As Black History Month comes to a close, punctuated triumphantly by Moonlight winning a best picture Oscar—the first picture with an all-black cast to win this award—we celebrate the many ways our culture has been enriched by the ideas, talents and myriad other contributions of African Americans.
From its inception, Girl Scouts has been an organization for “all of America, and all the world.” Juliette Gordon Low’s first troop meetings back in 1912 broke through class, racial and cultural barriers, offering any and all girls an opportunity to develop leadership skills. Throughout our Movement’s history, our diversity has made us stronger.
Massachusetts is part of this important history. According to Ebony magazine, in 1913, African American girls became members of the third U.S. Girl Scouts troop in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
In Girl Scouts, we believe, “if you can see it, you can be it,” and we know this is especially important for girls of color. Recently, a donor family with strong alumnae ties to our Movement made it possible for Girl Scouts from the FaB Factor programs in Dorchester and Quincy to see the film Hidden Figures, the story of three African American women mathematicians who worked at NASA and were instrumental in launching astronaut John Glenn into space. It was a powerful experience for the girls, who said: “It was great to see that women who look like me worked at NASA,” “Girls can do anything” and “If it wasn’t for the changes [in society], I wouldn’t have my two best friends.”
Girl Scouts is a place for every girl to learn new things and reach her potential. We are inspired by the words of the great African American poet, civil rights activist, and memoirist Maya Angelou, whose belief in the importance of resiliency, open-heartedness and diversity parallel Girl Scout values. She said, “In diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”