2014 Inductee, Georgia Women of Achievement
City, Town, Region
Bazoline Estelle Usher was born December 26, 1885, in Walnut Grove, WaltonCounty, Georgia. She was named Basil for the aromatic herb her mother used in cooking. Thinking it was too masculine, Miss Usher changed her name to Bazoline. Her parents Joe Samuel Usher and Lavada Florence Usher. Taught the alphabet by her mother, she entered school at age four at the local Baptist church. In 1892, the family moved to Oxford, Georgia and there she entered a two teacher school housed in a two room house on the Baptist church premises.
By 1894, her family moved to Covington, Georgia. The town of Covington was in the process of building a six room school and until completion of the new building, Bazoline attended the private school operated by Mrs. Dinah Watts Pace for the benefit of children living in the orphanage she founded. All the pupils paid a small fee tuition supplemented by the Walton County and city of Covington. There, she completed the fifth, sixth and seventh grades. Because of her good grades in reading, spelling and arithmetic and was recommended her for the first year high school preparatory course at Atlanta University.
Seeking better educational advantages for his daughter, on January 2, 1901, her father moved the family from Covington to Atlanta. The new home on Haynes Street was three houses from Friendship Baptist Church, two blocks from Atlanta University, Morehouse College and Spelman Seminary. By the spring of 1902, the children had moved to Friendship Baptist church and her brothers and sisters were enrolled in theMitchell Street School.
Shortly after graduation, Bazoline was offered a Mathematics and Science teaching position at the American Missionary Association High School in Virginia. She taught there from 1906 until 1911 and while teaching the high school, she also did sewing and tutoring. For recreation, she enjoyed playing tennis and traveling.In 1915, she was elected to a teaching position in the Atlanta School system and assigned to seventh grad at Bell Taylor Street School. During the summer of 1915 and1916, she returned the Virginia to teach summer school for teachers. In September of1917, she was transferred to Wesley Avenue School in the Atlanta School System as the principal and served for five years. At the end of this assignment, she was then transferred to Booker Taliaferro Washington High School to serve as the assistant principal. During the summer of 1929, she was transferred to David T. Howard Gramar School for the position of principal and remained in the position until 1943, serving in this capacity for fourteen years guiding the first African American school with an all African American faculty.
In 1943, she recruited 30 black teachers, mothers and female volunteers to become GirlScout Leaders, the beginning of integrated troops in Atlanta to instill the founding principles. There were four African American Girl Scout troops with 109 girls and 27 adults. In1944, the city was divided into four districts and the new District V of Scouting for African American Girls. The girls of District V sold the second highest number of Girl Scout cookies in the council.
Unfortunately, the mores of the culture at that time required that a female educator remain single to be employed. Until her death, Ms. Usher remained single. Besides her professional life, she became the mother through legal adoption of her niece Lavada Usher Johnson Smith and was a devoted sibling. In later years, she maintained her residence on Ashby Street and eventually moved to live with her niece and family. She lived with them until moved to Sadie G. Mays Nursing Home in 1986, residing there until 1992. At her funeral service, she was praised for her tireless work on behalf of children.