The Girl Friends, Incorporated was founded in New York City during the Harlem Renaissance in 1927 by eleven young women who valued friendship and community. What began as a conversation “over a pot of stew” among four girl friends in the home of co-founder Eunice Shreeves is now an organization comprised of more than 1,400 women. Today, it is one of the oldest and most highly respected organizations of African American women in the United States. Incorporated on September 23, 1938 under the legal guidance of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (then an attorney and the Boy Friend of Baltimore Girl Friend Vivian Marshall), chapters began to spring up in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston, New Jersey and New Haven. Currently there are 45 chapters across the country.
Though at its inception The Girl Friends was to be a social organization, it expanded its mission quickly and added charitable, civic and cultural activities to its agenda. In fact, because giving back to the community became such a great part of the organization’s spirit, in February 1988, The Girl Friends Fund, Inc. was established as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization to facilitate charitable contributions to young African Americans pursuing their dreams of a college education. The Girl Friends Fund is supported through generous donations from members and the general public.
Since its formative years, the chain of friendship has grown to embrace a continent. Girl Friends are formidable and phenomenal women who have founded schools, lead colleges, earned all levels of academic and professional degrees, written books, started and sustained their own businesses, saved lives, been elected to Congress, and served in the cabinet of the President of the United States. They are devoted wives, sisters, aunts, mothers and most importantly, friends. As the lyrics to the Girl Friends hymn states, “she must be quite a girl”.
To celebrate and renew bonds of friendship, each spring all Girl Friends are invited to come together at the annual Conclave. Since the first Conclave in 1933 in New York City – where the organization’s colors (emerald and/or apple green) and flower (the Marshall Neal Rose, commonly known as the Yellow Tea Rose) were adopted – each chapter in turn plays hosts to hundreds of Girl Friends in their city. In 2029, the Atlanta Chapter is scheduled to host the Conclave.