Girl Scouting was once segregated African-American Girl Scouts chat at a camp named after Josephine Holloway, who pioneered scouting for girls of color. (Nashville Banner Archives/Nashville Public Library/Photo by Peter Barreras/Invision for Netflix, Girl Scouts of the USA/AP Images)
Girl Scouting was once segregated
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Has a Girl Scout knocked on your door within the last few weeks? With cookie season in full swing, it's not unusual to see scouts on the move in neighborhoods and set up in front of supermarkets plying their delicious wares. But for one group of girls, cookie sales and badges weren't always a possibility.
 
Juliette "Daisy" Gordon Low, who founded the Girl Scouts, was raised in Savannah, Georgia, and her father served in the Confederate Army during her childhood. Irritated by her rigid Southern upbringing and the strict expectations of upper-class women in the United States, she started the Girl Scouts in 1912 after learning about scouting from its British founder.
 
Like today's Girl Scouts, Low's initial organization declared itself a space for all girls. But the reality was different for girls of color.
 
"It is safe to say that in 1912, at a time of virulent racism, neither Daisy Low nor those who authorized the Constitution considered African-American girls to be part of the 'all,'" writes Stacy A. Cordery in her book, "Juliette Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts." Low feared that an official position that included African-American girls as scouts would make Southern troops quit, so she left the decision up to state and local councils.
 
According to the Girl Scouts' official blog, African-American girls were members of the third U.S. troop formed in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1913, and the first all-African-American Girl Scout troops were established as early as 1917. However, the first African-American troop chartered south of the Mason-Dixon Line didn't occur until 1932, the National Park Service notes. That's when a bank president, newspaper editor named Maggie L. Walker, fought to form Girl Scout Bird Troop, Number 34.
 
Walker wasn't the only woman who fought for a space for African-American Girl Scouts in the South. A woman named Josephine Holloway led the effort to make Southern states include African-American scouts. Not only did she organize multiple troops without the organization's official sanction, but she fought a long battle with the Girl Scouts to have them recognized. She persisted for years until one of the region's first African-American Girl Scout troops was established in 1942, the Girl Scouts' official blog writes. Today, a camp bears her name and she is recognized as a pioneer within the organization.
 
As D.L. Chandler writes for BlackAmericaWeb, Sarah Randolph Bailey also played an important role in the desegregation of the Girl Scouts. Like Holloway, she created her own alternative organization called the Girl Reserves that was eventually admitted into the national organization. Bailey also founded the first day camp specifically for black Girl Scouts in 1945 and eventually won the organization's highest honor, the Thanks Badge.
 
By the 1950s, a national effort to desegregate all Girl Scout troops began. As the African American Registry reports, by 1956, Girl Scouts had become part of the early Civil Rights movement, with Martin Luther King Jr. calling the scouts "a force for desegregation."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why did the Girl Scouts adopt cookie selling as a fundraiser?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (19)
  • zakrym-ste
    3/10/2017 - 01:23 p.m.

    This makes sense. If everything else was segregated, then why would that not be. It is obvious that it would be separated.

  • angell2-ver
    3/13/2017 - 08:12 a.m.

    Girl scout is a fun girl's group. But did you know before girl scout was separated by the races. Girl scout is a good activity to know people. And the races, cause a big difference in the world before.

  • jessiec-ver
    3/13/2017 - 08:14 a.m.

    this article talked about what Girl Scouts are and where they came from.

  • georgez-ver
    3/13/2017 - 08:15 a.m.

    from this article, I know girls sell cookies to earn money to help the girl Scouts.

  • vaneises-
    3/13/2017 - 08:44 a.m.

    The Girl Scouts adopted cookie selling as a fundraiser because cookies taste good and are relatively cheap.

  • majeda2-ver
    3/13/2017 - 08:52 a.m.

    This article is about 1912 when at a time of virulent racism,against African-American girls.

  • cassidyk-pla
    3/13/2017 - 01:18 p.m.

    This article talked about the desegregation of Girl Scout Troops. I found it inspiring to read because when I was younger I was an active member in my Girl Scout Troop. It makes me sad to think that not every girl had that same opportunity and experience. The women that helped make a movement to desegregate Girl Scouts were civilly engaged and made a true impact on something that is still going on today. They made it possible for every younger girl to experience an organization that teaches so many good values and lessons.

  • kimberlyk-pla
    3/13/2017 - 01:20 p.m.

    I thought that this article was very interesting. It was all about how most of the original Girl Scout clubs were segregated. Because the founder Juliette Gordon Low left this decision up to the states and individual chapters (in order to get more participation from white students), many of the first clubs were segregated. I was a Girl Scout in elementary school and I did not know this information, so it was cool to be able to learn more about the Girl Scout organization. Although it might be difficult for us in this time period to understand why this was, during that time period segregation was common. Despite how terrible this likely was for African American girls who wanted to join Girl Scouts, it gave them a perfect opportunity to stand up against some of the injustices that affected them.

  • ksenyas1-pla
    3/13/2017 - 08:24 p.m.

    This article is about the segregation that occurred within girl scout troops thought history. Despite the girls scout program being established in order to create an activity for "all girls," the program didn't originally allow African American girls to be a part of the girl scout troops. Many people stood up for this right, and eventually all African American girl scout troops were formed, and then finally unified groups were formed. This relates to civic engagement since there were direct people who stood up for the rights for the African American girls, and they established a change within their community. This is a direct example of the type of change that this fundamentals of communication course is trying to achieve. Girl Scouts is also an iconic program in Americas history.

  • beatricep1-pla
    3/13/2017 - 10:35 p.m.

    This article focuses on the creation of the girl scouts, in honor of their current cookie sales. A girl named Juliette "Daisy" Gordon Low founded the girl scout in 1912. Her main reason to create the club was to slightly spite her upbringing in Southern America. Because she was from the south, she didn't necessarily include African Americans. But, she didn't dismiss them out of hand either. Rather, Low left the decision to include African American girls up to the city/troop.

    In relation to civil engagement, this story speaks of a girl willing to speak up and change her "worldly" education. In a time where African Americans found themselves segregated, she introduced a force that could ultimately unite people, as it did many years later.

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