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Girl Scouts Honor Area Teen with Highest Award

Taylor Player, a graduate of Oak Mountain High School, earned the Girl Scout Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. (Provided Photo)

Taylor Player, a graduate at Oak Mountain High School, earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. Player earned her Gold Award for her project, “The Four Little Girls Patch Program.”

Her project focused on the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing. In 1963, members of the Ku Klux Klan placed dynamite on the side of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. The church had a predominantly black congregation and served as a meeting place for civil rights leaders. Four girls from the congregation were killed in the blast.

The bombing marked a turning point in Civil Rights history. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave the eulogy and called the girls “victims of one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity. They are the martyred heroines of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity.” The bombing contributed to support for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Player was touched by this story, particularly by the fact that one of the girls, Carole Robertson, was a Girl Scout like herself. Player realized that not enough people knew about this tragic turning point in Civil Rights history and wanted to take action to spread awareness so the Four Little Girls’ story would not be forgotten.

Player began the process by learning more about the girls, including meeting with their families and getting first-hand accounts. She met one-on-one with Senator Doug Jones, who successfully prosecuted two Ku Klux Klan members and put them behind bars, after the case was reopened nearly 40 years after the bombing. She talked to him about his role in the case and to ask that the Four Little Girls be in the state-wide curriculum.

“He told me that my generation, people like myself, we’re going to change the world,” Player said of their meeting.

Player created a Girl Scouts patch program so girls in Birmingham and all over the country can learn about the Four Little Girls. Some of the activities to earn the patch include: watching the Spike Lee documentary, visiting a Civil Rights museum, talking to a Civil Rights activist or someone who was alive during that era, visiting a historical African American church, and discussing why the story of the Four Little Girls is important today.

“No matter what you pick to earn your Girl Scout Gold Award, it will leave a legacy, it will make the world a better place,” Player said.

Player is interested in studying law and is attending the University of Alabama this fall.

“By earning the Girl Scout Gold Award,” said Karen Peterlin, chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama, “Taylor has become a community leader. Her accomplishments reflect leadership and citizenship skills that set her apart.”

The girl who goes for the Gold embraces challenges, achieves excellence, and works diligently to make the world a better place, in her own unique way. Her leadership, vision, and boundless energy is an inspiration to all Girl Scouts. Each girl earning her Gold Award demonstrates excellence through a leadership project totaling more than 65 hours. Girls who earn their Gold Award are also recognized by the President of the United States, the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Armed Services, state legislatures, colleges and universities for admission and scholarship opportunities, and the American Legion. Some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award recipients, and girls who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements.

About Girl Scout Gold Award

Since 1916, Girl Scouts have been making meaningful, sustainable change in their communities and around the world. The Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout can earn, acknowledges the power behind each recipient’s dedication to not only empowering and bettering herself, but also to making the world a better place for others. These young women are courageous leaders and visionary change makers. They are our future, and it looks bright! To learn more about the Girl Scout Gold Award, visit girlscoutsnca.org.

About Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama

There are over 9,700 girls and 3,800 adults in 36 counties in the state of Alabama who believe in the power of every G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, and Leader) to change the world. Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama is a United Way partner. To volunteer, reconnect, donate, or join, visit www.girlscoutsnca.org or call 800-734-4541.