In Black Twitter chronicles, today’s discussion centered around the African American organization Jack and Jill of America. Founded in 1938, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during The Great Depression, the organization was founded by a group of Black mothers who were looking to find and create enriching activities for their children. For instance, in the days when swimming pools were closed to Black children, they would organize swimming parties. In the ’90’s the organization hit a surge in popularity when parents were looking for ways to maintain their child’s cultural identity when living in predominately White areas. They also have a huge focus on philanthropic endeavors, community service, and scholarship funds.
The organization was founded with some of the best intentions but it wasn’t long before Jack and Jill gained a reputation for being exclusive and elitist. After all, membership was by invitation only and extremely selective. Members were often professionals, working as doctors, lawyers, business executives, teachers or stay home mothers. These women, with the exception of the stay home mom part, were often married to men who occupied these professions. In 1998, in an interview with The New York Times, the executive director of the organization, Barbara Newton, of Orlando, Florida, said that invitees have to have “at least a bachelor’s degree and share similar values.” She also said that members “must be someone who can afford the fees and the activities like horseback riding and skiing.”
Still, members often maintain the selectiveness is due to practicality not snobbishness because members meet in private homes.
Whether it was true or not, there is a very pervasive belief that members had to, at one point or another, pass a “paper bag” test and have “good hair.”
So, why are people talking about this old organization on Twitter? Well during the July 4 holiday weekend, someone started the hashtag #GrowingUpJackandJill.
And days later, the criticisms started coming to the forefront. Which, naturally, led to a back and forth from those who know and love the organization, those who’ve always had their doubts and even some who were involved as children but eventually turned away from the organization.
See what people had to say about it and let us know your thoughts on Jack and Jill.