Elizabeth Thorn Flood: First African American Public School Instructor in California History

0 Posted by - October 17, 2022 - LATEST POSTS

Elizabeth Thorn Scott Flood is known as the mother of desegregated education for children of color in California. Flood’s intentions started out to get her own children into the public schools of California, which later paved the way for integrated schools.

Thorn received her education in New Bedford, Massachusetts, she and her husband arrived during the gold rush era to Placerville, California. After the death of her husband, she moved along with her son to a large black community in Sacramento in the early 1850s.
Scott’s son was not allowed to enter Sacramento’s public school. Scott decided to open her own private school for her son and other children in the city.

The Sacramento School Board recognized the school and assumed the administration of the school as a segregated institution although it did not commit public school tax revenue to support the school.

Despite the school’s limitations, Scott and other black parents accepted the arrangement and in 1855 the school opened as part of the Sacramento school system.  Scott continued to teach at the school and became the first African American public school instructor in California history.

Elizabeth Scott married her second husband in 1855, Isaac Flood.  The couple moved to Brooklyn, a community just outside of Oakland, California.  In 1857, Flood began a second school for black children in her new home.  One year later Flood helped establish Shiloh African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Oakland, the first AME church in the city which eventually took control of her school. Elizabeth Thorn Scott Flood died at the age of thirty-nine in 1867.  She did not live to see integrated education in California but her youngest daughter, Lydia Flood, was among the first students to attend Oakland’s integrated public school in 1872.

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