Women’s History Month is a time dedicated to celebrating the historical and ongoing achievements and contributions of women throughout our society. During this time, we reflect, uplift, and celebrate the women who have had a lasting and meaningful impact on our lives–and with Girl Scouts, we know a thing or two about impactful women!
For more than 100 years, Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles has been filled with women who are incredible leaders, inspiring volunteers, hard-working staff members, and phenomenal mentors. These are the women who keep our programs running, and the women who are helping Girl Scouts across the region become courageous and confident individuals.
This Women’s History Month, we acknowledge a beloved and trailblazing GSGLA troop leader, Mrs. Surbrida ‘Sue’ Morris, April 21, 1931 – December 23, 2022. Mrs. Morris was a cherished mother and the leader of GSGLA Troop #487. In her role, she had a tremendous influence upon many young Black girls in South Central Los Angeles.
Throughout her time as a troop leader, Mrs. Morris touched the lives of many. She “became actively involved with [Girl Scouts] in 1963, receiving awards from the City of Los Angeles (02.02.1973) and a Resolution from the California State Senate (July 7, 1972). She was a proud Leader of Girl Scout Troop #487 and remained in contact with her girls through the years,” says former Troop #487 member, Angelique.
In an official piece of legislation from the California Senate in 1972, Chairmen James K. Mills and James Q. Wedworoth of the 31st District congratulated Mrs. Morris for being awarded the 1972 Thanks Badge by the Angeles Girl Scouts Council—a special honor that recognizes a person who has excelled in a leadership role within the council through efforts that benefit and uplift the entire Girl Scout movement. They also recognized her as a woman who “has worked very hard in her neighborhood as chairman to see that troops function efficiently and that more Black girls are brought into the Girl Scouting movement.”
As a woman who was awarded the Thanks Badge by our council, it should come as no surprise that Mrs. Morris stayed busy, creating impactful programming for the Girl Scouts in her troop and council. Some examples from her extensive list: District III Outdoor Skills Day in Lynwood Park (1971), 60 Years Celebration Juliette Jubilee (1972), Holly Crest Hootenanny (1973), Great Pumpkin Comes to Splash (1975), Bicentennial Girl Scout Conference in Washington D.C. (1976), Camp Osito Rancho, Camp Hollywood Land, and Camp White’s Landing.
After years of consistently educational, innovative, and engaging programming, the members of Troop #487 have not forgotten their time with Mrs. Morris. In fact, a couple of them wrote memorials for their troop leaders, excerpted below.
From Angelique ‘Angel’ (Blow) Tompkins:
In the late 1960s and 70’s we were the only Black Girl Scout Troop in Angeles Girl Scout Council. As a leader through the backdrop of Civil Rights, Mrs. Morris had to overcome many obstacles to obtain equity for the girls she mentored and led, opening doors that had been closed to African Americans.
Our troop accomplished many ‘firsts’ during those days, rising to ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’, in accord with the Negro National Anthem and other songs representing cultural protest of the times. She emphasized that we were all “Young, Gifted, and Black,” in the words of the incomparable Nina Simone, and we wore our pride with great dignity! To learn the lessons that would provide us a foundation for building strong Black women…we gathered as little Black girls of the ’60s, we’d dance and sing to James Brown, ‘Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud!’ fists raised in our most expressive poses.
Undoubtedly, [Mrs. Morris] was an instrumental person in my life and helped me to find my voice and way toward making an impact in my communities…a pledge I have kept to this day.
Through the years, there was rarely a conversation one might have where she didn’t offer a ‘pearl of wisdom’ in her upbeat and optimistic manner – through decades our relationships with her would evolve from grooming little girls to young women, wives, and mothers and now as grandmothers…across milestones, challenges, and accomplishments, defeats, and triumphs she stood as the pillar of support to us all! […] She will forever be seen as the epitome of walking through this journey called life, full of gratitude for a life well lived and demonstrably well loved.
From Joni Parker-Boykins:
Troop #487 holds a special place in my heart and Mrs. Morris was and still is a precious part of my upbringing within and beyond the Girl Scouts.
I entered the troop as a very timid and shy child and a victim of bullying, but that all changed quickly once I became a member of this family. I learned quickly what sisterhood was and standing up for one another and what is right. [Because of this] I became an advocate for victims of bullying at school and in the neighborhood.
My troop—my extended family—became an integral part of my life and the experiences we shared are priceless. Mrs. Morris and Ms. Daniels made it possible for us to have an enriched childhood while developing lifelong skills and relationships with other young ladies. I did not know how valuable the lessons we learned were, the experiences we were afforded, and the protection provided by our leaders and parents without our knowledge had affected my life until recent conversations. I didn’t think about the color of our skin when we participated in so many activities, events, trips, or reached so many achievements […] I felt that as much as [Mrs. Morris] was a positive force in our lives, we were also that in her life, as she proved to love what she did and loved us as well.
On behalf of the entire Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles council, we would like to thank Mrs. Surbrida ‘Sue’ Morris for the years she devoted to this council and to the girls she led. You will forever be remembered as a trailblazing Girl Scout leader, mentor, and friend.
1 comments on “Remembering Surbrida ‘Sue’ Morris: A trailblazing mentor and leader of GSGLA Troop 487”
This is a wonderful tribute to a trailblazing woman. Thank you for sharing, and may she RIP.