Let’s celebrate 10 black leaders who got their start in Scouting

Throughout history, Scouts of all races and ethnicities have gone on to achieve success in their chosen field.

Former Scouts have become U.S. cabinet secretaries, flown in space, won Super Bowls and led major corporations.

It’s a legacy that makes current (and future) Scouts especially proud.

In celebration of Black History Month, I wanted to share a list of 10 prominent African-American leaders who got their start in Scouting. Enjoy!

Ernest Green, Distinguished Eagle Scout and member of the Little Rock Nine


Green made history as a member of the Little Rock Nine. That was the name given to the first black students ever to attend classes at Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. In 1958, Green became the first African-American student to graduate from the high school. In 1999, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President Bill Clinton.

Guion Bluford, Eagle Scout and the first African-American in space


After serving in the Air Force for 13 years, Bluford set his sights on space. He was named an astronaut and, in 1983, became the first African-American in space. In all, he logged four space flights totaling 688 hours.

Emery Moorehead, Distinguished Eagle Scout and Super Bowl champion


Moorehead played 12 seasons in the NFL, including his final eight with the Chicago Bears. He was on the Super Bowl XX-winning Chicago Bears team that was famous for its “Super Bowl Shuffle” song, though it doesn’t appear Moorehead himself was in the video. After his NFL career ended, Moorehead served Scouting. He’s on the Board of Directors of the Northeast Illinois Council.

Chuck Smith, Distinguished Eagle Scout and retired CEO


In Scouts, Smith got an interest in ham radio and building electronics. That turned into a successful career that led him to be president and CEO of the Fortune 500 company AT&T West. Smith, now retired, is a 2010 Silver Buffalo Award recipient.

Togo West, Distinguished Eagle Scout and former Secretary of Veterans Affairs


West, who served as Secretary of Veterans Affairs under President Bill Clinton, has continued to support Scouting as a member of the national executive board and as past president of the National Capital Area Council. He is a 2000 recipient of the Silver Buffalo Award.

Hank Aaron, Boy Scout and baseball legend


Aaron hit 755 home runs in his legendary baseball career — the second-most in history. Aaron is often incorrectly regarded as an Eagle Scout, but he has been a friend of Scouting throughout his life. The BSA presented him with the Silver Buffalo Award in 1984.

Martin Luther King Jr., Boy Scout and civil rights pioneer


King, the American civil rights hero, was a Boy Scout. From age 11 to age 13, King was registered as a member of Troop 151 in Atlanta. The troop met at Ebenezer Baptist Church, now part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. (See his original charter here.)

Colin Powell, Boy Scout and former Secretary of State


Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State and a retired four-star Army general, was in Boy Scouts as a young man. He is a 1992 recipient of the Silver Buffalo Award.

John H. Johnson, Boy Scout and magazine publisher


Johnson founded the Johnson Publishing Company, which went on to produce Ebony and Jet magazines, among others. A former Boy Scout, Johnson often met with Scouts in the Chicago area to describe how Scouting helps low-income communities find a bridge out of poverty. He died in 2005.

Ernie Banks, Scouting supporter and baseball great


Banks, known as “Mr. Cub” for his 19-year career with the Chicago Cubs, was one of the all-time greats. And not just in baseball, either. After his career ended, he showed his exceptional character by raising money for and speaking on behalf of the Boy Scout movement. Banks, a 1973 recipient of the Silver Buffalo Award, died in 2015.


About Bryan Wendell 3283 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.