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Alice Bussey

Prominent floral business owner Alice Mae White Bussey was born on July 31, 1947, in South DeKalb County, Georgia, the tenth of twelve children to Oscar Curtis White, Sr., a carpenter, and Eula Belle Shepard White, a homemaker. After graduating from high school, Bussey completed her B.A. degree in sociology at Los Angeles City College. Later, she completed her second B.A. degree in urban studies at Windsor College and her M.A. degree in public administration from Los Angeles City College.

A lifelong member of Poplar Springs Baptist Church, Bussey’s ancestors were among the founders of the church more than 135 years ago.

After completing undergraduate and graduate school in California and working concurrently for the United States Department of Labor, Bussey returned to Georgia to serve as the first Labor Department federal representative of the state. In that capacity, she managed millions of dollars, conducted investigations and developed programs for the elderly, welfare clients, and high school dropouts. Bussey was also the Federal Women's Program manager for the eight state, Southeastern Region. In 1985, Bussey became the first woman elected as president of the Atlanta Business League.

After her marriage to florist James Bussey, she began her career in the floral industry. Soon, she became the first African American FTD florist in Atlanta. Having helped create over twenty new businesses, Bussey is internationally known in the industry for training small business owners. Over a thirty-year period, Bussey’s florist has grown from a local retail operation to one that does business internationally. The Busseys have traveled extensively, developing business markets throughout the USA, Europe, and Africa. They were members of former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young’s historic trade mission to Jamaica, Trinadad and Tabago, and Barbados.

Bussey serves on the board of The International Florists Association (IFA), Georgia Council of Visitors, Atlanta Private Industry Council, and many others. She and her husband are the parents of three adult children and one grandchild. They reside in Decatur, Georgia.

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Hamilton High School

Los Angeles City College

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Favorite Quote

Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

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United States

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Short Description

Retail entrepreneur and florist Alice Bussey (1947 - ) is an internationally known floral business owner. The first African American FTD florist in Atlanta, she serves on the board of The International Florists Association.


U.S. Department of Labor

Bussey's Florist and Gifts

Favorite Color


Timing Pairs

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Alice Bussey's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alice Bussey lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alice Bussey describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alice Bussey describes her family in Ellenwood, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alice Bussey describes her mother's side of the family, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Alice Bussey describes her mother's side of the family, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Alice Bussey describes her family reunions

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Alice Bussey describes her father

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alice Bussey describes her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alice Bussey remembers her childhood in Ellenwood, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alice Bussey describes her family's values

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alice Bussey describes her family history

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alice Bussey describes the schools she attended

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Alice Bussey remembers her childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Alice Bussey lists her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Alice Bussey describes Poplar Springs Missionary Baptist Church

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Alice Bussey describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Alice Busse remembers the impact of her education

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Alice Bussey describes her childhood aspiration to travel

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Alice Bussey remembers attending Hamilton High School in Scottdale, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alice Bussey remembers the influence of Jennie Harlan and HistoryMaker Narvie Harris

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alice Bussey remembers the curriculum at Hamilton High School

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alice Bussey recalls the impact of her father's death

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alice Bussey remembers President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's assassination and the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Alice Bussey describes her friendship with Coretta Scott King

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Alice Bussey reflects upon the Vietnam War and family values during the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Alice Bussey recalls her college aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Alice Bussey describes her time in college

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Alice Bussey remembers meeting her husband in California

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Alice Bussey describes working for the U.S. Department of Labor

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Alice Bussey describes her work in Georgia with the U.S. Department of Labor

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Alice Bussey describes expanding Bussey's Florist and Gifts

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Alice Bussey recalls educating the public on the floral business

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Alice Bussey describes Bussey's Florist and Gifts receiving the FTD designation

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Alice Bussey describes the importance of diversifying floral services

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Alice Bussey talks about professional societies for florists

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Alice Bussey describes the state of the floral service

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Alice Bussey describes the goals of Bussey's Florist and Gifts

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Alice Bussey recalls her civic organizations

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Alice Bussey describe her role with the Concerned Black Clergy

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Alice Bussey remembers her term as president of the Atlanta Business League

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Alice Bussey recalls a black trade mission with HistoryMaker Andrew Young

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Alice Bussey describes working with Opportunities Industrialization Centers of America

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Alice Bussey describes her work with the National Florist Association

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Alice Bussey describes her husband and children

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Alice Bussey talks about the importance of her community

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Alice Bussey describes the importance of Bussey's Florist and Gifts

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Alice Bussey reflects upon her life, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Alice Bussey reflects upon her career

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Alice Bussey shares her hopes for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Alice Bussey reflects upon her life, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Alice Bussey describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Alice Bussey reflects upon the value of education

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Alice Bussey reflects upon the value of religion

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Alice Bussey describes the importance of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Alice Bussey talks about her life and values

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Alice Bussey describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Alice Bussey shares lessons of her life

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Alice Bussey talks about her family

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Alice Bussey reflects upon her legacy







