Girl Guides First Black Company

Continued Historical Heritage Reflections

Ms. Wenona Robinson Teacher and Guider

It comes as no surprise when one researches the history of Black Bermudians and the history of the first Black Girl Guide Company the shock of learning about the racism that exsisted and there was no except hearing of the struggle and insults that was endured but not unbelievable. There was one woman who made up her mind that she would not let that hinder her and she would achieve her goal no matter how long it may take.

Mrs. Matilda Neverson a well educated school teacher that came to Bermuda from Antigua along with her other siblings made it her mission to succeed. There was already a troop of girl guides in Bermuda which started in 1919 but it was for White Girls only. When Mrs. Neverson asked if she could join a group of black girls she was told in no uncertain terms NO! at the time Lord Baden Powell, founder of the Scouts and Guides, was visiting the Governor of Bermuda Sir Astley Cubitt and Lady Cubitt, with his wife Lady Baden Powell they got to know Mrs. Neverson and hearing about her efforts to form a company, Lady Baden Powell was informed about the denial and comments and spoke on behalf of the Black Guide Troop.

Mrs. Neverson Teacher -Guider

A meeting was called at Camden, of the White leaders along with Lady Baden Powell, Lady Cubitt and Mrs. Neverson, there was still lots of resistance from the White Leaders and remarks made that the Black Girls were not worth it. Never the less with persistence Mrs. Neverson’s bid was granted after another meeting was held at a black theatre The Colonial Opera House. The Company which was named after Mrs. Neverson’s School the 1st. Excelsior Girl Guide Company was formed in 1931 and formally registered in 1932. Even though this came about the White leaders were still trying to avoid being in any kind of unison with the Black Guides and requested that there be two separate church services be held on Thinking Day’ with the Whites worshipping at 11.00 0’clock A.M. and the Blacks at 4.00 P.M Governor Cubitt hearing this denied the request immediately and informed the White Leaders that there would be one service for all to be held annually on the Sunday nearest the 24th. May holiday. It was almost like a take it or leave it decision. The groups would not be separated that was not the goal of the guiding organization.

Another Company the 2nd. Excelsior Guides was formed and was under the direction of Ms. Wenona Robinson in 1934. A Brownie Pack was also formed but like most organizations the latter started and dwindled, they have recently started to re-organize. Group meetings of brownie’s are held in various churches or school assembly halls throughout the Island.