Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Black History Month

Girl Scouts at a GSSJC camp in the 1940s.
February is Black History Month, and we celebrate with the rest of the nation in observing the contributions of African Americans in U.S. history.

In 1912, when our founder, Juliette Gordon Low, declared Girl Scouts "something for the girls of America and all the world," she meant it. And though extreme adversity and oppression would be the rule of law for many years to come, “something for everyone” has been at the heart of Girl Scouting from day one.

A Brownie Girl Scout troop from Pilgrim Congregational Church.
Looking back, our first troop for African American girls was formed in 1917, 47 years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, and by the 1950s, GSUSA began a national effort to desegregate all Girl Scout troops. Not long after, in 1956, Martin Luther King Jr. described Girl Scouts as "a force for desegregation."

In more recent times, GSUSA has partnered with historically black colleges and universities, companies and organizations including Wilberforce University, Clark Atlanta University, Essence magazine, the National Urban League, the United Negro College Fund, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and 100 Black Men of America, Inc., to make Girl Scouts a part of the African American community. These partnerships have made our Movement richer with the addition of a multitude of new volunteers and scores of new Girl Scouts.

Source: Girl Scouts of the USA

Dr. Scott, front left, with her Girl Scout troop.
The first African-American troop formed in our Council was in 1935 under the sponsorship of a church in Beaumont, Texas. The church model continues to be a successful way of providing the Girl Scout experience to girls in southeast Texas.

In 1949, 200 acres in Willis, Texas was donated to the Council by four prominent African-American businessman. The Council conducted a contest to the name the property and Camp Robinwood was the winner. 

The San Jacinto Council is also the home of the first African-American president of the Girl Scouts of the USA, Dr. Gloria Dean Randall Scott.  Dr. Scott’s parents could not afford to put Gloria in Girl Scouts, so when Gloria started working as a high school student, the first thing she did was join Girl Scouts in 1953. You can read more about Dr. Scott here.

These moments in history have paved the way for the thousands of girls who have experienced unique opportunities though Girl Scouting. These experiences have given them the tools and skills to excel in academics, industry and life.

A special THANK YOU to our amazing GSSJC History Committee for helping us find these photos to share.