Alice Bussey remembers the influence of Jennie Harlan and HistoryMaker Narvie Harris
Alice Bussey describes her work in Georgia with the U.S. Department of Labor
So you were influenced by Ms. Jeannie Harlan [sic. Jennie Harlan (ph.)], and I think you mentioned off-camera Narvie J. Harris [HistoryMaker Narvie Harris].$$Yeah.$$Tell us how these elders, these mentors influenced you and describe some of your experiences with them?$$Well when I was in ninth grade [at Hamilton High School, Scottdale, Georgia], Dr.--well Ms. Harlan, she was Townsend [ph.] then but when I was in high school she would have us during the summer, we were--school was continuous all year for her so she had us practice typing that we had to be of a certain speed by the time school started back, and I was able to do that and then she wanted us to creative learning shorthand. So I was able to do a book of poetry in shorthand. She had us doing all kinds of creative projects in school to create interest and she would have little incentives that she would give, it might've just been a ream of paper or some--but she created the interest for you and so Dr.--Ms. Townsend-Harlan she also would have us become professional like secretaries for the teachers. So you had to dress up and come and pass inspection with her before you could be assigned to the teacher or the prize would be assigned to the principal, so I was all--able to be assigned to the principal's office and things. So those are the kinds of things that she helped us learn, how to dress, how to act and the practical approach as we were learning business and taking business classes in high school, because we weren't assured that we were gonna go to college, so they had to prepare us to make sure that we could function when we finished high school.$$Yes.$$And then Ms. Harris worked closely, Narvie J. Harris worked closely with my mom [Eula Shepherd White].$$Okay.$$'Cause my mom was very active in the community and Ms. Harris was our, informal black superintendent to make sure she traveled the dirt roads 'cause others wouldn't come and made sure we got used books, and that we had materials so that we can have school and that's how through--down through the generations from my older sisters and brothers down to--that we have been able to know each other with my mom, my dad [Oscar White, Sr.] and learning to read and write and being the ones in the neighborhood who could read and write and we were very popular growing up in our neighborhood, the White family, and we were known to know how to do things and, and if people were seeking information they would seek us out. So that kept us learning, I mean from one of my, one of my younger brothers making, building a car to a master plumber, to being a an artist, to drawings, to building houses, buildings to painting just all just area and then my other brother [Eddie White] who's a minister who could preach and so, we, we could do the, and then we relied up each other's advice. That and consult--so to be sisters and brothers and then to have the extended family to do that, the counseling was real important. So Ms. Harris played into a lot of that 'cause she was outside the community so she could bring resources and information to us or through our parents and then recently we had her to be our grand marshal for our community parade last year.$$Good.$$And we were able to get her reacquainted with her old neighborhood with old friends and relatives and she was so excited and to be honored in that way.$$Good, good did she get to know most of you by name? Was it that type of relationship?$$Oh, yes she knows my dad when they--my mom. She tells me things I didn't know about my mom and dad. Now that's why we're in our church [Poplar Springs Missionary Baptist Church, Ellenwood, Georgia] and then the community bringing her back to the community 'cause she knew so many families that we're trying to identify our own history.$$Yes.$$And those families in the neighborhood, so by her being our grand marshal we're gonna invite her back this year too.$$Good yeah.$$So that we can continue 'cause last year we took her around to some of the ones who are eighty, ninety years old to their home. She was just real excited about that.$$Yes.$$And they knew her when she walked in the church. So many people knew her.$$Yes, we're honored at HistoryMakers [The HistoryMakers] to have had the opportunity to interview her in the last couple of weeks and we're doing a special for her on the 14th of March and we would certainly like to ask you to come out and join us as we honor her at the school.$$I would be happy to, yes.$$At the school which is named in her honor. Ms. Narvie J. Harris truly is an institution in this community (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yes, she is.$$--and has meant so much to so many.$Ms. Bussey [HistoryMaker Alice Bussey] you returned to Atlanta [Georgia] from Los Angeles [California] in 1975?$$Yes.$$You continued to work with the federal government, the [U.S.] Department of Labor at that time?$$Yes.$$For how much longer did you work for them and what else, if anything, were you doing in terms of developing your careers?$$I continued to develop with the Department of Labor and looking for opportunities because I just accepted a position so that I would not have a break in service, and once I returned I began to look at, now what other opportunities? And I found that there were opportunities in areas that I wanted to work with my background dealing with public policy, dealing with those most in need and I asked to be a part of the team dealing with women on welfare, dealing with the food stamp program and dealing with veterans, high school dropouts, the training--to look at how public policy impacted those groups, and I was able--I also asked as part of civil rights laws that were put on books under Title VII, that each employee or individual had to have the opportunity to be trained that was a federal employee and the also in that there were certain rights for women that were not known and I asked to become the Federal Women's Program manager for the southeast region. As a part of my position that I knew the law that I could so, so that was--that meant my supervisor had to give me 25 percent of my time to deal with those functions as the regional Federal Women's Program manager where I had the opportunity to help write the manual under the Title VII training manual for women for the thirteen regional offices here in the state and I was able to travel from Florida, be on the radio and (unclear). So that was a dimension of giving back and helping to change public policy and the condition of a group that I knew was not being dealt with internally so I wanted to use the outside force to impact the inside, and in my regular position was that of a specialist, a manpower development specialist they called it at one time where I would help look at cities, municipalities, government, colleges, universities that received grants and monies from the government. I was able to approve or I could disprove. It was a very unique position, not knowing it at the time but it was very unique in that I learned how systems work. Since I had studied that in, in my studies, remember I said I went from sociology to business to government urban studies to public administration. So I became an interpreter of tax laws, 'cause taxes was one of the highlights of things I knew how to do and liked doing. So we had a lot of tax law and policy integrated into what we had to interpret to implement programs at the federal, state and county level.$$Yes (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) So that's how I got to know Shirley Franklin when she was running the City of Atlanta. Michael Lomax when he was over at the county 'cause I was the first African American to be over the State of Georgia; for about six years I was able to put millions of dollars into the state to manage programs and I called audits when those who didn't feel that these funds should go to African American communities, I could call audits and make sure that we were getting due process. That's what I moved into from starting out at the bottom and just stayed there to get tenure to learn systems and learn ways to impact my community.$$And how long did you continue with the Department of Labor making this impact (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) I stayed there until '84 [1984].$$'Til '84 [1984].$$I had about three years before I was eligible for retirement.