This news piece speaks of success as the acclaim we all can seek to have.
“Success: You Can Get It If You Want It, If You Work For It” targeted Judge Shirley A. Green’s keynote address with a backdrop ending the year for the African-American Mentoring Program For Girls (AAMP-Girls).
It sustained interest in Judge Green, good grades and appropriate behavior from the girls, a better understanding solving their problems, and celebrating their accomplishments during a buffet set out at The Bistro of Flagler Palm Coast High School.
The mentoring program, established by Flagler County schools, is coordinated by women of color, imparted to the girls academically, physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually through the tireless efforts of Melba J. McCarty, AAMP-Girls president; Sheryl Lewis, planning and development; Michaelyn Pitts, Ways and Means; Carolyn Boswell, finance; and other program mentors.
Path to the bench
In 2004, Green became the first Black female elected as a Volusia County Court judge.
She discussed success with the girls, parents and mentors – and Jacob Oliva, superintendent of Flagler schools; Sabrina Crosby, school events coordinator; Katrina Townsend, director, Student Services; Andy Dance, school board chair; other school officials, including Dr. Pamela Jackson-Smith, mentor/Families in Transition Liaison.
Green, hammered out of life’s circumstances, spelling success – renewing the spirit – and inflating hope for the future. Green’s granddaughter, Simone Green, ushered in her grandmother with an introduction. Other young performers included Amossi Miller, Victoria Starks, Tselote Holley, Angel Hopkins, and Darice Mills.
McCarty showed a projectory of Green’s past, sharing that her legal experience extends from private practice, specializing in discrimination, family law, real property and bankruptcy, to general poverty law, taking Green on her way to the bench as a Volusia County Court Judge in the Seventh Circuit.
Green’s professional affiliation includes “membership and service to the Florida Bar, Volusia County Bar, Association of Women Lawyers, the National Bar Association, Central Florida Minority Bar Association… She’s in the mix, ladies and gentlemen,” reiterated McCarty.
She has the heart for community, she has a heart for people… Judge Green works extensively with the Coalition for the Homeless, Workforce Development, the NAACP, and Upward Girls…All of these point to the fact that the Honorable Judge Shirley A. Green is a ‘bad’ sister,” added McCarty.
Faced tragedy and turmoil
Green took the high road during a 1980s aftermath and attended college at 29 years old with six children in tow and meager means of support. She became widowed when her husband succumbed to leukemia in her junior year at the University of Miami.
She had married at 17 before graduating from high school and worked as a migrant worker with her husband and children – picking cotton, watermelon, and sugarcane as a child on her grandparents’ farm, sharecropping in Alabama – the farm lacking inside plumbing, and the two rooms separated by cardboard and newspapers.
Green suffered turmoil during segregation while integrating her class in KKK country of Homestead, almost near Key West, where an angry mob of Whites blocked the streets – armed with rifles and pitchforks – and setting up a sign that read, ‘Niggers Go Home,’ and Green’s school bus riding along the streets.
Nagged by the circumstance, she told her mother that she was not going back because the people scared her half to death. Green’s mama replied, “If they don’t kill you, I am because you are going back to that school tomorrow. You don’t let somebody steal your life from you; don’t let them steal your education.”
She received a doctorate degree and passed the Florida bar while her South Florida home was grossly destroyed by Hurricane Andrew, and a job waiting in New Smyrna Beach with Community Legal Services was given away.
So when Legal Services found another job, Green became in charge of the Volunteer Lawyers Project, giving legal services to the less fortunate, and getting acquainted with numerous lawyers, and learning to fund-raise and plan events that she would be proud to invite President Obama. And not doing a job to be thanked, she welcomed the opportunity to learn new skills. Had she refused to do the job would dictate that someone other than herself had control of her life.
When she began to rebuild in New Smyrna Beach, the Bunnell factory furnishing the building parts burned in the late 1990s fires, causing another ruin to her finances. Most people would have suffered a meltdown of mental anguish.
But instead, Green views success as starting on the inside, “that little urge that says you want to do better.” She was the first in her family to graduate from high school.
“I graduated from high school; therefore, I had done my work,” said Green. “Somebody else needs to graduate from college.” At that time, she had a really good job at a furniture store, managing two departments. She quit the job and signed up for college, realizing that a high school diploma was not enough.
‘Have a plan’
In order for you to succeed, “you have to have a plan,” Green said, “and I always encourage people to write down their plan because it then becomes something tangible…there is always something you can do to change yourself.”
She charged that the biggest obstacle to success lies within the person, while encountering sinkholes and large mountains.
“So it doesn’t matter what other people think about you,” she said, “It doesn’t matter what other people say about you.” All they know is the surface; you are the one who knows deep down inside who you really are… “Not everyone is going to celebrate you and your success,” she continued. “…A lot of people would say, ‘well, I’m just not going to try it again.’ But don’t tell me that I can’t do something.’’
“If you want to do something, you have to get up and do it. It is not going to come to you by osmosis,” asserted Green. “You need to be willing, have determination. You need to have self-esteem if you are to move forward. You have to have education…Just like the people in the civil rights movement – somebody had to stand up. Somebody had to not be afraid,” she persisted.
“You know what? I’m a Christian…and I don’t think that anything happens by happenstance,” she said. “I believe that everything is a divine intervention. So if God is putting me in a place, I want to find out why I am there, and I am not afraid to find out…” she recapped.
Green’s keynote address applied to the girls in the mentoring program as well as to grown-ups. The message boiled down that in order to have success, you must be willing to work for it. “Success: You Can Get It If You Want It.”
Hattitude Luncheon takes place July 26
An array of styles for hats will be worn by women at the Hattitude Luncheon presented by the Women’s Day Committee of First Church – Sondra L. Henderson, chairman; and Vivian Richardson, co-chairman.
The luncheon of July 26, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. – at a $10 donation – is one of the events to celebrate Women’s Day. It is inclusive having men attend, and prizes awarded for the most significant hats.
First Church, the Rev. Gillard S. Glover, pastor, is located at 91 Old Kings Road North, Palm Coast. To contact the church, the telephone number is 386-446-5759.
As always, remember our prayers for the sick, afflicted and bereaved.
Happy anniversary to Smitty and Thea Smith, July 15.