History books often miss the hidden figures involved in events that shaped our lives. You probably won’t be surprised that many of these unrecognized history makers are women and frequently women of color. Here in Atlanta, this is no exception.
Eighty years ago, noted Atlanta educator Bazoline Usher, the first Black woman to have an office at City Hall, had a dream to bring Girl Scouting to Black Girl Scouts. Through her efforts and the volunteer work of almost 30 area Black school teachers, the first troops formed in the fall of 1943 and became known as District V Girl Scouts.
Over the next 20 years, these girls and their leaders embraced the ideals of Girl Scouting: being prepared, helping others, acting in service, and taking steps towards early activism in a city divided by segregation.
In the 50’s the Georgia councils chose District V Girl Scout Roslyn Pope to represent the state at a national event. She was the only Black girl in attendance, making this one of her earliest experiences in a desegregated environment. You can read the AJC article about her experience here. A few years later, Roslyn Pope was a student leader at Spelman, involved in the beginnings of student activism. She penned An Appeal for Human Rights, the manifesto credited with launching the student sit-in movement in 1963.
Another Girl Scout, Madelyn Nix, was a senior in high school when she applied to become one of the first nine Black students to integrate Atlanta public high schools. With the memory of the harassment of a young Ruby Bridges in many minds, Atlanta held its breath as the Atlanta Nine began attending four whites-only schools. Learn more about the Atlanta Nine.
Other Girl Scouts like Vivian Welch Brinson and Celestine Bray Bottoms worked passionately, often behind the scenes, editing speeches, creating protest posters, and holding meetings in their homes or churches as students responded to the call of Civil Rights leaders.
Today, we celebrate these unsung heroes and are honored to work with Gene Kansas, Gene Kansas Real Estate, and the Loss Prevention to bring a mural to the side of the former Atlanta Daily World building, where the District V troops met. Click here to learn about it and if you know of someone who was a Girl Scout in District V, please reach out to our archives committee at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to keep you updated on the progress of the mural, an upcoming exhibit, and offer an opportunity for you or a loved one to share any District V Girl Scout memories.
In 2020, Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta recommitted to our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) policies and procedures. Since then, we’ve seen many successes in these efforts in both obvious and behind-the-scenes ways.
- Last summer we launched our inaugural Girl Scouts Destinations Camp, Journey to Justice which follows the Civil Rights trail in Atlanta and beyond, working with older girls in honing their social justice voice. We have a few spaces available for the June 25 - July 1 camp. Email email@example.com for more information. The deadline is June 11, 2023 at 11:59 p.m.
- With support from the Department of Labor, we implemented an outdoor job skills program, introducing young minority women to careers in camping and outdoor recreation.
- This followed a partnership with Home Depot to engage older girls, especially those who identify as Black or Latinx in construction trades.
- For our employees, we offered Juneteenth as a paid day off, before it became an official state holiday in Georgia, and we offer support for employees through six Employee Resource Groups. In addition, our staff continues to undergo trainings to best serve our wonderfully diverse membership.
- Our teen event, Girls Night Out, included a silent disco and other supportive activities for neuro-diverse Girl Scouts while our ongoing Teen Summit helps middle school Latinx girls develop the tools for a successful future.