In 1985, African American women were playing virtually no significant management roles in education and local government in northern Virginia. Since large numbers of highly-educated, professional, and extremely talented Black women resided there, a group of concerned African American women concluded that officials in decision-making positions were unaware of, or had overlooked this pool of talent as a vaiable information resource. The response to this problem was to found Black Women United For Action (BWUFA), an organization designed to increase the visibility and involvement of the African American family - and in particular, the African American woman. In doing so, the 12 founding BWUFA members believed they could enhance the quality of life for all.
BWUFA's focus has grown to include surrounding counties and cities in the metro Washington, DC area, as well as several states along the eastern seaboard and Canada. Its resources and talent base has expanded as well.
In 1990, BWUFA became aware of the existence of the Slave Memorial at Mount Vernon, and immediately realized that this important monument was receiving little to no recognition. BWUFA garnered the support of the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association (caretakers of the Mount Vernon estate) and implemented an annual commemoration of the Slave Memorial. As part of Women's History Month, BWUFA instituted the annual Women We Admire Luncheon. In 1992, Sheila Coates, BWUFA President, became a member of the Council of Presidents, a national women's organization representing over 100 women's groups.
In 1993, BWUFA became partners with the White House Office for Women's Initiatives and Outreach. Since then, BWUFA has been called on regularly by the White House as an important resource. In September, 1997, 12 BWUFA members were invited to the Oval Office to present President Clinton and Vice President Gore with a replica of the Slave Memorial.