Susie LaBord lived in the Summerhill neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia, the heart of the model cities program. Due to her own determination and the support of her parents, she was able to get her education in Atlanta in the subject of her passion: early childhood education. A warm, open, and compassionate woman, she recognized the needs of the children of her community. Most of them lived in poverty and came from troubled homes, and she wanted them to be able to have a good education despite their circumstances. When she left university, she found that there were no positions open in the county or state levels, and that Atlanta had no early development programs. Miss Susie, as everyone called her, took it upon herself to create a multi-service daycare program in Atlanta, the first of it's kind in the nation. The program had the educational, cognitive, and nutritional support that these children needed. She involved their parents at every level, creating a support system that gave both the children and the parents the tools they needed to handle the challenges ahead.
Miss Susie was not one for marches or protests, but she was a revolutionary in the field of education. She may have been everyone’s “Big Momma,” but she knew when politicians were taking her for a ride and was a no nonsense type of woman. She fought tirelessly to better the lives of underprivileged children. It is because of this devotion to her field that she excelled. Her daycare classes were so successful that they were used as the model for the Headstart Program. She was also honored several times by the government because of her work to push legislation through for better education. The Office of Economic Opportunity under President Lyndon Johnson honored her. She also had resolutions from the Atlanta city council, county government, and the legislative Black Caucus honoring her work. For Miss Susie, poverty was not something that should limit the choices and opportunities that children have. Through her tireless efforts, she was able to bring hope to the children she was so passionate about.
If you'd like to hear more stories about the women of the civil rights movement, the YWCA Pasadena Foothill-Valley will be having a Gallery Showing and Reception entitled "Visions of the Past, Inspiration for the future: The Women of the Civil Rights Movement" on February 28 from 5:00 - 8:00 pm at 1015 N. Lake Ave Suite 105. You can RSVP by calling 626-296-8433.