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At the Elders' Feet: Conversations Across the Generations

Diversity for Equity Grant through Fairmont State University

Susie captures the faith, grace, elegance, style, and of refinement of the traditional culture of African American life. Her love of learning, her willingness to explore and seek out new and enriching experiences is something that she shares with the community. Her vision for that community is global ranging from Japan; to Oxford, England, Paris, France, Spain; to Haiti, Cuba; and to Morocco and Ghana in Western Africa. She is just as comfortable with our youth as with her elders. When I got to know Ms. Susie Green, she had her grandchildren with her for the summer as well as her mother, all living together. As many grandmothers, she teaches, guides and opens the world to others. The four generations of many families in the Black community enrich their everyday life and help build their strength and resilience. Her story was an excellent example for our Fairmont students to learn about. I am sure there is much more she could share with us.

Susie’s resilience resides in her determination and hard work, in her faith and her ability to relate to people.

Working at the Seat of Power in America

Power and People

So, I saw power there [working every day on the Hill (Capital Hill in Washington D.C.)]. I remember seeing Walter Mondale. Our office was situated by Walter Mondale's “getaway” office. They had what they called “cubbie offices” for the senators and Walter Mondale and Hubert Humphrey - they both had offices next to the office that we worked in. And we would see them come in with... fifths of liquor...  that their offices would be furnished with liquor and blankets - like if they wanted to get away and come down or whatever, and so you saw the power.

You heard about the power. And I remember when Lyndon Johnson died, they, they rolled his casket on a wagon through the - down, I think, Pennsylvania Avenue, but I was there. I came within...well, I could touch. And then the thing is, back then, they didn't have all the security that they have now..

That that has just tripled since I was there in the sixties. Sixty eight, sixty nine, seventy, seventy one, seventy two -  I was on the Hill then. So those things impacted me in the sense of they're just people. The people that work on the Hill are just people, the people that make the laws are people and people like us. If we don't go and lobby and stand up for the things that we feel are right to stand up for, who will do that? And I saw that the different senators’ offices would respond to letters that you write; that their constituents, if they wanted that, like, for instance, the Vietnam War was going on.

And, you know, there were letters that came in to different offices that were calling for an end to the war, and so there was discussion, there was buzz about ending the war. … Being close to it affected me in the sense that we do have more power than we think. But because if you've not touched that power or not felt empowered, you know, then then it's easy for us to go away hopeless or to feel that this democracy is not working for me.

But I'm encouraged even where we are right now politically, you know, even with the virus and all. We have power and we cannot lose faith in democracy, hope in democracy. And I just wanted to you know, I don't want to preach, but that that's how those things my life has affected me.

   Manners will take you where a degree might not.

[Going to an all black school in the time of segregation]…We received - all of our books were second hand. They were just given to us from the white schools and we would see the kid’s names in it and we would see, you know, (knowing that those books were going to colored schools), that would be little nasty notes, and little things like that that were written in those books when we got them, we saw them and of course, that messes with your self-esteem.

Podcast by Daisy and Alec

                                                                                            Daisy and Alec created a short audio piece based on their conversation with Susie Green.




Susie Green:

Green’s life can best be materialized by the experiences she went through and grew from to be the person she is today. Her life is one of faith and pursuit. One of Green’s story is represented by a tip jar in the middle of the table with cash surrounding it. The tip jar tells the story of when Susie once took the tips off Dairy Queen tables because she thought that it was the Lord providing money for her. Other items in the still life tell of her hobbies and interests, such as the needle and thread and the A.K.A. tablecloth. By Brennah Staunton


Susie Harris Green


Born 1950 and grew up in Bluefield, WV.  In response to the civil rights issues and social unrest during the 1960s became active in community action programs at an early age.  Graduated from Bluefield High School in 1968.  Immediately left home as a representative from the Appalachian area going to the Poor People’s Campaign in Washington DC in 1968.   Found various employment opportunities with the longest terms at the U. S. Senate, U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC).  Was married and had three children.  Found meaningful and lasting spiritual relationship with God Almighty and maintained regular attendance at a Baptist Church.  Retired on 9/11/2001 at age 50 from the FDIC and in 2004 enrolled in college for the first time.  After attending George Mason University for two years, majoring in psychology and minoring in African American history, received a partial scholarship to study abroad for a semester at Oxford University in England.  Upon return to the United States, relocated back to Bluefield to care for elderly aunt.  Attended Bluefield State College and at the age of 61 graduated magnum cum laude in 2011.  In 2012 became a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and currently serve as the president of the Bluefield chapter.  Active in community both politically and in historical restoration projects.    

