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Orange’s Black Boy Scout Troop


Troop 111, the only all-Black Boy Scout troop in Orange County, was organized in November 1967. The founding Boy Scouts were Harry Gilmore, Joseph Gilmore, Dennis Hopkins, John Hopkins, Christopher Johnson, William Johnson, William Quarles, Jr., Delbert Walker, Robert Williams, Edward Jones, and Robert Shaultz. Within six months, dozens of other black youth joined the troop quickly bringing its membership to well over 40 Boy Scouts by early 1968.

The organizers of the troop viewed Scouting as a vehicle to provide black youth opportunities for betterment, character development, and positive influences. Meetings were held in the basement of the Nazareth Baptist Church on Church Street, and every scout was expected to wear a full uniform at every meeting and Scouting function. New scouts were sent to Mr. Coleman at Leggett’s Department store on Main Street, where they would purchase their uniform and other equipment. The troop took much pride in wearing the scout uniform completely and correctly. The picture below demonstrates their dedication to wearing a complete scout uniform.

The scout leaders were impactful on almost every scout and provided the adult role models that they were seeking. John T. Bracy, an ex-military man, was the first scoutmaster. Harold Johnson, also an ex-military man, was the troop’s second scoutmaster. Assistant scoutmasters were Joe Coleman, Isaiah Coleman, and Hunter Tibbs. William Alexander, with a voice like a “drill sergeant”, was the charter organization representative to the Nazareth Baptist Church. The Nazareth Baptist Church sponsored the troop and provided its meeting space. Mr. Joe Coleman may have been the person who planted the initial seed to organize a black Boy Scout troop in Orange. He was well-respected within the black community and is remembered as always well dressed, in a suit and tie.

Troop No. 111 provided what these young men needed, at the right time in their lives. The camaraderie of friends, the uniforms and collective purpose, the new and challenging outdoor experiences, as well as the support of the caring adults around them helped these scouts to develop the character traits and a self-reliance that influenced them through their youth and adulthood.


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