or 1-800-392-4340, ext. 1361
Hometown Hero Dr. Gloria Randall Scott,
First African-American National President of Girl Scouts USA,
Visits Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council
Heroes, leaders and mentors are not born - they are cultivated by their life experiences. Such is the case of one woman from Houston's Third Ward, Dr. Gloria Dean Randall Scott, a San Jacinto Girl Scout as well as Girl Scout's first African-American National President.
Scott was recently in town to participate in a celebration of the completion of Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council's (GSSJC) successful $11.3 million Capital Campaign. She also participated in the Chicago-based TheHistoryMakers Project, which is a national project to interview and archive 5,000 interviews with well-known as well as unsung African-American HistoryMakers.
Dr. Scott's place in Girl Scout history will be celebrated in the new GSSJC Program Place built with Capital Campaign funds and scheduled to open in the summer of this year. The highly anticipated Program Place will feature a place for girls to learn, play and grow and will feature San Jacinto Council's history from its inception in the early 1900's through the present day.
Scott's history with the Girl Scouts began in 1953 when Gloria Dean, who attended Jack Yates Senior High School, became a Junior member of Girl Scout Troop #155. For many years, little Gloria had heard of Girl Scouts and longed to be a member of a troop. However, her parents didn't have expendable income to afford dues and a uniform.
"When I started working while in high school, one of the first things I did was join Girl Scouts," said Dr. Scott. "Although the troops were segregated, my experience was good and rich. I learned a lot from my troop leader, Mrs. Evans. We went on trips to the museum and did primitive camping at Camp Robinwood," she added.
Although Girl Scouts is proud to have been a pioneer in diversity and pluralism, having assembled its first African-American troop in 1917, it was a long process to achieve complete desegregation, which started in 1950's when Dr. Scott was entering adulthood. She was proud to serve as President of the Negro Girl Scout Senior Planning Board, as it was then known. Dr. Scott was also a delegate to the Region V Senior Girl Scout event in 1954-1955 at University of Oklahoma; and a delegate to the Texas State Senior Girl Scout Conference in Austin, Texas in 1955.
Following her graduation from Yates High School in 1955, she attended Indiana University and received an A.B. in Zoology in 1959, becoming the first African-American to graduate in Zoology. Between 1955 and 1965, Dr. Scott achieved many firsts as an African-American. Eventually, her path led her back to her beloved Girl Scouts where she was elected the first African-American National President from 1975 to 1978. "My biggest challenge was just getting there," she said with a laugh. "When I was first nominated, I wrote a letter asking about the status of black girls in Girl Scouts. I was assured that many changes had been made but many more were sure to come."
As an elected board member, Dr. Scott served on a volunteer basis and led the board in making Girl Scout policies. Prior to her tenure as President, a study was conducted that determined that the "critical masses" of people want to do the right thing, especially when it comes to racial issues. Therefore, 15 Girl Scout board positions were reserved for minorities. "I remember the Girl Scout's Triennial Meeting of 1969 in Seattle, Washington," said Dr. Scott. "I was excited about it because it was going to be the first interracial Triennial Meeting for the Girl Scouts. There were several black leadership organizations invited - NAACP, Urban League Black Coalition and Seattle's Today Show host who was a black female," she reflected. "Sixty cities were invited to see our One Hundred Voice Choir and extraordinary flag ceremony. However, a hush went through the crowd when the curtains opened to reveal an all white choir and all white flag girls."
After that Triennial, a group of African-American women came together to create guidelines for "Scouting for Black Girls." The group offered GSUSA 18 recommendations to achieve their true intention - an organization for ALL girls everywhere.
Dr. Gloria Randall Scott is still very active with Girl Scouts as a lifetime member of the National Board of Directors and is proud to represent this 95 year-old organization everywhere she goes. "My message to today's Girl Scout is to appreciate that you're getting good, honest exposure to all facets of life in which to build and develop your abilities," she said. "Girls should learn from the group dynamics how to negotiate in an interracial society. They should know they can be anything they want to be, including -- president."
Girl Scouts of the USA is the world's preeminent organization for girls, with a membership of more than 3.5 million girls and adults. Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Chartered by GSUSA to provide Girl Scouting locally, Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council is one of the largest Girl Scout councils in the country serving over 63,000 girl members and 18,000 adults in 25 southeast Texas counties. For more information call 1-800-392-4340 or visit www.gssjc.org.
GSSJC Pluralism Statement
Embracing and promoting pluralism is an integral part of every activity and plan of Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council, not disconnected or separate projects. Only individuals willing to accept and be educated about the basic tenet that Girl Scouting is for all girls may serve in volunteer leadership or staff positions.
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