolm’s bid is unsuccessful.
By the end of 1970, three (3) new chapters were installed. Having complied with the provisions as set forth by the Executive Board for re-organization and re-acceptance into Squaws, original members of the Cleveland group along with a second group of women in Cleveland were installed as the Greater Cleveland Chapter. However, due to a state technicality the Greater Cleveland Chapter changed its name to the Northeastern Ohio (NEO) Chapter of Squaws. Mattie Hill and Thelma Williams played important roles in guiding the new group back into the national organization. Squaw Thelma Williams became the reorganized group’s first President.
1970 was a hectic year for Squaws, Inc. During that time four new chapters were accepted, and the second National Biennial Conclave was held. Detroit Squaw, Clair Butler, contacted Magnolia Westfield of Benton Harbor resulting in the formation of the Benton Harbor Chapter. Detroit became its sponsoring chapter. In June 1970, Benton Harbor was installed. Magnolia Westfield became their first President.
Quincey Eaves of Durham, North Carolina contacted Bettye McLaurin of the Charlotte Chapter for information concerning Squaws, Inc.; subsequently, in April 1972, the Durham Chapter came into the Squaw tribe with Charlotte as the sponsoring chapter. Dirham’s first president was Patricia Hill.
In July 1972, Detroit played host to the Third Biennial Conclave at the St. Regis Hotel in Detroit. By this time, there were eight chapters of Squaws and one hundred and five (105) members attended the Conclave. The first National Project was the Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation, to which one thousand ($1,000.00) dollars was contributed. Helen Lothery was re-elected National President and the SOTY (Squaw Of The Year) Awards were created and presented. Detroit members recognized all the charter members of the founding chapter by giving them charms.
Two chapters were installed in 1973 – Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas in May and Savannah, Georgia in October. Clair Butler of Detroit and her sister-in-law, Helen Jackson of Dallas, Texas were the two principal people involved in contacting and organizing Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter. They were sponsored by the Detroit Chapter and Jewel Day was the first president.
Lollie Cook and Lillian Alexander talked about Squaws until Lollie organized a group which was installed in the fall of 1973 with Lollie as president and the Charlotte Chapter as sponsor.
In 1972, Barbara Jordan and Andrew Young become the first African-American Congressional representatives from the south since 1898.
The Chapters met in Benton Harbor, Michigan in July 1974 at the Fourth Biennial Conclave. Ten (10) chapters were represented. The attendance numbered at one hundred and nine (109). The Squaws and Braves (Papooses, too) were all shocked by the tragic and untimely drowning of Brave Ben Davis, husband of Cecelia Davis of the Durham Chapter. At the luncheon, a representative from Howard University accepted a check in the amount of $2,000.00 for a Sickle Cell Research Program conducted at Howard University. Betty McLaurin was elected the new National President. SOTY Awards were again presented to designated members from each chapter. Conclave Headquarters were the Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge.
Squaws, Inc. held its first combination Executive Board Meeting-Installation, April 5-7, 1975 at the Kahler Green Oaks in Fort Worth, Texas. With the dissolution of the Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter, a charter was issued to each chapter; thereby formulating two chapters. There were sixteen ladies inducted into the Fort Worth Chapter. Helen Jackson was president of the Dallas Chapter and Jewel Day was president of the Fort Worth Chapter.
The second combination Executive Board Meeting-Installation was held August 1-3, 1975 at the International Inn in Washington, D.C. Sixteen ladies became members of the D.C. Chapter. Hattie Chaplin was the first president.
Jeanne Jackson, daughter of Pittsburgh Chapter’s charter member, Betty Watkins and Marie Horton, organized a group of young ladies in Houston, Texas. These sixteen ladies were installed at the Houston Oaks Hotel, November 15, 1975, in Houston Texas. Maria Horton was Houston’s first president.
In 1978, On September 15, Muhammad Ali becomes the first boxer to win the heavyweight championship three times when he defeats Leon Spinks at the Superdome in New Orleans.
The Fifth Biennial Conclave was held, July 22-25, 1976 at the Holiday Inn Lakeside, in Cleveland, Ohio. There were at that time, thirteen chapters and two hundred and fifteen (215) active members of Squaws. The National Project was Hypertension. SOTY Awards were presented to a member selected from each chapter. Bettye McLaurin of the Charlotte Chapter, was elected for a second term as the National President.
Executive Board Meeting was held in Atlanta, Georgia from April 15 – 17, 1977. The Atlanta Chapter of Squaws was installed April 15, 1977. Eighteen young ladies were installed. Atlanta became the fourteenth chapter of Squaws, Inc.
On June 24, 1977, in Fort Worth, Texas, Squaw Manaree Denton, National Chaplain, departed this life. Squaw Elizabeth Giddens of the Pittsburgh Chapter departed July 26, 1977.
The Springfield Chapter was installed September, 1977 at the Hotel Forum Thirty in Springfield, Illinois. Twelve ladies were inducted into the chapter. JoAnn Scott was the first president. Executive Board Meeting was held September 4, 1977 at the same location.
On July 17 – 20, 1980 , the Executive Board Meeting and the Seventh Biennial Conclave was held in Charlotte, North Carolina at the Radisson Plaza Hotel. Membership in Squaws as reported was 251. 158 Squaws were in attendance at this Conclave with 128 Braves and 56 Papooses. Squaw Joyce Gallant was elected President for the 1980-82 term.
Following the 1980 session, two of our Sister Squaws were lost in death – they were Squaw Dorothy Hall of Detroit and Squaw Monthra Jones of Toledo.
In 1982, Michael Jackson's album, Thriller, is released. It will eventually sell 45 million copies worldwide, becoming the best selling album in music history.
On July 16-19, 1981, an Installation, and Executive Board Meeting was held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This chapter was organized by Mildred Parrish and was sponsored by the Tulsa Chapter. Eighteen lovely ladies were installed in Squawdom. Mildred Parrish was the first president of this chapter.
Since our last gathering, death was experience by several chapters. Our losses included, Brave James Fulson of Charlotte, North Carolina; Squaw Mavis Aiken of Washington, D.C., and Squaw Ann Norris of Houston.
The Husbands of the Squaws are affectionately referred to as “Braves” and play an important and significant role outside of the official structure of Squaws, Incorporated.
On February 11, 1997, our name was officially changed to CHARMS, INCOPORATED.
In 1997, The Squaws officially changed their name to Charms, Inc. There were two things that we wanted to achieve in getting to actual name changes, 'Simplicity' and 'History'. The idea was to use a symbol that had long been associated with the organization; Something that every member could identified with.
Charms, Inc. is a non profit social, civic and cultural organization of women dedicated to high cultural standards and humanitarian service that will improve the quality of life for all.
The husband are Charmers, and the cildren are Gems.