By Jordan Brown
The San Gorgonio Girl Scouts took the time to meet with troop leaders, former scouts, and scout parents about diversity and inclusion of scouts of color. One hundred people, mostly women, gathered this last weekend for a Diversity Summit with San Gorgonio Girl Scouts Chief Executive Officer Cynthia Harnisch Breunig.
The Summit is a continuation of an over half-century conversation about how girls and women of color fit in scouting. The first scouts were admitted in the early 1940’s in the southeastern United States. Racial inclusion was not national scouting policy until many years later. In the Inland Empire, there were various board members of the Boys and Girls Scouts who encouraged the development of scouting efforts on the Westside of San Bernardino, the area’s Black mecca. Cheryl and Hardy Brown, co-owners of Brown Publishing Company that publishes the Black Voice News, were among those who started troops and encouraged scouting in the area.
Ms. Brown addressed last weekend’s gathering with the story of how her eldest daughter, Lynn, first joined her father at Boy Scout events because none were available for girls in her neighborhood. It was not until Ms. Brown helped form Troop 252 at Rio Vista Elementary School that girls and their families had opportunity to engage the leadership development and programming of this lauded organization. Additionally, she shared how she was impressed enough with scouting to remain a troop leader for over a decade and being honored as a “Green Angel” for dedicated service to the organization. She was also a missionary ambassador to Cuernavaca in Morelos, Mexico on behalf of the City of San Bernardino and the Girl Scouts.
The Cuernavaca visit was an opening for other Mexican cities to become sister cities of San Bernardino and help foster understanding and respect across cultures. Ms. Brown constantly made the point that the Girl Scouts were in unique position to promote tolerance and affirmation irrespective of background.
The meeting was a positive step in reminding all involved with the Girl Scouts to honorably try to serve God and country, help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law.
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