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Jack And Jill Celebrates 85 Years of Black Youth Excellence

by Dee Dee Bass Wilbon

On January 24, Jack and Jill of America Inc. celebrated its 85th anniversary. Over the last decade, I have been proud to call myself a Jack and Jill mom and include myself among some of the most impressive Mama Bears in the world.

In 1938, when Marion Turner Stubbs Thomas founded Jack and Jill in Philadelphia based on a concept from Louise Truitt Dench, they could hardly know the monumental impact that the organization would have on thousands of Black youth and their families. Today Jack and Jill consist of 262 chapters across seven regions. Our membership of more than 17,000 Black mothers has the same dreams that any mom would have for her child.

We want to provide our children with experiences and opportunities to expand their world. When I decided to join Jack and Jill of America, Inc., it was a deliberate action on my part. My sister and I grew up with friends in the organization, and I remember them enjoying their experiences. I recall hearing about the conferences they attended, ski trips and going to New York City for a party at the Copacabana with other kids from around the world. My son and daughter have enjoyed these fun, educational and cultural experiences. But the most critical impact that Jack and Jill has had on my children is allowing them to see everyday Black families debunking the media narrative.

As the media tells Black kids that they are the oppressed class destined for mediocrity, my kids learn the exact opposite through Jack and Jill. Through Jack and Jill, my children have developed lifelong friendships with regular black kids, and they see that normal Black kids are quite extraordinary.

Dee Dee Bass Wilbon is co-founder of Bass Public Affairs, co-host of Policy and Pound Cake, co-author of Prayer and Pound Cake, and the features of editor of BPALiveWire. A Jack and Jill mom, Diamond Life member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and proud Fisk University Bulldog, Dee Dee lives with her husband Brian in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. They have four kiddos.

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