African American

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John Brown

John Brown grew up in the West Woodlawn community located on the South Side of the City of Chicago and has been a lifetime leader in the BSA. Brown grew up during the time when Chicago Council was segregated and as an African American he became part of Chicago’s segregated Douglas Division when he joined the Boy Scouts in 1945. Brown earned Eagle Scout in 1949 and became a member of Owasippe Lodge in 1950. He received his Brotherhood Honor in 1964 and kept his Vigil Honor in 1972. In 1994 Brown received the OA Distinguished Service Award (DSA). He received the Silver Antelope Award in 1999 and the Founders Award from Michigamea Lodge 110 in 2007.

An Arrowman's Profile - Desegregation of OA

Dr. David Briscoe grew up in Mars Hill, North Carolina, a small agrarian community 18 miles north of Asheville. He joined the Boy Scouts in 1965, earned Eagle Scout in 1968, and became a member of Tsali Lodge 134 in 1968. He was the first African American inductee and Vigil Honor member in that lodge which had existed for thirty years, at a time where segregation still dominated the South. He received Brotherhood in 1969, and the Vigil Honor in 1973. What follows is Dr. Briscoe’s Scout story as told in own words.

Randolph Scott

Another African American Arrowman who made significant contributions to Scouting and the Order was Randolph Scott. An Eagle Scout from Clairton, Pennsylvania, as a youth he was a member of Shingis Lodge and was elected to area chief. Scott attended the 1962 National Planning Meeting and was chosen to serve as the deputy conference vice chief of training for the 1963 National Order of the Arrow Conference (NOAC).

Ron Temple

Ronald J. Temple has been a lifelong educator and Scouter. An African American, he grew up in Chicago and worked at Camp Owasippe for several summers during the late 1950s-early 1960s. He earned the Explorer Silver Award as a youth and was an active Arrowman, receiving the Vigil Honor in 1960 with the name “The Seeker”.

Temple served as an area chief and had the fortunate opportunity to attend the 1960 National Planning Meeting. At that meeting Ron Temple was elected by his peers to serve as National Conference Chief for the 1961 National Order of the Arrow Conference (NOAC).

Takodah Chapter of Owasippe

When Carroll A. Edson became a Field Executive in 1921 in Chicago Council it was only natural that he would bring Wimachtendienk with him. Chicago in 1921 had five geographic districts and a sixth “division” that was an overlay of the entire council. This division was the Douglas Division and it was for African American Scouts. No matter where in Chicago you lived, if you were Black then you were segregated into the Douglas Division.

First known African American Vigil Honor

On October 24th and 25th, 1936 the Owasippe Lodge held a Fellowship Conference. The conference is remarkable for two things. The first was that Owasippe invited other lodges to attend their fellowship. Ay-Ashe Lodge from Manitowoc, Wisconsin and Tomkita Chara Lodge from Wausau, Wisconsin attended. Later, after National Chief Joseph Brinton read of the Fellowship Conference he was eager to share the concept of multi-lodge events in the National Bulletin.

The second noteworthy event of the Fellowship weekend was Emerson James was elected and kept his Vigil the night of October 24 through the morning of October 25th. In so keeping, Emerson James became the earliest known and presumptively the first African American Vigil Honor member.

First Known African American Second Degree

In November of 1932, the Third Biennial Conference for Region 7 was held at Great Lakes Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, Illinois. 155 Arrowmen attended from five different lodges plus Grand Chieftain Robroy Price in attendance.

On the night of November 12, 1932 fifteen Arrowmen, selected by their lodge or chapter for initiation into the Second Degree, were introduced to the assembly of Arrowmen that included the Grand Chieftain. Among those fifteen were three members of Owasippe Lodge’s Takodah Chapter, the segregated chapter of Chicago. Those three men were Dr. William H. Benson, Emerson James and Horatio W. Isbell. These three men are the oldest known African American members of the Order to become Brotherhood Honor members. That night they received their initiation and sealed their membership in the Order.

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