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Modern Manhood and the Boy Scouts of America"Citizenship, Race, and the Environment, 1910-1930"$
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Benjamin René Jordan

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469627656

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469627656.001.0001

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The Right Sort of Colored Boy and Man

The Right Sort of Colored Boy and Man

African American Scouting

Chapter:
(p.194) 7 The Right Sort of Colored Boy and Man
Source:
Modern Manhood and the Boy Scouts of America
Author(s):

Benjamin René Jordan

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469627656.003.0008

From 1910 to 1924, Boy Scout national leaders allowed white-led local councils to include, exclude, or segregate African Americans as they saw fit-so most of the five thousand or so early African American Boy Scouts were in northern or western troops. The infrequent depictions of minorities as Boy Scouts and the crude stereotyping of black manhood as ignorant, primitive rural-dwellers in BSA publications and local practices such as minstrel shows paralleled this era’s child development theory of racial recapitulation that claimed minority boys were less capable of advanced character and citizenship. In 1925, however, two white Southern Scout leaders named Bolton Smith and Stanley Harris successfully applied for a grant from the Laura Spelman Rockefeller foundation and convinced national Scout officials to create an Inter-Racial Service office that encouraged Southern councils to permit more African Americans in segregated troops. These efforts, relatively progressive and liberal for that era, significantly increased the number of African American members. Despite policies allowing local councils to restrict their access to uniforms, camping, and rank and merit badge progress, many African Americans embraced the opportunity Scouting provided to work toward greater political, economic, and cultural status.

Keywords:   African American Boy Scout, Black manhood, Minstrel show, Racial segregation, Inter-Racial Service, Bolton Smith, Stanley Harris, Rockefeller Foundation

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