Working Years

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Arlington, VA:              1991 – 2001

Division of Information Resources Management – Logistics Management

Senior Computer Specialist:  Technically and administratively responsible for insuring that IT asset management policies, procedures, and programs were developed and kept in compliance.  Served as program manager for a nationwide asset management tracking and reporting system (ITAMS). Organized and supervised ITAMS help desk.  Managed project work plan which scheduled system development and maintenance, identified enhancements and new requirements, acted as a liaison between users and clients, and coordinated training, reporting, oversight of contract support, and development of standard operating procedures.  Coordinated and held regularly scheduled meetings to bring all technical and development issues to the table for discussion.  Formulated and maintained a budget spreadsheet and monitored expenditures against the approved budget in support of management contractor funding authority.  Identified, analyzed, and recommended asset management policies and programs to establish strong internal controls over assets and cost effective acquisitions.  Wrote policy memoranda which established FDIC procurement procedures for government furnished equipment for off-site contractors.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); Wash., DC    1979 – 1991

Office of Information Policies and Systems – Development Technology Division

Computer Specialist:  Active in the assessment and evaluation of new hardware and software technologies, requiring interaction with microcomputer users at all levels.  Coordinator for a Special Interest Group for software evaluation.  Liaison for information on types of accommodation equipment used to enable physically challenged employees to use microcomputer equipment.  Received awards from Director and Government Computer News for outstanding effort in accommodating users.  Wrote statements of work and managed a contract for hardware and software acquisition and maintenance.  Edited nationwide newsletter containing office automation messages, and served as facilitator in several local area network installations, including an installation at HUD’s Anchorage, Alaska office.  Served as Branch Chief and Division Director as needed.

Mercer County Economic Opportunity Corporation; Bluefield, WV            1977 – 1979

Director of Housing:  Directed a weatherization program sponsored by the Department of Energy to provide services to homes of low-income and elderly persons.  Managed budgeted funding by the Community Services Administration, monitored receipts and expenditures, and supervised field work. 

U. S. Senate - Office of the Secretary; Capitol Hill, Washington, DC          1972 – 1976

Chief Auditor/Data Processing Supervisor:  Audited Senatorial Receipts and Expenditures Reports in accordance with Federal Election Campaign Act.  Researched legal documents in the Senate Document Room to prepare statistical reports.  Worked directly with members of the press and campaign officials.

Travels with Susie

Joy of Travel

… I'm not rich really, I'm not rich, but I have a desire to travel. And in that desire, you sacrifice. You don't eat out, say for a month and see how much you save up, probably five hundred dollars, you know, so… and you, you cut your cable bill down to the minimum with a goal to do anything. Sacrifice, it's worth it. So, I just want to encourage you to and let you know that I am not rich to be able to have been [to] these places. We have sacrificed and saved money and gotten online and got the best flights that we could get. You know, we've not been first class at all, but we have been able to see some things. And I just want to share that when we went to Cuba, it was just a couple of years ago. It's like out of the 50s and 60s; all of the cars of the very old cars, and there the air is very thick with gasoline smells. There's no, I guess, what they call it? Air pollution … no monitoring, I'm sure they don't have one of these agencies, the EPA. There's no EPA in Cuba. We went on a tour in the countryside where we saw them rolling the cigars, and we saw how people live. And again, we are blessed here in America, even in our worst poverty. It's not as bad as developing countries, but you also see the spirit of the people. The spirit of the people can be very high, very positive, very friendly. And we with all that we have, we can have some of the bitterest attitudes here in America that exist, and we've got the best economy. I mean, we are not always climbing our way out. The employment rate is not always the best, but by and large, we are in a great country.