Girl Scouts has been changing the game since its inception in 1912, when founder, Juliette Gordon Low, established an organization that would service ALL girls. Five years later, pioneers like Maggie L. Walker and Josephine Groves Holloway led the efforts to make Southern states include African-American Girl Scouts, with the first all African American Girl Scout Troop forming in 1917. And just last August, Judith Batty became the first Black CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA.
Our mission has always been to build the courage, confidence, and character of girls, and three Community Organizers from our staff gathered together to uplift and encourage young Black girls in a space often viewed as a pain point and a source of joy in the African American community. Read on to hear their story!
The Best Day Ever
From headscarves and wraps to natural afros, curls, and locks, hair in the Black community has been a sacred direct connection to the ancestors who used their hair to showcase creativity, link together family lineage, and as a tool used as means for survival. The Pigtails, Puffs, and Ponytails event, spearheaded by Community Organizers Laureen Head, Shana Jenkins, and Kisa Fitzgerald, was created to highlight the evolution of what is viewed as “natural beauty,” and to instill the courage in girls to live out loud!
Shana explained that hair braiding practices in the African American community originated in Africa, and is passed down through generations of family members. “Hair-braiding is an intimate, nurturing, and peaceful form of communication,” Laureen adds. “It’s almost a rite of passage to learn how to braid hair, so the event was a really great way to connect with our community,” Kisa continues.
The first installment of this virtual hair-love event took place on Thursday, Nov. 19, and all guests received a hair-braiding kit and other goodies in the mail. What ensued was an unforgettable evening for everyone gathered: families from 37 communities and 7 states engaged in discussions about African American history and culture, favorite hairstyles, the significance of the Afro in the 1960s and 70s, ending with a hair-braiding tutorial. As one girl said in the comments of the Zoom call, it was the “best day ever” (written with over 50 R’s!).
“[This event] allows the girls to have fun with something that is not always understood but is a part of who they are. We want girls to learn to be comfortable and confident with one of the very things about themselves that makes them unique and allows them to stand out from everyone else,” says Shana. Kisa continues: “Hair, and the way you wear your hair, is a reflection of your personal style and self-expression in the African American community. We connect with each other through our hair. I hope that girls are able to learn more about Girl Scouts while connecting and embracing their hair history.”
“Many people in our community don’t know the [Girl Scout] program, don’t know we build leaders. So we are showing girls that the [Girl Scout] program is valuable,” adds Laureen. Kisa remarks: “I think [this event], along with Girl Scouts really, amplifies the message that you are important and accepted as you are.”
Look out for the next installment of the Pigtails, Puffs, and Ponytails virtual event in January! We can’t wait to see you!
Thank you to Laureen, Kisa, and Shana for speaking to us about this awesome event!